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How To Use Scripture In Letters To Your Child

Yesterday we shared some of young Hiwot's story and the letter her sponsor family wrote that meant so much to her.

We loved the letter, too, because we could see Scripture woven through every line. Although they were not direct quotations of Bible passages, the hope and encouragement echoed in these phrases is eternal:

Dear Hiwot,

We pray for you and your family that our Lord will keep you safe, healthy, and provide for all of your needs. (Psalm 16, Numbers 6:24-26)

Pray to our Lord for everything so that He will know your heart, and His sweet Spirit will live inside you. (Romans 5:5, Acts 15:8, Romans 15:13, Ephesians 3:17)

Remember that Jesus loved each of us so much that He gave His life for us so that we who believe in Him can live life through Him. (Galatians 2:20, John 3:16, 1 John 4:9)

He knows your heart, Hiwot, so always speak to Him through prayer. (Psalm 139, Romans 8:26-27, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

We hope your studies are going well, and thank you always for your prayers.

In God’s love, Your Sponsors

The love Hiwot's sponsors have for her is clear, and it is infused with Scripture. When we spoke with Hiwot's sponsors, they made it clear that they felt the Holy Spirit had guided them in how they responded to Hiwot -- which is why we see so many biblical truths throughout each line.

Just imagine the confirmation Hiwot would feel as she read her sponsors' words and how they echo what she is learning about God. As she reads the Bible, she could pick up on these themes. God's words are sprinkled throughout her heart and life, reinforced by her sponsor's letter!

The book of Isaiah tells us that God's Word does not return empty -- it will always accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). The power of God's word in your letters is clear, but what is the best way to use Scripture in your letters?

For the new You Are Loved! postcard, consider including one particular verse for your sponsored child. If you're not sure what to include, pray and ask God to give you a specific verse!

Click on this link to download a great resource you can use to find verses to pray over your sponsored child in your letters and in your prayer times.

Or, if you'd like some sample prayers, read what other sponsors sent in the first time we asked them to write out prayers for their sponsored children!

Sample Prayers

Different Ways To Write Out Prayers

We hope these resources help as you write a short, encouraging note on the postcard. If you want to write more, you can attach your own stationery to the card. Just be sure to leave half the space for translation, and to write your child's name and ID on your letter along with your own.

As always, THANK YOU for all you are doing for your sponsored child. You are investing in their life and heart, and it is a tremendous gift. Thank you!

Writing Advice From Other Sponsors

We've started a new writing campaign, asking you to write your child and include a family photograph with your postcard.

There's not much space on the You Are Loved! postcard, because few people have the time to sit down and write a long letter... and they feel guilty for not writing often enough!

Your child simply wants to hear from you. It matters less how much or how often you write -- it simply matters that you write!

Here's our best advice for making the most of that You Are Loved! postcard:

  1. Don't apologize for not writing -- you only have a few lines to use, so focus on encouraging your child.
  2. Write out your prayers for them, or the verse you are praying over for them.
  3. Confirm that you consider them a part of your family!
  4. Be sure to include a photo! Your photos are treasured.
  5. If you don't have a photo and can't get one easily, draw your child a picture! C'mon, it will be fun and unexpected!

Hiwot's sponsors shared their advice for writing your child is important:

Your child is so interested in the life of their sponsor, and it is a most humbling experience when you know that this child and his or her family is praying for you. And we are very touched that the letter meant so much to her that she has kept it. Your letters really do make a difference in the life of your sponsored child!

And Hiwot's sponsors are right -- your child is very interested in your life and your family, and they pray for you regularly. That's why we are asking you to send a family photo with your postcard -- it will be cherished by your child and their family.

Do you have advice for writing your child? Share it below in the comments!

Hiwot's Story: Letters Bring Hope

She must have known exactly where it was.

That’s all our staff could think when young Hiwot ran back out of her house, clutching a letter from her sponsor. The home Hiwot shared with her mother and sister was tiny, but her quick return made them realize – she knew exactly where her sponsor’s letters were.

What’s more, the letter was two years old. It was a prayer card from her sponsors, and the words it contained were powerful, speaking right to her heart.

Our staff had asked Hiwot if she could share a letter from her sponsor because the workers at Hiwot’s project had shared about Hiwot’s transformation since being sponsored. As she walked with the staff toward her house, they learned more about her.

Hiwot’s name is quite common for little girls in Ethiopia. In Amharic, Hiwot means LIFE.

But life as Hiwot knew it was tremendously difficult.

Her father had left the family years earlier, forcing Hiwot’s mother to work odd jobs in her struggle to provide for Hiwot and her sister. Still, they had very little hope for the future.

When Hiwot’s mother learned that One Child Matters was opening a child development center in their community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitol, she ran to get her daughters registered.

“That was the day that everything changed in my life,” Hiwot says.

In the years since, Hiwot’s life has improved dramatically, but there were times of difficulty – something Hiwot’s sponsors noticed in her letters to them. Dean and his wife Maria remember receiving a letter from Hiwot where she seemed troubled, and they wanted to write in response to that: 

It was quite a while ago, but Maria remembers that what she wrote was influenced by a letter Hiwot had written to us. She wanted to encourage Hiwot because she sensed that Hiwot needed it. The Holy Spirit prompted her to write what she did.

Thus it made sense that Hiwot quickly ran inside her house and came back with that letter her sponsors had so carefully written to speak to her heart two years earlier:

Dear Hiwot,

We pray for you and your family that our Lord will keep you safe, healthy, and provide for all of your needs. Pray to our Lord for everything so that He will know your heart, and His sweet Spirit will live inside you. Remember that Jesus loved each of us so much that He gave His life for us so that we who believe in Him can live life through Him. He knows your heart, Hiwot, so always speak to Him through prayer. We hope your studies are going well, and thank you always for your prayers.

