January 19, 2024

Global Orphan Outreach: The Story of The Boaz Project

“April, did you see that thing last night on 60 Minutes?” the voice on the other end of the phone asked.
“You mean the 20/20 piece about Russian orphans?” she interrupted.
“You saw it?” came the reply.
“No,” she answered, “but this is the third phone call I’ve gotten about it.”

This is just one of the phone calls April Jurgensen, Founder of The Boaz Project, received from a friend after a heartbreaking TV special about the horrid living conditions in Russian orphanages.

Children too old to be left in cribs were seen rocking back and forth and banging their heads against the rails of their beds. The report told of babies dying because they couldn’t yet crawl to the bottle that had been tossed onto their mattresses, infants lying on soiled bed linens and older children who were drugged to make warehousing them simpler.

Finally, when April hung up the phone that day, she wondered, “Lord, is that you calling?”

A Calling to Save the World’s Most Vulnerable Population

In the days that followed those phone calls, April felt God began hounding her in earnest. When she spent time reading the New Testament each morning, suddenly, verses about the orphan and the fatherless started jumping out at her. She thought, “I’ve read these books of the Bible before. Why haven’t I ever noticed God’s passion for the orphan?”

From that point on, thoughts of helpless children distracted April’s thoughts during the day and often prevented her from sleeping at night. As only God could orchestrate, these inexplicable incidents happened while she was preparing to return to Russia for a short visit. In the days that followed, people started walking up to her, handing her money, and saying, “When you go back to Russia, can you see to it that this gets to an orphanage?”

She could not ignore that God was up to something…even when she tried.

So, April acted. She went to Walmart and filled a cart with Tylenol, socks, underwear, bibs, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and more. There were so many items she had to sit on the suitcases to zip them closed. And with care packages in tow, she boarded the plane.

Understanding the Need to Show Christ’s Love to Scared & Abandoned Children

Before they could even get off the ground, April discovered that the family seated in the row in front of her was returning to their work in an orphanage in Moscow. This wasn’t just any orphanage, however—it was one of the orphanages 20/20 had filmed!

When April de-boarded the plane, she began asking all her Russian friends, “Do you know anyone who works in an orphanage?” Within two days, she had found connections in two orphanages that would set the direction of The Boaz Project’s future course. 

She delivered the items from her suitcases and bought a cargo van’s capacity of other things the children needed: snow boots, school supplies and other items they were not able to afford.

The stories were now alive to her. The children she met were no longer tidbits in news magazines. They were real children with names and talents and wounds. Their cries were now audible. Their haunting eyes chilled her. All she had heard about on 20/20, she had now seen firsthand.

She knew she had to do something to aid in global orphan outreach, but that she could not do it alone.

The Birth of a Life-Changing Community & Organization

Within days of my return home, April found herself telling everyone she saw about the children she had met, but she couldn’t stop there. Sending email blasts to friends from out of town and talking to her church’s missions committee, she felt a burden to get the word out as far as she could.

April was finally sensing that God planned something greater than two suitcases and that she owed a debt of gratitude to 20/20. But she still didn’t realize that what began out of sheer desire to obey God’s command in James 1:27 would change the course of her life. 

April didn’t know that orphans would rock her theology and pierce my heart. She couldn’t have imagined that the little faces she had yet to meet would nimbly change her perspective on everything.

But she knew she could never walk away from their need—and so, The Boaz Project was born.

With over 25 years of experience and a network of like-minded people around the globe, The Boaz Project can help you show Christ’s love to scared and abandoned children.

To learn how you can help save orphaned children from life on the streets—connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit our website here.

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Encounter the impact of our global orphan outreach program.

Watch “Heart of Boaz” to see the true effect of orphan care and ministry.


  1. David Mercier says:

    I never get tired of hearing this story!

    • April Jurgensen says:

      That’s good, because you certainly heard it numerous times! Haha

      We’re so thankful for the many years you POURED into Russia and it’s most vulnerable children.

      • Ava McGinnis says:

        It’s wonderful to see how God brought you to make The Boaz Project and how you took that chance and now look how far you’ve come taking care of orphans and teaching them about God and helping them in anyway you possibly can! It’s a wonderful story! ❤️

      • Barry says:

        What a story to celebrate! So thankful for you and your work. May the nudge God gave you toward caring for orphans and coming alongside caregivers influence an ever growing number of people to be engaged in the work (and pay attention to such nudges in their own lives).

  2. Jill Dyer says:

    God certainly was persistent until April responded! Now so many orphans’ lives have been changed for eternity. May I be ready to listen and act the next time God taps me on the shoulder with a way to be His hands and feet.

    • April Jurgensen says:

      Yeah…I was a little slow on the uptake 🙂 But God kept hounding.

      And for the record, I think you model that readiness on many levels. You are great evidence that there are numerous ways to fight on behalf of the voiceless.

