A couple of days ago I was asked, "If the World Orphans ministry was a vehicle, what type of vehicle would it be?" I was also told to reply with a list of specific adjectives.

My response was that I didn’t even need to think about it. It was already quite clear and obvious to me. I simply recounted the vehicle that I’ve come to know and love during visits to the majority world.

World Orphans would be a Toyota Land Cruiser. But I don’t mean the luxury "soccer mom" models available here in the US. What I’m talking about is the Series 78 Troop Carrier, the stripped-out utility version seen in the more rugged areas of the developing world. This is the one that can transport eleven people through the use of jump seats in the cargo area, the one with rear barn doors that swing wide open for the quick loading and unloading of groups and accompanying supplies.

Land_cruiser_78_whiteThere is a safari/adventure look and feel to this vehicle. It would be right at home in the Dakar Rally through the deserts of Northern Africa, but equally at home in the boggy jungles of the Amazon basin. It is purely utilitarian and practical with large, bulky tires and a plain metal interior. Strapped to the side is an engine snorkel that allows the vehicle to ford streams and get to difficult places that don’t show up on maps. Weather and terrain don’t hold it back. It’s a powerful, heavy-duty, diesel 4WD with all wheels economically engaged in the work at hand. Bullbars and towbars flank its front and rear to both forge ahead and to help out along the way. It’s no toy. It’s a tough and adaptable workhorse.

Land Cruisers are safe, dependable, easily repairable…a shelter from the elements and tough situations…mobile MASH units…group transport and care tools. They are part of the environment, part of the culture.

This is in contrast to the Range Rover vehicles that are typically associated with foreign NGO’s overseas. Range Rovers give off an air of imperialism, of British/Western influence and control. The Land Cruiser, on the other hand, is less ethnocentric and gives the feeling of participation and partnership. Less Western. More inviting.

The no-frills version of the Land Cruiser 78 Series represents what World Orphans’ church-based children’s homes are all about. Our homes are simple, durable rescue centers, not the marble-clad, western-style-toilet-in-every-room, "sugar daddy," orphanages that many organizations feel they need to build. Our homes are designed to be places of refuge, safety and love, but built to a standard that doesn’t spoil and hinder the eventual transition of the children back into general society. Nor do they create misperceptions in the minds of the surrounding community.

The Land Cruiser 78 is descriptive of our call: functional, practical, serviceable, down-to-earth, enduring solutions. They are safe havens that are mobile and easily placed, no matter what the circumstances.

Likewise, our homes are easily placed…wherever there is the need and a local indigenous church that stands ready to care. They are not usually held back by restrictions, limitations or difficult considerations. They forge ahead, overcome obstacles, and get the task done.