Here’s just few of the ways…
THE MODEL: Church Growth through Attraction.
As a church takes care of the community’s orphaned and abandoned children, the community takes notice. The community becomes attracted by the tangible love the church shows for it. The neighbors become more open to what the church has to say. They want to know more.
As a result of the church’s increased goodwill and ministry opportunities, it grows. This growth translates into an improved ability to fund the necessary costs associated with raising the children, especially since the children’s home was one of the key attractions to the church in the first place.
As the church grows at a steady pace, western funds can be gradually reduced accordingly, providing for a very smooth weaning process.
PLACEMENT: Church Growth through Community Expansion.
World Orphans homes are placed on the grounds of churches that are in the midst of the burgeoning trend of global urbanization. They are often situated in or near ever-expanding slum communities that try to assimilate impoverished new migrants into the city. It is within these populations that the primary causes of orphaning and abandonment are most prevalent.
As the surrounding population increases, the church grows and has a greater capacity to meet the monetary needs of caring for the children.
VOLUNTEERISM: Church Members Helping Out in Increasing Numbers.
Staffing costs are greatly reduced as church members help meet the additional care, maintenance and administrative needs of a children’s home. The proximity of the home makes it extremely visible to the members and allows it to become the most immediate and assessable volunteerism opportunity. As the attendees of the church get more and more comfortable with the project (as they fall in love with the children), the involvement increases.
And, as the church grows, a greater number of people are available to get involved as full or part-time volunteers. This all translates into better care and opportunities for the children, but also reduced costs in running the home.
PARTNERSHIPS: Church Growth through Equipping and Training.
At World Orphans, we endeavor to partner churches in the west with the churches rescuing children in the developing world. As a western church maintains and deepens its relationships with an indigenous church and its children’s home, more opportunities accrue to that indigenous church.
The western church may eventually send teams – teams that attract the attention of the surrounding community; teams that provide various training and equipping to the indigenous church leaders; teams that could assist with the setting up of income-generating projects (see below).
In short, the partnership with a church in the west eventually enables the indigenous church to be stronger. That strength translates into further church growth and a reduced reliance on funds from the west.
INCOME GENERATION: Projects.
Sometimes, it just makes sense to invest in a one-time project that creates ongoing funding for a children’s home. Just one example: We invested $25,000 and drilled down through over 300 meters of solid granite in order to strike water on the property of a church-based home in Africa. Not only could this clean water meet the needs of the children’s home and the poor in the surrounding community, the city was willing to pay for the water to supplement its own supply needs. This ongoing payment could sustain the whole operational costs of the children’s home.
Various horticultural and agricultural projects also fit into this category. An added benefit is that the children witness and learn trade skills as these projects come to fruition and are maintained. Such projects should never require the labor of the children as that, quite rightly, creates perceptions of exploitation. But an income-generating project can certainly be used in a training context while the project provides funding that enables the children to live, learn and grow.
INCOME GENERATION: Schools.
Children in church-based homes obviously need education and social integration. At World Orphans, we believe that it is extremely important to have the children educated with their community peers. This helps to break down barriers of ostracization and stigmatization and gives the rescued children an increased sense of belonging. Clearly, it’s also important to see these children receiving school instruction that reinforces the teaching and example of Christ that they see and experience in their home at the church.
It consequently makes sense to also develop schools on the property of the church. From a financial standpoint, most of the children we serve reside in countries that require school fees to be paid to institutions of learning. Therefore, a church-based school not only saves the tuition costs of the rescued children, but can also be an income-generator as community families pay to have their children educated by the church. Often Christian schools have a very good reputation within their local populace. As a result, they are highly-sought out by parents that desire to have the best education possible for their kids.
We’ve seen many cases where an initial investment in a church school provides income that can totally pay for the ongoing needs of the children that have been rescued by the church.
A word of caution is needed here, though. Often schools can provide so much income that there becomes a temptation to start using the orphaned-children’s infrastructure for that purpose entirely. But this fact simply underscores the need to use the right due diligence process, identify the right partners, and establish the right accountability systems.
If done correctly, these and a variety of other factors and involvements, provide for the long-term self-sustainability of church-based children’s homes.