  3. Amanda Reed says:

    I love this story! Through continuing to engage in Boaz Project’s online meetings such as “Encounters”, and zoom with house parents, these children are becoming more and more and more close to my heart everyday, as I see their faces, hear their stories, and learn some of their names:)

    • April Jurgensen says:

      I love how God has knit you right into the Boaz family, despite geographic distance. We love your vision. compassion, and drive to serve orphans. <3

  4. Darla Matthews says:

    The first time I heard about The Boaz Project was in 2004 (I think). April came to CCML to share about Boaz. To hear the plight of those children in Russia made me want to jump on a plane and go bring some of them home with me. I retired from my job in 2017 and was then able to begin volunteering at Boaz on a regular basis. I am so grateful for the work they do now in three countries, and so blessed to be able to serve the children God loves so much.

  5. Sarah Shake says:

    I agree with David, I never get tired of this story. Having traveled to India with the Boaz Project, I know what April means when she says, “The stories were alive to me… they were real children with names and talents.” But because of the incredible work the Boaz Project and the children’s care givers are doing, I did not see the haunting eyes and here the cries of these children. I met sparkling eyes and heard cries of joys from children that know that Jesus loves them.

  6. Lauren Mcleish says:

    I think it is amazing that God calls us to do his work. I also admire your courage to listen to him!

  7. Maia Johnson says:

    Thank you, April, for responding to the God-nudge and taking the leap of faith to answer His calling. I love the heart of the Boaz ministry. Many young lives have been set on a new trajectory through your team’s compassionate, Christian care. Such an inspiration- praise God!

    • Monique Treasure says:

      I’m so thankful April obeyed God & started the Boaz Project! Thank you for sharing this with the world so we can join in & be apart of this great organization!

  8. Jessi Morton says:

    I was going to say the same as many others have…I never get tired of hearing this story. It’s like a great parable, where every time I hear it something new sticks out and pierces my heart. Thanks for continuing to tell it.

  9. Maggie Cripe says:

    This story brings tears to my eyes of how involved God is in our lives and how much He wants to use us if we are willing! I’m so glad you said yes April!

  10. George Mongeri says:

    This is a wonderful story which is so much inspiring. I realize that its God”s plan to take care of orphans.

  11. moriah says:

    This is such an inspiring story April. Doing things that not everyone has the guts to do and taking that leap of faith is truly a work of God. I’m so glad you did what you knew was God’s plan and have changed so many orphans lives for the better.

  12. Svetlana says:

    I don’t know if I have heard this story all together, just bits and pieces. I’m so glad you chose to listen to God’s calling and that He is using you for great things! On behalf on the orphans, I think it’s safe to say they, and we, are all so incredibly grateful for your faith.

  13. Mary Rayburn says:

    A truly inspiring story of God’s persistent call and April’s obedience. A story that continues to change lives for eternity. Thank you for inviting others to join you in this ministry. My view of orphan care has changed through partnership with The Boaz Project. I’m looking forward to learning more through the Orphan Advocate Training.

  14. Patti Rubino says:

    I never never tire from hearing this miraculous moving of the Holy Spirit – becoming a story of miracles of which I am blessed to now be a part of!!

    Whoever reads this take an hour to find out how to minister to orphans and give them “family” from far away and sign up for an encounter!!

  15. Mitul Patel says:

    It is so inspirational that you decided you could help and did just that. This growth and progress you’ve had is just amazing: you went from donating goods to now allowing so many other people to do those amazing things that you knew God was telling you to do. Thank you for also giving me this opportunity to help however I can.

  16. Brandi Ford says:

    I’ve struggled with understanding faith. I first struggled with feeling worthy and not understanding that our God no longer accepts doings as a form of praise or glory that would make me worthy. Sacrifices such as ones told of in The Old Testaments of The Bible are not where my salvation lies. Which shows such merciful love from The Creator. After I understood this more, I struggled with feeling like my faithfulness mattered. I lacked confidence in my ability to testify to others and share God’s glory. Not only does the Boaz project fulfill homes for orphans to gain sufficient value from, but those fellow wanderers and wonderers, including myself, can put our faith to practice and share the love that we have experienced in ways that have more impact that we will ever know.
    I feel blessed that God put action on my heart and has inspired me to search for where I can help others.

  17. Karyl Boring says:

    Many years ago, this amazing story of God’s call on April’s life challenged my husband and me. Through the work of The Boaz Project, we were given the opportunity and blessing of being a part of helping fulfill God’s call to care for the orphan. I never tire of hearing the story of The Boaz Project beginnings!

  18. Ryan Denton says:

    I’m very thankful that God brings so much encouragement from others’ stories of taking simple acts of faith that he can multiply into the seemingly impossible! Thanks April and Jim!

  19. Garden Gal says:

    What an amazing origin story this is! It again reminds me that God is in control and will work out everything for the good of those who love Him.

  20. Chloe kraus says:

    The want and passion God has given the Boaz project to help these children have a joyful life is extremely inspiring.

  21. Sarah Coin says:

    This story brings me to tears every time I hear or read it! Praise God for the work you do, April!

  22. Ashley Jae says:

    A blessing from being obedient. May we each discern what is the will of God and be obedient so there are many streams of blessings and overflow for generations.