In God’s love, Your Sponsors

Later this week we’ll dive into why we think the letter Hiwot’s sponsor family wrote her is so powerful – as well as their advice for writing your child and our best tips for making these prayer postcards count.

In the meantime, in case you haven't seen it, here's more of Hiwot's story.

To read more tips for writing your sponsored child, click here!

Update On Relief Efforts In The Philippines

 

Thank you for your continued prayers for the Philippines in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan at the end of last year. God has moved in powerful ways to address the needs of the beautiful Filipino communities we served, and you played a major role in the relief efforts.

When Jack Eans, our Vice President for International Child Ministries who works with our staff in the field, visited the areas hardest hit in the Philippines with our project staff a month after the typhoon struck Cebu Island, the need that stood out front and center is that of shelter. Home after home had been demolished.

They visited nearly 50 homes of One Child Matters children – all had been flattened and all their belongings ruined or exposed to the elements. In the weeks since the storm some had been able to begin a little reconstruction, tapping into government aid to get some metal sheets for roofs. But most had simply propped up salvaged pieces of their houses and put tarps over them. Others dispersed to sleep with other family, some even slept on the sand. Tents donated by Taiwan Red Cross mostly went to those with disabilities. There were no refugee centers with cots, blankets, food and water and other supplies. They were still very exposed to the elements, again living in makeshift shelters right beside the ruins of their homes.

We spoke to many children and parents about what they went through during the storm. Most talked about the incredible sound and blast of the wind – a deafening roar and whistle, then watching roofs raise and blow off, trees twisting and snapping, and running to neighboring homes when theirs fell down. They took shelter in the churches only to watch those roofs blow off.

There were miracles, though! First, no one got a scratch. With debris, coconuts, sheet metal flying and swirling and roofs and walls collapsing on top, somehow no one even got hurt. Second, the storm hit at low tide, meaning there was no storm surge. If it had hit at high tide the island and the coastal area of Daan Batayan would have been swamped. And third, local leaders did an amazing job at getting people to leave their homes for shelters. Countless would have been killed if they had stayed in the simple structures they called home.

The relief efforts

In the months since, much of the world has forgotten the remaining need of these already underserved communities, but we have not. The children continue to display good resilience, hope, and typical child-like reactions to all the hustle and bustle. Many were content to play in the rain or create obstacle courses out of the downed palm trees.

But the parents are worried. People are scrambling to rebuild their lives, burning the rubbish and continuing the clean-up. This is the time to respond and make a sustainable difference.

And you have responded! Your gifts to the CCF were immediately put into the relief efforts, providing food and shelter materials for the families of the children we served.

We estimated between 100-120 homes of One Child Matters children need to be rebuilt completely or have additional supplies provided to finish what they have started. The community staff in the Philippines continue to check on the families to determine the level of need and what the families themselves can contribute toward rebuilding.

The power of partnership

Using your gifts to the Children’s Crisis Fund, plus other donations from our incredible partners, we were able to help them begin to rebuild and do so well, together. The Garrisons, local missionaries who help us coordinate our work in the Philippines, were ready and able to meet the needs of the communities we have served thanks to a strong partnership with Convoy of Hope. The Garrisons had a shipping container full of enriched rice meals at the ready, plus another on its way.

Convoy of Hope helped us continue to get relief supplies to the areas that needed it most. A U.S. church partner stepped forward to help raise money to help with rebuilding efforts as you, our sponsors, continued to donate to the Children’s Crisis Fund. The board of One Child Matters voted to make a substantial donation toward rebuilding efforts, and Convoy of Hope stepped forward to match it!

We have been able to respond with your donations, plus $120,000 from One Child Matters and Convoy of Hope to begin rebuilding homes in the community.

Churches and sponsors continue to step up to donate funds, for which we are so grateful. As you can see in the photos below, the rebuilding efforts continue. But homes are being restored and rebuilt, and Jesus is being glorified in the process!

To make a donation toward our efforts in the Philippines, click here.

Former Victims Lead Fight Against Trafficking

“Brokenness is the bow from which God launches the arrows of healing.”Louie Giglio

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you're looking for inspiration on how you can get involved in the fight against this evil industry, we recommend looking toward the very girls who recently escaped its clutches.

Click to read more ...

How Sponsorship Transforms Families

I can remember meeting Lokina. She was hard to miss -- even as a group of Maasai women welcomed us with their traditional song, Lokina stood out, a statuesque woman draped in a royal blue kanga fabric with a bright smile.

It was only later that I noticed how she kept her arms wrapped around her middle. One of the other ladies on the Women's Circle of Caring trip with me knew a bit of her story, that she had a form of epilepsy and had fallen into a fire after a seizure. She could not fully straighten her arms, the scar tissue from burns was too thick.

Living in the bush of Africa is difficult enough. Feeding your children and managing your household while your husband herded cattle possibly hundreds of miles away is quite another. And Lokina's husband left as her condition worsened. She was truly on her own.

Or was she? One of the things we focused on with Women's Circle of Caring was how women can minister to one another. We, a group of American women from all ages and stages of life, could minister to and with women in Kenya, and we can help them see how they need each other.

In the few years that Women's Circle of Caring visited a region where One Child Matters served, we saw a true community form among the women. Their focus was caring for their children, and yet they themselves benefited as well. We saw hearts knit together -- across cultures, and across a community.

