I believe the Church has the opportunity to turn the orphan crisis on its head.
I really do.
But there are so many bad mission trip practices that we, as the Church, need to leave behind.
I’m not going to start a list, but I will mention a couple.
1. We would never say that we are better than other people in other countries but we secretly believe it sometimes because we have more resources than some others. That has to change. It makes us act like superheroes on our trip and we convey a “we are here to save you” attitude instead of “we are here to serve you”.
2. We see a week of opportunity and we want to maximize our efforts in that week to meet our goals. The problem is just that. They really shouldn’t be just “our goals”. Global locals (or glocals) often refer to teams from the West as “Parachute Ministries”, dropping in and leaving without getting to know those whom they are serving with. That has to change.
And the list could go on.
Don’t get me wrong. There have been SO many wonderful mission trips taken in the past with eternal value. But we should all strive to do things a little better and not settle for what has always been.
With that in mind, let me mention a few important elements of a global orphan care team:
1. Cultural sensitivity – Teams need to be aware of the culture they are entering and need to know how to be sensitive to local partnerships. Humility is a characteristic that will successfully cut through every environment. Let it be real.
2. Sustainability – Be careful not to do things for others that they can do for themselves. Be careful not to create dependents. Instead, create partners who are invested in their own community. Orphan care teams should always look beyond the current trip to see the bigger picture of community sustainability.
3. Relief vs. Development – Teams need to know the difference between the two. Key in on development as soon as you can.
4. Develop the same goals – Ultimately, work toward helping orphans acquire a family through adoption (local first, then international). Support orphanage workers, and consider orphanages as a place of transition and not permanency. Try not to visit an orphanage without the involvement of the local church. And always make decisions based on the best interest of the children.
These are just a few important elements of a global orphan team. There are so many more.
For further research and for great orphan care resources, check out our Orphan Care Curriculum (downloadable starting May 1) and go to http://www.christianalliancefororphans.org/ for other great resources.
Also, make sure to check out the leading orphan care conference around – www.cafo2014.org.
Hope you can join us!
For the sake of church and child,Steve Gillis Executive Director www.patchourplanet.org