How one picture rocked my world

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“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”  ~Mother Teresa
This is the picture that changed my life.  It’s a picture taken by Emily (Walters) Laney when she served at this particular orphanage in the Sudan several years ago.  When she brought it back with her, it bothered me constantly.  I was told there were around 80 kids in this orphanage and 4 workers plus 2 American helpers.  How in the world would these babies receive what they need?  Touch?  Look in the eye?  Emotional direction?  I had just had my first little girl prior to seeing this picture.  And, I found myself asking the question, “what is the difference between my girl and these babies in the Sudan”?  I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer.  And, if I was being honest with myself,  I would never participate in helping these kids.  I was busy with life and family and ministry, etc, etc. 
My wife and I stepped out on faith in July 2010 to do something about this orphan epidemic.  After 8 months of caring for our second child with special needs, and at the same time developing a real strategy to care for orphans through the church, we are now running through the door of opportunity, putting everything on the line to make it happen….I mean everything.  
Our organization is called Patch Our Planet.  You probably already know that much by now.  I think everyone recognizes that the orphan “system” in this world is broken. And, we believe the best patch is the Church.  Our vision is to lead the effort to bring the Church back to the forefront of the Orphan Epidemic. 
Here’s how we are doing it:
We have developed 2 strategies for the local church.  A Local Orphan Strategy (Foster children) and a Global Orphan Strategy (World Orphans).  These strategies offer an easy step by step process for church leadership and it also covers how to engage the church in the process.  It’s thorough and it’s detailed.  It’s a long term plan and it focuses on sustainability, not co-dependence.  And, the entire process was created with the orphans’ best interest in mind.  We are confident that it’s going to change the way the local church cares for orphans.  We want to be a blessing to the church and not a burden.
What’s the process?  In these early stages, I meet with pastors and church leaders to collaborate with them on an orphan strategy for their church under the vision of their church.  That’s important.  That means that their church can be involved in the process as much or as little as they desire.  And, the strategy is flexible for a church of 70 or 7,000 like our first partner, First Baptist Woodstock. We just want to help every church get engaged at some level
This is where you can help:  
We’ve committed to leading the effort to educate and equip the local church to care for orphans all across our country and around the world.  In the early life cycle of any new work, there are tremendous needs, things that need to happen in order to set up a successful, long term ministry.  That’s just the reality of our world.  Our support comes from individuals, churches & businesses making a one time or monthly commitment.  I would be untruthful if I told you that we did not need some serious help at this critical juncture.  We do.  Our budget is $61,000 for the year.  We are grateful to have raised around $8,500 since February when we officially started.  We have more churches coming on board in the new year, but our need is now and critical.  We see doors opening and how God is at work in our ministry.  Time is critical to us because we are unable to accomplish this great vision without the resources.  If you have been waiting for a good time to get involved….well, it really is now.
Why do we need your help?  Patch Our Planet desires to “adopt” one of three orphanages in Costa Rica where we already have a strong global partner in place.  We are modeling what we are teaching to other churches.  We are so excited about the future and how we can personally help orphans through the local church.  
So, would you commit to praying for us for the following things?
*Monthly and one time financial partners
*Courage for our family as we step out on faith
*Completion of the POP book (remember, we want every church involved…this is a great way to help)
*Open doors to churches (church partnerships and more opportunities to share in the churches about the vision of POP)
*Pioneer Sponsors (churches, individuals, businesses who believe in the vision)
*Wisdom in all decision making
*Patch Party Hosts (grassroots fund raising help from friends who believe in what we are doing and want to share it with their friends)
Thank you for taking time to read this blog update.  You know, I don’t know where we would be right now had Emily not answered the call to care for orphans and bring back her pictures several years back.  That picture rocked my world.  And, I’m so glad it did…. Every church in every community caring for every orphan.  If each church just does what it can…..it will be enough.
For the unwanted & forgotten,
Steve Gillis
Founder/Exec. Dir, Patch Our Planet 
 
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