Lokina's story is a powerful one. She learned more about her own worth because others were willing to invest in her -- very similar to the sponsorship model she saw transform her own son. You can watch her incredible story below.

But if you would like to invest in a community much like Emarti, you can join the Women's Circle of Caring. They are traveling to a different community in June to continue their work -- and they are hoping to bring a few more women with them. So watch Lokina's story, and ask yourself if you can play a part in rewriting the future for women and children in Kenya!

Women’s Circle of Caring - Lokina's Story from One Child Matters on Vimeo.

 

Hope Builds In Haiti

Today we pause to remember a terrible earthquake that shook Haiti to its core 4 years ago and killed thousands. Although the earthquake struck the capital, far from the northern areas One Child Matters serves, the entire country was affected. Refugees fled back north, where their familial roots may have been before they went to the city in search of work.

Ten months later, a new tragedy lurked. In the water. Cholera. Spread by unclean water and the poor sanitation practices endemic to Haiti, cholera preyed on those already struggling. It was, as they say, insult to injury. 

With your help, we responded with aid after the earthquake. Within a week, Medical Mercy was on the ground in Port-au-Prince, and returned again in March of 2010. Your donations to the Children’s Crisis Fund also allowed us to move quickly, putting preventative measures in place to keep cholera at bay.

In the four years since that January earthquake, Medical Mercy has been a consistent presence, training project staff, running clinics, and assessing the needs of the children at each project. As the latest team of volunteer nurses, doctors, and friends travel home, we offer our profound thanks – for the difference they’ve made for the children, and for the way they have trained our staff to offer the care these children need to succeed.

Dr. Beyda shares about how children in One Child Matters projects have the opportunity for a different perspective in life:

Let's talk about purpose, mission, and priorities. How different are those three things for us as compared to those who live in Haiti. Let me share how those would be defined if you and I were Haitians.

Purpose: to live another day.

Mission: to find the next meal.

Priorities: to fend for themselves individually.

The children we care for are learning differently what those categories mean: to purposely live a life with Christ, to serve others as a mission, to put God first as the priority. So even though they live in squalor and poverty, we trust that with what they learn and experience in One Child Matters’ programs they will see beyond the "have not" and relish the "have" of a life filled with grace and love, surrounded by a community of dedicated One Child Matters workers.

What it means for specific children:

I saw a young boy out of the corner of my eye.  A tall, clearly elderly lady, unkempt, frail and barely able to walk was with him. The boy came and sat in the chair in front of me with a stoic face, waiting to be examined. A 3 year old, who acted like he was years ahead of his age. Stoicism does that.

A few questions asked and I figured it out. His parents had abandoned him and his grandmother had taken him in. And so did One Child Matters. He is an abandoned child but sponsored, cared for by a frail and elderly woman who may not be here tomorrow. He is like many others we care for. I spent some time with him and treated his malnutrition and his chronic pneumonia. He never smiled. Not then. But when I took him in my lap, he cuddled close and showed a soft smile as he laid his head on my chest. For him, love has been hard to come by it seems.

This has been Haiti. The sun is setting as we sit on the bus that creeps along the road that is not a road and for a moment there is a pause in the conversation around all the experiences everyone is sharing from today. It as at that moment that it all came together for me. An abandoned 3-year-old child is given a chance to be loved and cherished by those who embrace him in the OCM project. And with clean water to drink, a toothbrush, a Band-Aid for his cuts, a teacher who now knows how to treat a burn, a place to wash his hands, and a medical program that came and set up a nutritional rescue program, preventative health exams and illness interventions left behind, this little 3-year-old has a chance. Finally.

On the times when life-changing medical intervention is possible:

I pose the question: what was our destination on this medical mission? What were our expectations? The answer was there for me this morning.

I was asked to look at an 11-year-old girl who had surgery several years ago to remove a superficial mass on her neck. She was left with nerve damage to her arm and accumulation of lymph that made her arm swell to twice its size. She had a chest x-ray taken a while back when her mother took her to see a doctor after wondering for many years why her arm looked like this after surgery. The chest x-ray showed 2 masses in her chest. No one bothered to tell the mother what the findings were at the time the x-rays were taken, nor did the doctor who did the original surgery tell the mother what the mass was that he took out. The mother and the child were abandoned by those who took an oath to heal and care.

This time it won’t happen. With the local doctors working with me, we examined the child, came up with a plan on what tests are needed now, what the next step in the care would be, sat with the mother and explained to her in detail what we thought was going on, and committed to always be there for them.

The destination and expectation was simple: to recognize those who come to us for help as persons worthy of dignity no matter their circumstances, and a commitment to relationship that is genuine. I believe we did that. We left behind sustainable drinking water, a place to wash their hands, education and supplies to treat wounds and other minor injuries, toothbrushes and dental education and medical care that will be there for as long as they need it. 

We finished up our last day of clinic, seeing 1400 children, building permanent 2 permanent “tippy taps” in each of the 11 projects we went to, did dental hygiene, brought water filtration systems in and taught first aid and left first aid kits in all the projects. But you know that already.

But what you may not know, is who really did this all. We had a US team of 27 members and a Haitian/DR team of 11 for at total of 38 people serving the 1400 children and the communities. We had 2 local physicians and 1 local dentist who were with us, working alongside, and who will stay and sustain the care we gave. 38 people who gave of their time to serve.

At One Child Matters, our very name suggests that our motivation is the worth of every child, that anyone can give and prove to one child that he or she matters. How that looks may vary for each person, but child sponsorship is one effective vehicle to change a child's life. Giving toward or volunteering with Medical Mercy is another. To give toward the unique ministry of Medical Mercy, click here.