  23. Zandie Brailowsky says:

    I have watched the Heart of Boaz @ times and every time I am amazed at how God works!. Through your obedience April, I’m finally able to act on my purpose. I praise God and thank Him for your heart.
    I would like to encourage those who haven’t watched the Heart of Boaz to do so, It will really open your eyes to what we miss and how much we take for granted everyday.

  24. Jenny Harley says:

    Thank you for the story. God has clearly reached down to show you how to give care for those He loves. Though the Orphan crisis is so large, there is a place where everyone can make a real difference.

  25. Lori Huertas says:

    In the Bible Boaz teaches us how to show respect to everyone, putting the need of others above their own, offering to help others in need, taking responsibility for one’s actions, being honest in all things, and being humble at all times. This beautiful orphan project does the same.

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Read more from our blog.

Because God knew that abandoned children would need help to survive, He tells us to actively meet the needs of orphans in James 1:27.

If you also feel the weight of this responsibility and the desire to make a real difference, consider partnering with us. Through our innovative in-home care model, specialized caregiver training, and humanitarian aid, you’ll help children not just survive—but truly thrive.

When you choose to partner with The Boaz Project, you'll restore hope, ensure a brighter future through education, and share the love of Jesus with children who desperately need it.

Just imagine the impact you can have—from saving a child from the horrors of the streets to helping them become community leaders, educators, and nurturers of the next generation.

Join the James 1:27 Circle Membership


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What does an orphan mission trip include?

  • Hotel accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Application support and fees for your Visa
  • In-country language assistance
  • All meals in-country
  • Ministry curriculum and supplies
  • Cross-cultural training and preparation
  • Trip insurance
  • International medical insurance
  • Fundraising assistance

Apply for a mission trip.

Orphan Advocate Training Certification Levels

Level 1

Learn about the mission and vision of The Boaz Project through activities such as watching an Encounter webinar, exploring our website, and following us on social media. You will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with your Orphan Advocate Training Coach, who will help you as you go through the levels.

Level 2

Gain more insight into the realities of the orphan crisis through reading "The Orphan’s Abba" and visiting The Boaz Project YouTube page. You will also meet The Boaz Project staff.

Level 3

Grow in your understanding of the orphan crisis, meet some houseparents by reading their stories, and create your own "Pick 2" with options like watching a movie and completing a creative project utilizing your unique skill set.

Level 4

Enhance your knowledge of healthy attachments for orphans, watch a webinar about Eastern Europe’s institutional orphanage system, and visit the Boaz office virtually or in person.

Level 5

Utilize all of the knowledge you have gained throughout training to develop methods based on your personal experience to share the mission and vision of The Boaz Project with others. Read a portion of our first level Houseparent Trauma Training and use your unique skills to impact orphans with a special project. Completing Level 5 gives you the option to apply to become an OAT Coach and/or a Regional Coordinator for The Boaz Project.


Do I have to live near Greenwood, Indiana to complete the training?

No! This certification is intentionally created to allow opportunities for anyone in any location to fully participate.

How much of a time commitment is it?

This is completely up to you. The entire process is self-directed. There are no deadlines, and you may take as much or as little time as you need to complete each course.

Can I do this training with my spouse? Or a friend?

Yes! Going through the training with a spouse or friend can provide accountability and motivation. As you progress, you may be able to accomplish more together!

How much will it cost?

All Orphan Advocate Training courses are free to join! While you may choose to spend money while completing some projects, there are only minimal costs involved (such as a book or a few supplies) depending on which course you choose to do.

Is there an age requirement to become a Certified Orphan Advocate Trainee?

This would be answered on a case-by-case basis. This would also be open to middle schoolers or high schoolers looking to complete volunteer hours (i.e. National Honor Society) or build college applications. We always encourage young people to be involved if they feel led by God to do so!

What if I don’t have any social media accounts?

We will adjust your requirements to accommodate you and provide different opportunities to engage.

If I complete the five-level Orphan Advocate Training Certification, can I put it on my resume or LinkedIn profile?

Yes! When you complete each level, you will receive a certification that you can use to enhance your professional profile and to show involvement in community service.

Will I be able to get a signed letter to verify my volunteer hours?

We are sorry that we cannot verify volunteer hours that are done outside of the office or an event due to the fact that these hours are not supervised. However, we can write about the quality of work that was done, your commitment level, and the training courses achieved. We can also say that your self-reported, unsupervised hours fit into the typical number of hours that are usual for that course.

How do I get started?

If you think you would like to begin Orphan Advocate Training, please complete the form below, and you’ll be assigned an OAT Coach. Once your coach reviews your information, he/she will send you an email with your next steps!

Who do I contact if I have any other questions?

Please complete the form below or contact OAT@boazproject.org with any questions.

Corporate Sponsorship Levels

Company logo in all event programs
Company thanked by name at start of each event
Shared table provided for your promotional items at events  
Company name and logo displayed on the office sponsorship wall  
Published interview article in The Boaz Project newsletter  
Social media (Instagram/Facebook) promotions during the year  
Event day materials read "The Boaz Project's (event name) sponsored by (your company name)" for one year  
Private table provided for your promotional items at events with table tents  
Exclusive company mentions in promotional event emails  

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