I just wanted to share this great site with you. Miranda Nelson is a international speaker, model, author, visionary, and all-round beautiful person. She has a range of printed tank tops and t-shirts that I love, as they make identity-affirming statements which I’m all about, and part of the proceeds go to support ‘Project Orphans’ who aim to provide safe homes for children in dangerous situations. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you will know that loving orphans is really important to me!
Miranda also has a great blog filled with wisdom on health, food, beauty and other things. I encourage you to take a look. You’ll be blessed.
If you spend time with me in person, you will very quickly discover the things I get passionate about. There are a number of them! But sharing the love of Christ with those that need it, both in practical ways and also meeting the needs of the heart; then looking at long-term solutions for every person to enjoy the fullness of life that God has created for us – those are biggies. I love the big picture, but also the details. I love cultures and nations, but also love the one, and sowing into a single life the love of Christ in whatever ways he opens up.
I’ve felt heavy of heart lately with the sheer enormity of the needs of people across our nation and the globe. The estimate of people currently in need of humanitarian assistance has risen from 82 to 102 million people just in the last 8 months. The scale and sometimes complicated circumstances around some of these situations can make it easier to turn away from, as it seems that what we can do is so little.
I realise I can’t change the world for every person, but I sure can for one. Every single life is worthy of touching with the love of Christ. Love does not hold prejudice, or make a judgement on which life is more worthy than the next. Love has to look like something that is more than words or good intentions.
I love this:
“I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important and that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionise the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities, nations, and yes, the world.” (Beth Clark in “Kisses from Katie”, by Katie Davis)
If I turned up on your doorstep and was in desperate need of your help, would you turn me away? Think about it. Picture my face. Imagine my children at my heels. Of course you wouldn’t. You’d invite me in. You’d meet the most immediate needs right then and there. You’d care for my children. If need be, you’d help me work out a plan for my future. You’d pray for me, hug me, and encourage me with hope.
And now imagine again, and this time picture this woman at your doorstep, with the same needs.
Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas
The fact is, there’s no difference between this woman and me. Other than the obvious cultural difference and geography, she’s a mother like me, she loves her children and wants to see them live the best life they can. She hopes that one day they will never have to worry about having enough to live. She wants them to have an education, and gain skills that will see them through life. I want this for my children too.
This women, and others like her, are not on my literal doorstep, but in a sense they are. We share the same earth under our feet, and neither of us chose where we would be born. I was blessed to be born and raised in a country without war and one with a ‘safety net’ via our Government should I ever need it.
Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas
Will you look at what you have in your hands today, and considering offering what you have to be Jesus’ hands and feet?
“When we teach our children about the world outside their doorstep, we widen their awareness and understanding to different worldviews and ways of life beside their own. This awareness will be a springboard into equipping them in reaching out purposefully with love and compassion to people of other nations. [Read more]“
I’d love for you to take a look and consider doing this mini study with your children this season.
My dear friend Isabel is such a source of inspiration to me. Her family have dedicated their lives to serving and loving the most vulnerable and needy and have done so for many years.
So when the activity to interview a foster worker came up in our ‘Prayer and Personal Involvement Journal’, I thought we’d take the opportunity to tweak the activity a bit and instead ask Isabel about her experience as a foster parent. I also sneaked a few questions in there about her work with orphans. She has a huge heart and great capacity to love.
I hope your heart is stirred for loving the most vulnerable children. We may not all get to travel to Africa, but there is much we can do. It takes all kinds of participation!
1. How did you get involved with foster care?
I have had a passion for abandoned children since my early childhood. My husband Richard was himself adopted and has always had a tender spot in his heart for fostering/adopting. The Lord released us into fostering when we came to NZ 8 years ago. After fostering short-term and respite, along came our fifth child who we have now been fostering for over 6 years and has become a permanent member of our family.
2. What is the greatest challenge in foster care?
For short term:getting attached to children and then having to give them up again
For respite: adjusting your family routine constantly to changing children which I found very intense.
For permanent care: the issues that you deal with from a child that has had a difficult start in life. But we absolutely LOVE the tremendous GIFT and ENRICHMENT that our foster son brings to our family, and the challenges pale in comparison to the JOYS!
3. How can a family participate in foster care?
There is a GREAT need for all types of foster care mentioned above. PLEASE consider opening your home to a child/children through foster care. You have to know the Lord is calling you to it, but if you feel a tug on your heart, don’t be held back by fear about how you will be able to handle it. It IS a step of faith but the Lord will be there to help and there is a lot of support available. In NZ there is no financial burden at all, as all costs are covered – quite the contrary to those caring for orphans in Africa!
4. Please share with us a little about your work with orphans.
Three years ago, God has led me to come alongside existing African initiatives that care for orphans and vulnerable children.
I feel to strengthen and empower these through friendship, prayer, support-raising and input to carry the heavy load with them and enable them to serve and care for the orphans more effectively.
I currently support 2 projects in Uganda:
Home(s) of Praise – a children’s home (hopefully soon 2 family homes) – caring for close to 40 children at present – near Kampala. Praise has become my much loved daughter which is priceless and much more than a ministry!
Hope In Villages+ – a sponsorship programme to help vulnerable family units keep children that would otherwise end up abandoned/in orphanages in the very poor villages surrounding the YWAM base near Jinja. Through our home church in NZ, 65 children are now able to go to school and get discipled. Their caregivers are getting trained in micro-business at present to empower them out of extreme poverty.
5. What is life like for these children?
It is very hard yet full of joy for the children. They live very simply, without electricity, proper sanitation, have to carry heavy water long distances daily. Showers are sponge baths in the open. They wash their own clothes. The older children look after the younger ones. In the “Home of Praise”, up to now, they have been living in an unfinished house, 2-3 in a bed (that will soon change) with rats nibbling on fingers and toes while they sleep, bats flying over them for lack of windows and occasional snakes. They have many mosquitoes that carry malaria and the children get malaria regularly, even though they now have mosquito nets. They constantly have to fight jiggers (worms) in their feet that come from the mud.