We also use our Children's Crisis Fund to respond to needs of individual children as their needs are identified by the staff Medical Mercy has trained. When children need help beyond the regular support of sponsorship, we rely on the CCF, and you can make a donation here.

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, on this day that burdens of heart of many, and in the days yet to come. Thank you, as always, for your prayers and generous giving. Thank you for changing the lives of children in Haiti and beyond!

Haiti Clinics: What Medical Mercy Puts In Place

Here are a few updates that provide glimpses into the clinics and how the Medical Mercy team operates.

For day two: two separate clinics in two different communities, almost two hours from our hotel, remote villages, dirt roads with pigs in the way, and 300 children seen.

We were cramped in a room, seeing children and doing pharmacy. We saw more of the same and less of the healthy ones. We caught a few serious illnesses and prevented one child from going blind due to a serious eye infection.

And what about the team? We caught the "fever" of caring and compassion – smiles all around and a willingness to serve. We did nutritional assessments, put in place water filtration systems, left behind comprehensive first aid kits and trained the staff, did dental hygiene, did psychological interventions, and treated patients. We left something behind that they could use and benefit from.

Anne describes the water filtration and the training they offered, a hallmark of Medical Mercy's program which always seeks to equip staff to create sustainable improvements for the health of the children:

The project director and some of the teachers gathered in a small room to be taught First Aid and Water Filtration. There are many aspects of First Aid to cover but in the end we had a profitable volley of questions and answers and they seem to understand the basics.

Doreen finished with water filtration. She put together the set up step by step so they could see. She got them to give her some water from the well, simply purified it through the filter and then – much to the teachers’ surprise – she drank it. There was an audible gasp in the room when they saw her drink it and they, with their eyes wide, told us that they did not drink the well water! Doreen cheerfully told them that it was a powerful filter that she trusted and it took out all the sickness (no small feat in Haiti, where cholera is a very real threat).

The water was good now and in so doing she made believers out of all of them.

The next day, two more clinics with several hundred children seen. Dr. Beyda writes:

And here is the neat part. We again did water filtration that we left behind and "tippy taps" were built for hand washing. Simple and effective. We are making and leaving 2 of them in each of the 12 projects that we will have visited.

And on interacting with the children and the challenges they face:

"Why are you so sad?" Dr. Jerry asked the child. "Because I'm hungry," the young boy said. There's not much one can say after that. Dr. Jerry felt the emotion. I leave it to you to find your own emotion to what that young boy said.

It is part of the ministry of One Child Matters to feed children the best we can. Today the children were given spaghetti with tomato sauce, a hardboiled egg and a banana. It may very well be the best meal they'll have until they come back to the project for more.

The team still has several days of clinics ahead. Please pray for strength and good rest for them as they try to serve the children in a way that reflects Jesus' care for them!

Thank you for praying with us!

Medical Team Finally Together, Clinics Begin In Haiti

Thank you for your prayers for the Medical Mercy team traveling to Haiti! The snowstorm blanketing much of the U.S. created some unexpected obstacles for the team, but they have safely arrived and completed their first clinic in Haiti.

From Dr. Beyda:

It snowed. And it snowed some more. So much so that what should have been an 8-hour trip from Phoenix to the Dominican Republic took 40 hours. The team of 27 got scattered in several different directions – Atlanta, Dulles, JFK and Miami. And when everyone finally arrived, it was off for a 3 hour drive to the border to cross into Haiti. Not so easy though – two hours to negotiate the two countries’ protocols and paperwork.

We made it through and off to our first project and clinic. The team fell together, each member knowing where to go and what to do and we saw a bunch of children in the 2 hours we had left in the day before night settled on us. We got our feet wet for the rest of the week. Well done team!

So you ask, what story do I have to tell? What struck me on this first day? What expectations were met and which ones were not? Well, the story is a familiar one. An 8 year old girl who is the size off a 5 year old. Stunted. I was struck by the persistence of a country still torn from decades of unrest, an epidemic cholera still on the edge of reappearing, and a literally broken structure from an earthquake just a few years ago.

I look for no rewards in what I do. No pats on the back. Making a child healthier, getting a smile and knowing that their chance for living a life with potential for doing great things is enough.

From Anne, a perennial volunteer nurse with Medical Mercy:

This is my fifth trip to Haiti, the fourth with OCM, and this little border town of Ouanminthe has captured my heart and prayers since the beginning. Since I was a late arrival to this trip due to the weather and flight delays, I was not up on our itinerary and thus had no idea which projects we would serve.

Today it turned out to be my old friend Adreese’s church. I had been here before but somehow the venue has changed. It was here that I learned how to tell the children to chew their vitamins: “Crazee.” It is a term that often comes to my mind no matter what country or language in which I am teaching children.

Our first patient of the day is a 7 year old named Wendall. He was born just a few days after my own precious 7 year old back home. I tell him this but he is unimpressed, in fact, all my attempts to put his fearful face at ease, fail. I feel confident that he is confident I will be giving him a shot. When I try to have Bens reassure him that I will not be hurting him, Bens does not quite understand my intent and answers me that Wendall has no pain. Some things get lost in translation, so I let my actions speak louder than my words fail. I do my exam trying intentionally to touch him softly and with unexpected kindness.

It occurs to me that I, myself, may be a picture of how God approached me when I was frightened and disconnected: guiding me with His trademark, unexpected kindness. It was and always is, the kindness that I don’t expect that is my salvation. I remember that unexpected kindness is the definition of the Grace of God…

Please continue praying for the Medical Mercy team as they recover from their disrupted travel while serving hundreds of children in Haiti. May they continue to reach out with unexpected kindness, moving each child toward health and hope.

Capturing Christmas At Our Projects

If it feels like you gave toward the Christmas Gift Fund a long time ago, rest assured that the Christmas festivities are fresh in your sponsored child's mind!

We receive photos from the Christmas celebrations every year and thought you might like a glimpse into the festivities:

The Christmas Gift Fund allows our projects to put on special Christmas programs. Children receive a special meal to celebrate Christ's birth, and they really enjoy it!

The projects also tell the story of Christ's birth in nativity plays put on by the children for the children, their parents, and community members. The children take this quite seriously, as you can tell from the photos below.

The Christmas Gift Fund also allows our project staff to purchase gifts for the children -- and what your sponsored child receives is presented as a gift from you! These gifts point to the greatest gift we ever received in Jesus Christ, and just like your celebrations at home, the gifts are treasured.

Many of our programs use these festivities as an opportunity to throw a birthday party for Jesus! Some years there is cake, and there are always games and party favors.

Thank you for helping us throw great parties in Jesus' honor for children who may not otherwise get to celebrate His great gift!

Sweet New Faces At The New Life Home

We just love updates from the New Life Home! As we welcome the individual babies with prayer, it helps to see how well they are cared for and celebrated.

The New Life Home makes sure the children’s birthdays are celebrated properly, and many of the infants go on to their adoptive forever families with photos of these first birthdays.

And what party could be complete without cake? Here the babies eagerly eat the sugary treat – the staff say that the toddlers quickly learn that cake is for a special occasion and often shout with delight when they see a cake in the room!

This is just a small glimpse into the excellent care these children receive. Thanks to your generous gifts, babies who were once abandoned are cherished and celebrated in a way that reflects their value in God's eyes.

Let's meet some of the newer faces at the New Life Home!

 

 

Baby Elin had a bit of a journey before coming to the New Life Home. She was found at the gates of a refugee center and was soon after taken to a nearby hospital.

Because she was premature, the hospital felt it could not adequately care for her, so they sent her to the national hospital. Elin tested positive for HIV, but her rosy cheeks warm the staff’s hearts.

Elin has a lot of company at the New Life Home. Let's meet one of the several sets of twins who have made the New Life home a bustling place!

 

Lara and Colin arrived at the New Life Home in October, wrapped together in a blanket. Sadly, their mother is in a coma at a nearby hospital, and so far it seems that no other relatives are able to care for the twins. Lara, Colin, and their mother are all HIV positive.

The babies are in an incubator until they put on weight, both were under 5 pounds when they arrived. Colin is assisted by a naso gastric tube in his feedings, but Lara did not like that method at all. Please pray for these precious infants to put on weight so they continue to do well!  

 

Kevin was found on the roadside by a group of high school students as they walked to school.

You'll notice a pattern in some of the babies' stories. Kevin is one of many who were discovered by students on their way home from school.

The staff at the New Life Home are thankful for the tender hearts of these students who respond to an infant's cries and intervene, giving them a chance at a new life.

In Kevin's case, the police took him to the hospital for an assessment and then brought him to the New Life Home.

Kevin is doing well, engaging with other older babies and delighting all with this big brown eyes.

 

 

Little Shanna was also discovered by a group of students as they walked along the banks of the Nairobi River that runs close by a neighboring slum.

Wrapped in a plastic grocery bag shortly after birth, her umbilical cord was still fresh. The boys alerted their school guard. Shanna's rescue team included the school’s janitor and another woman who learned of the situation while passing by.

The police brought Shanna to the New Life Home, where she tested positive for HIV. They immediately began antibiotics and continue to pray for healing for this dear child.  

 

Twin boys Christopher and Randall, shown here with one of the wonderful volunteers who visit often to love on the children, came from a difficult situation. The boys were taken from their parents after Christopher was burned by a lantern. Their parents live in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Nairobi.

After being treated at the hospital for malnourishment and for Christopher’s burns, the twins were transferred to New Life Home. They quickly adjusted and quite enjoy their new diet of solid food. A court is assessing the family’s ability to care for the boys, and depending on the court’s decision, they may be placed up for adoption.

 

Most of the New Life Home’s admissions are tiny infants, but every once in a while an older child makes her way to this special place.

Sweet Violet was found abandoned along a railway line. A Good Samaritan took her in for a month hoping someone would come forward to claim her, but no one did. Once the police learned of her situation, they brought Violet to the New Life Home.

At almost two years old, the staff worried how Violet would respond to her new environment, but she took to it immediately. She’s quite the talker, complaining loudly during the doctor’s visits. Because she is so aware, the staff is praying that she comes to understand how loved and cherished she is.

You can support the work of the New Life Home by making donations here.

Thank you for encouraging this incredible ministry to these sweet infants!

How We Help In A Crisis: Yovany's Story

Poverty-stricken environments are rarely child friendly. The risks press in on every side, from unclean water or basic sanitation, to the lack of nutritious food that weakens their overall health.

But every once in a while we hear a story so frightening, it makes our hearts stop – and what happened to Yovany is one of those stories.

Yovany lived in an area of Honduras where few adults could find gainful employment. So Yovany did what he could to help, gathering scrap metal as he came home from school so his mother could sell it for extra money.

One day he found an object that felt so heavy in his hand, he was sure it would garner the extra funds they needed each month. He didn't realize it was a grenade, and when he got home and tossed his bag on the floor, the grenade exploded, inflicting tremendous damage to his body.

Rushed to the hospital, Yovany’s family didn’t know if he would survive, let alone how they would pay the swiftly mounting medical bills.