Their greatest treasure is God and the highlight of their day their devotional time with praise/worship/prayers and teaching. They love to sing, play drums and dance and are generally very happy and content. Up until now they are not eating when it rains (about half the year) since their food is cooked on an open fire. But money has been raised for a kitchen to be constructed that will enable them to eat regularly. They do get to go to the school that Praise started, but it is very basic and nothing compared to the education our children are receiving – hopefully that will change soon!
6. What vision do you have for the work in Uganda that you are involved in?
For Homes of Praise – Praise and I are envisioning 4 houses to be built where children live in family units with a mother and a father (about 20 per home). We would like to see a well on the property, proper sanitation, a kitchen and a proper school with qualified teachers. We would like the ministry to eventually become self-sufficient. We envision the children to become strong godly leaders that will impact their nation and the nations!
Hope In Villages+: As we are now starting to empower the children’s caregivers where possible (hard for the old grandmothers), it is our hope that they will eventually become self-sufficient and won’t need sponsorships indefinitely. The vision that YWAM Hopeland and I have are transformed communities where HOPE is alive and children can grow up to be productive, God-loving adults with thriving families transforming their nation.
Isabel’s first time meeting Jo
7. What can your average family do towards caring for orphaned children?
There is no limit to what a family can do! Ask God – be creative and use what’s in your ‘hands’. Ask the Lord to give you HIS heart for the orphans and you WILL find a way to do something!
Adopt an orphan in prayer (I can give you a photo)
Sponsor a child to go to school ($25/month)
Write to your sponsored child and possibly develop a relationship
Get together with other homeschoolers for occasional or regular fundraisers
We pray regularly for the children and my 10 year old daughter has decided that she wants to save all her pocket-money and earnings from extra jobs to help pay for schooling for Praise’s children. It is great for our children to become sensitive to those less fortunate than them and to pray, share and work to help them!
~ Isabel is about to leave for Uganda in a week, so I would so appreciate you praying for her time there and also for her family who are remaining behind this time. ~
** Thanks to Isabel for the use of her beautiful photos.
[Our cousins are also in Uganda – I’ll tell you about them another time]
We’ve been taking a focused look on various topics in our social studies, choosing one topic per month to concentrate our studies around. I grouped most of the books in our reading list at the beginning of the year into different themes, which include the British Isles, New Zealand, The Old and New Testaments, exploration, and so forth. [Most of our books for this year come from Sonlight Core C, World History Y2].
Each month we include a person of interest, mapping exercises, reading aloud together, notebooking pages, and various other activities depending on the theme and what resources we have.
I made my own cover for the journal so I didn’t have to print the solid colour version.
So this month is all about how children of the world live. I’ve been looking forward to this one all year! Justice and compassion issues are really important to us as a family, and we plan to continue to lay this into our children’s worldview. We already do lots of things as a family in terms of supporting others and loving and giving where we can. But sometimes it’s good to have some intentional and concentrated learning time as well, just to bring a different dimension to putting this emphasis in our children’s value system. One day, it will be up to them to decide what they do with all this.
Here’s what we’re aiming for (with our almost 8 year old daughter):
To widen her growing awareness of how others live;
To cultivate a heart of thankfulness;
To stir a missions heart and encourage a response in reaching out to others;
We’re weaving our history and geography in by marking places on our world map and doing notebooking and copywork pages that I printed free from various websites.
The main resource that my daughter is using to write in is a printable activity e-book (from Winter Promise) which includes activities and suggested for serving and reaching out to children. Because doing we’re enough writing as part of this unit study, we’re taking a couple of weeks off our regular writing program (Writing with Ease).
Most of our learning will take place simply by reading selections from these great books aloud, through discussion together, and through using a few simply writing and craft activities to reinforce it. So far we are really enjoying this together. It really can be that simple! And really at this age, it probably needs to be.
Here are a couple of the suggested activities from the prayer journal e-book (well worth purchasing this super resource – then you can also read the text that relates to the activities):
Write a thank you card to Dad for providing for us
Volunteer at the local soup kitchen
Interview a foster care worker
Follow a 30-day calender and pray for the need listed on each day
Read about the life of Paul
Write to a missionary
I hope there’s something here that inspires you to do something similar in your learning at home to grow your child’s awareness, and stir their hearts to make a difference.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Domenic Johansson, who was forcibly removed from his parents almost 4 years ago while they were boarding a flight to India. Domenic was homeschooled, which at the time was legal in Sweden.
His parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, appealed to the Swedish Supreme Court to hear their case. Last Friday the Johanssons learned that the Court has refused to hear their case.
The Johansson’s are currently reassessing their next steps after this discouraging setback.
Christer has been on Swedish Radio this last week and is updating friends and supporters on the family’s support page on Facebook.
Please continue to pray for heaven to move on their behalf!
Friends, can I ask you to have a read of this article on the Home Education Foundation of NZ? We are being encouraged to write to the Swedish Supreme Court and urge them to look at this case to overturn the decision of a lower court. Domenic Johansson was taken from his parents when they were boarding a flight to leave the country during the school holidays – simply because he was homeschooled.
This is heartbreaking, and an absolutely inhumane intervention from a Government to hold a child from his loving parents for three years without good reason.
A letter will take you about 10 minutes to write. You could be the drop that fills the glass. Tell everyone you know to write. This is about more than just homeschooling.
The world is watching. Let the Swedish Supreme Court know it!
And pray pray pray to move heaven into this situation.
“…what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8