But Yovany was registered in a One Child Matters project, whose staff rushed to the family’s side. When they sent notice of his accident to our office, we knew where we could turn – to you, and to your donations to the Children’s Crisis Fund.

The Children’s Crisis Fund allows us to respond quickly to emergencies of all shapes and sizes, from the aftermath of super typhoons like the one that recently hit the Philippines, to the aid of children like Yovany who need emergency care.

After multiple surgeries to address the wounds in his arms, legs, and abdomen, the risk of infection was great. The doctors knew Yovany’s left eye was permanently damaged, and the CCF helped get him to follow-up appointments. It also helped the project staff respond to Yovany’s emotional needs as he adjusted to his new reality.

Today, Yovany has worked through his sadness and frustration. He continues to be highly involved with the activities at his project and is doing well in school. “I thank God for giving me a second chance at life,” Yovanny shared with us recently. His mother agreed, saying that “the care you have given my child is a great example of the love God has for each one of us.”

That is the glory of the Children’s Crisis Fund – it acts as an extension of God’s love, moving in response to tremendous need, a tangible expression of His mercy and grace.

Please consider donating to the Children’s Crisis Fund this year so we can continue to help children like Yovany when their needs go beyond what sponsorship can provide. The CCF also allows us to respond to larger-scale events like the disaster in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Thank you for your generous gifts – we are so grateful for your prayers and support as we meet the needs of children all over the world.

Prayers And Progress In The Philippines

The reports from the Philippines continue to challenge and encourage us.

Our staff and partners are working hard to continually evaluate the needs of the three communities we serve. Relief supplies from partners like Convoy of Hope are helping feed families – thousands of enriched rice packs, which are enough to feed a family of six, continue to be distributed.

Our projects continue to operate as strategic hubs of care and support. The church building in Daan Bantayan has one of the few working water filters thanks to the quick action of our partners and support from the Children’s Crisis Fund. Pastor Victor estimates that they are one of the few centers offering respite and relief to this community of 1600. They continue to feed more than 200 kids.

Some of the first tarps went to the church building to protect the families who seek shelter there at night. During the day, meals are distributed and families come to get clean water. Medical clinics have been held there.

The impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan on the surrounding area continues to astound relief workers. Palm trees either bent by the force or were snapped off at the top, leaving eerie trunks reaching toward the sky. Homes were completely destroyed, and families are building shelter out of whatever’s left. Revealing the desperation of these families, many are seeking shelter in the nearby graveyards; the crypts were some of the few structures still standing in the wake of the storm.

Here are the prayer requests and the praises from the staff ministering in these areas:

PRAISE: The customs office renewed the certification needed to release the container held at their port. Praise God that these much-needed supplies are making their way north to the areas hard hit by the Super Typhoon. What’s more – 4 more container ships are on their way across the ocean. Please continue praying for favor with the authorities so these supplies are not held up in any bureaucratic way.

PRAISE: For the volunteers who continue to help the staff prepare supplies and meet the needs of the children at the projects. So far, 13 Bible College students helped assemble bags, and women who graduated from the Philippines Child Rescue Home also volunteered at the medical clinic in Daan Bantayan. Countless others are donating to the Children’s Crisis Fund, continuing to help us meet needs there!

REQUESTS: Travel to the hard-hit areas remains difficult, as the few roads remaining are clogged with supplies for distribution. We praise God that the staff’s knowledge of the area (many were born in the region) allowed the team to find alternate routes. Please pray that God continues to make a way for both our staff and for the supplies needed all over the Philippines.

Pray also for continued strength and guidance for the staff.

Pray for protection for the children who are surviving in these unsafe conditions. Some authorities are reporting that children in the affected regions are at higher risk for trafficking and exploitation as parents struggle to provide for them. Many safe places such as schools were destroyed. We praise God that two of our three project buildings still stand, and continue to serve the community.

Please continue to donate to the Children’s Crisis Fund, which is helping us respond to both the urgent needs for things like food, shelter, and water, while also evaluating the long-term needs like rebuilding the project building at Ati and other homes in the community.

Thanks as always for your prayers – as our partner Glenn, who has lived in the Philippines for years has shared, “Praise the Lord with us. God is so good. He is hearing and answering all kind of prayers.”

Storm Does Not Dampen The Hearts Of Children

Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the Ati Child Development Center in the Philippines -- but it is still a magnet for kids! Even the seasonal heavy rains can't keep these kids from playing!

Special thanks to Sarah, a servant-hearted woman who works at one of our less-affected projects in the Philippines, but was among the first to reach these hard hit areas to check on the children!

How The CCF Helps Us Respond In The Philippines

It’s been a week since Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Here’s what we’ve learned since then:

Our staff and partners in the Philippines are simply incredible.

So far, they’ve been able to confirm that the children in the projects affected are okay. And here’s what they’re doing to keep them that way – and how you can help!

First, a group of staff traveled from the main office in the Philippines to the northern area on Cebu Island that was harder hit. They had packed a bus full of supplies, but it was very slow going.

They had lists of the children in each community and had to set off on foot to try and track them down. This took so much fortitude and dedication, but our staff love the children just as much as we the sponsors do.

The needs are tremendous, but we are in it for the long-haul.

News reports continue to point out that the relief supplies aren’t making it to people on the
outskirts – but that’s where we already are. The communities know us and trust us, and because we are already committed to their health and well-being, we are uniquely positioned to help them through the arduous rebuilding process.

So far, donations to the Children’s Crisis Fund have gone to purchase food, water, and medicine; to transport those supplies (the devastation in the area meant we had to get creative, such as renting boats from less affected areas to get to the other islands where our projects are located); securing supplies like tarps for temporary shelters and buying generators to help the projects continue to operate plus fuel to keep them running.

In the three communities we serve that were hit hard, most of the homes were destroyed. Donations to the CCF will help us respond to the needs of your sponsored child's family as best we can, which is why continued donations are so important!

The CCF while help us respond to the children's families while also helping the projects continue to serve the children.

Each of the three projects suffered structural damage. The project at Daan Bantayan lost large portions of its roof, as did the project and church building at Masapascua.

The project that served the Ati tribal region, a remote community on another island, was in a simple building that was completely destroyed. The Ati community is already beginning to repair their homes, and we are committing to rebuild the project that provided such valuable help to the children there.

We’re meeting the pressing needs, anticipating what's next, and responding as best we can.

Yesterday, we learned that those you helped us minister to have become ministers themselves. Girls who graduated from the Philippines Child Rescue Home (many of whom were rescued out of exploitative or trafficking situations) volunteered to help relief efforts. They and the nurse from another One Child Matters project traveled north to Daan Bantanyan to put on a free medical clinic. The scrapes and cuts many children have received could easily become infected – a potentially life-threatening situation in this region where there is no treatment available.

This is the type of response you can help provide through the Children’s Crisis Fund. Please donate and help us continue to meet the needs in these three communities. One of our staff members offered this prayer request:

We need all the Lord’s strength. I still have no way to understand their depths of despair or anguish… it seems each hour we hear of another group still unreached and begging for help. My staff is emotionally exhausted already, it takes me back to years ago when I learned I have to leave them all in His hands and remember He carries us all. I also learned that many people were there to lift me up when I became too weary to even pray for myself.

Please continue to lift up the helpless, homeless and hungry. And then pray for those giving a helping hand!

Thank you for your donations and for all your prayers. Please share these requests and continue to lift up the people of the Philippines!

Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (Psalm 5:11)

More Prayer Requests From The Philippines

We’re continuing to receive updates from our staff in the Philippines. Here’s what we know, and here’s how you can help:

Three of our projects were in the direct path of the Super Typhoon Haiyan. Those three projects are Daan Bantayan Child Development Center (PH-003), Lugon Malapascua Child Development Center (PH-004), and the Ati Child Development Center (PH-006).

We praise God that so far, there are no major injuries or deaths in our projects – the children are safe.

Here’s what our staff have to say, and ways that you can pray with us:

The needs are tremendous. Due to the extreme poverty in that region, homes were simple and could not withstand the force of the storm. The town of Daan Batayan is “devastated and unrecognizable;” our staff estimates that 90% of the homes destroyed.

One of the best ways you can help is to donate to the Children’s Crisis Fund. This is what we use to respond quickly, providing for basic needs and allowing the projects to become centers of help and hope.

Our staff is seeing this in these devastated communities, where families rode out the storm together in the church buildings that also operate as our child development centers. As one put it, “kids instantly know where to go for help, because it is where they have been getting help all along. God is their safe haven.”

The projects and partner churches will also need help to continue these vital relief efforts. Many of their buildings were damaged, and yet their doors are open, providing shelter to families who have lost everything.

Your generous donations to the Children’s Crisis Fund will help us continue to meet the incredible needs in this area as we help our projects and the communities they serve rebuild.

In addition, here’s how you can pray:

Our staff already has a 40-foot container at the port on Cebu Island which is filled with the protein-enriched rice packs (often called Manna Packs) which are crucial to meeting the nutritional needs of entire families during trying times. Please pray that the bureaucratic red tape is cut away, allowing the container to get to the people who need it most. We know if God can part the Red Sea, He can part red tape as well! We need this container in the northern part of the island, please help us pray it there!

Here are some images of the staff packing up what they had on hand. To continue to meet the needs in these communities, please pray for the container to be released!

Please also continue to pray for those who are trying desperately to locate family members. One staff member shared her heart as she traveled north to find her mother, sister, and family:

“What I saw broke my inner being...but the thought of the people in the middle of it all, made me weak and literally, for that moment, my world stopped... I became speechless but pictures will speak to you in a language only your heart can understand. I arrived home but my mother was not around. They told me she went to the city with my sister, brother -in-law and two nieces to be able to get in touch with me and to ask for help. [When we finally met up] it was a beautiful reunion. 'Thank you,' my mother cried. 'I thought I never get to see you again!' A single hug was enough to ease the pain.”

We praise God that Sarah’s family weathered the storm, but we know countless others are still waiting on word. Please pray that the God of all comfort feels very real to them in this tremendously difficult time.

Friends, thank you for your care and support. Please consider giving to the Children's Crisis Fund. It will help us respond quickly and effectively -- thank you!

Update: Significant Damage In The Philippines

Friends, thank you for your patience and prayers.

We have received preliminary reports from our staff and friends in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (also called Typhoon Yolanda), one of the strongest storms ever recorded.

As we feared, the damage is severe. Our staff is in the process of reaching two of the areas that One Child Matters serves, but the roads and bridges are completely destroyed, and communications are still down.

As you can tell from the image above at right (courtesy of the Cebu Daily News), many families lost everything.

Here are some ways you can help right now:

Give to the Children's Crisis Fund, which is helping us respond quickly. Our staff in the Philippines were proactive, securing supplies and organizing transportation to the areas in the direct path of the storm. Your donations will help them continue their outreach and relief efforts in the two communities we serve that were hardest hit, Daan Batanyan and Malapascua.

Pray for the way to be made clear, for our staff who are traveling long distances in difficult conditions to try and locate children and their families. The damage is surreal, and many of our staff have family in the areas as well. While the northern part of the island of Cebu was hardest hit, other areas suffered damage, too, and several projects are continuing to minister to families in need where they are. 

Pray for supplies such as the protein-enriched rice packs that can feed entire families, a container of which is currently in a shipping yard. Pray for any red tape to be cut so these supplies, which the staff had been securing for other outreach efforts, could quickly make their way to the families in greatest need. Pray against corruption and that the officials in charge release the supplies quickly.

As always, we appreciate your patience as our staff work diligently to reach the children in our care. We will contact you directly if your sponsored child was affected.

Thank you again for your prayers. You are strengthening the staff who care for these children daily, and they need it now more than ever. Bless you!

What Sponsorship Does Today... And Tomorrow

Does sponsorship make a difference?

You may wonder about that when you pray over the photo of a child you've put on your fridge, or when you get communications from us in the mail. This commitment I've made, does it matter?

A few months ago, two staff from One Child Matters headquarters in Colorado Springs traveled through Ethiopia and Kenya on their way to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

As always, God directed their steps, bringing two children to the projects just so they could meet. Our friends had other meetings on their schedule, but when they met these two, it was obvious that God had something to say to us through them.

First: Antony. He attends a One Child Matters project in Kenya which helps him succeed in the nearby government school. Antony was eager to tell us all about his sponsors, even begging us to go to his house so he could show us their picture.

Antony's home is a simple mud structure, and when our friends stepped inside the dark hut, they were astonished to see a shelf built into the mud wall. Antony's mother had ensured her son would have a place to study by candelight. It is that little mud shelf you see at the beginning of this video:

Antony's love for his sponsor is so clear, so profound. His prayers are sincere, and their photo cherished.

We wanted to share Antony's story with you because sometimes it's hard to see the difference you are making on this side of eternity. But oh, just imagine the reunion in heaven when Antony will finally meet those who invested in him!

We pray that as you seek ways to make a difference in the life a child today, you recognize that sponsoring a child is effective and important. Which is why we've been talking so much about Hiwot, a young woman in Ethiopia who was sponsored from age 8 until she graduated.

Hiwot's gratitude was so evident, we asked her to share her story with all of our sponsors. Today, Hiwot has a bright future, and her heart for God continues to grow. Take a few moments and learn more about how sponsorship continues to shape Hiwot's life.

We love how sponsorship reflects the love of God into the heart of a child in need. And we are so grateful for your partnership in transforming the lives of children all over the world. Thank you for standing up, for proving that one child matters to you!

Massive Storm Strikes Philippines

Another massive storm is barreling down on an area where One Child Matters' projects are located, and we are requesting your prayers for the children and staff in that area.

Typhoon Haiyan is equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, with winds over 150mph and heavy rains, and is considered the strongest storm seen this year. The areas our projects serve are expecting to be hit hard.

We will post updates as we are able -- the staff have been able to report that they have preemptively sent additional food and supplies to areas that may be in greatest need. Please be patient as we wait for updates -- disasters like this often make communication difficult.

When natural disasters and personal emergencies strike the children we serve, we rely on the Children's Crisis Fund to respond. A small donation can go a long way in helping a family get back on their feet. Please consider making a donation today to help us meet the tremendous needs created by storms such as Haiyan.

Thanks as always for your prayers. In the past we have asked for prayer and seen storms turn around -- such is the power of our God, the storm-stiller. Please join us in praying for protection and provision for these children and their families.

How Children Are Affected In Disasters

A little more than two weeks ago, we asked you to pray for the children in our care in a region called Coastal Orissa in northeast India as a super cyclone came ashore, devastating this impoverished area.

Cyclone Phailin’s force as it made landfall was comparable to Hurricane Katrina – and given the fact that most people lived in fishing villages in simple structures of thatch and tin, the scale of this disaster is vast.

We’ve received an update on the damage to the communities our projects serve. If you’d like to help us respond to the urgent needs in this area, please consider making a donation to the Children’s Crisis Fund. Here are a few of the ways the children have been affected in the wake of the storm:

  • In some areas, the storm surge was between 6 and 12 feet high. Many people took shelter in our schools during the storm, yet the buildings also sustained significant damage. Many of the buildings lost their roofs or windows, and classrooms were damaged by the winds and rains.
  • Families in this region tried to make a living by fishing; the storm not only destroyed their homes, it swept their fishing boats out to sea, leaving many without means to earn an income.
  • Food is scarce and expensive – the cost of staples like onions and potatoes has risen 600 percent. Most families are living off of dal (lentils) and rice. Currently the projects are feeding the children each day (even if school is not held) but there is not enough food to feed their parents and siblings, too.
  • Thankfully, the government is trucking in clean water twice a day, but it is not enough to sustain people. In some areas, our projects had wells, but many are now filled with sand or polluted with runoff and not suitable for drinking.
  • Sanitation methods were destroyed, putting people at increased risk for illnesses – whatever water that was left has stagnated; many doctors fear an outbreak of cholera.

This is why the Children's Crisis Fund (CCF) is so important. It enables us to respond quickly to meet the urgent needs of families who may have lost everything. We can also use the CCF to help projects repair damage, allowing ministry to the children to continue during a critical time.

As always, we will contact you if your sponsored child was directly affected by Phailin or by any other disaster. Your sponsorship, combined with measures like the Children's Crisis Fund, help meet the needs of your child who otherwise may be overlooked in times of disaster.

Your prayers for the children and their families in Costal Orissa are as valuable as ever. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support for the children!