March 3, 2017

God has a plan for reaching orphans

As my vehicle pulled up to the facility, I noticed the Soviet structure sagged from wear and almost boasted of its distinct odor. I braced myself for what I may see on this first visit to this orphanage for school-aged children.

Once inside, I was escorted by a stiff guard to the director’s office. Sternly, the director glanced at me above her reading glasses, but didn’t speak.

“Hello,” I said timidly.

The woman glanced at my interpreter and friend, Svetlana, as if she should have prevented this foreigner from distracting her from the papers on her desk, and sighed.

“May I speak with you for just a moment?” I asked sheepishly.

Without waiting for interpretation, the director waved her hand, motioning for us to sit down at the table before her. The gesture was at once both an invitation to enter and a brush off.

I had barely begun explaining that I came bearing gifts from friends in America when another suited woman peeked around the corner and interrupted me. I understood that someone was here and coming to the office.

With another sigh, the director pulled the glasses from her head and nodded that entrance had been granted.

Two children, identical in appearance, turned the corner. I could not determine their gender, but guessed them to be around seven years of age. They wore coats which looked warm, but worn.

“Your names,” demanded the director.

The children stared, frozen in fear.

“Your names!” she repeated more loudly.

The children blinked, but did not even cast glances at one another.

“You must give me your names!” the director yelled as she rose from her desk.

One poor child swallowed hard before replying, “Ola.”

Girls, I deduced. I wondered if they had come from home or another orphanage. I imagined how they must be feeling either way. I blinked back the water swelling in my eyes.

“Ah, Ola, and…” the militant director waited for the second to answer. But the girl, gripped by fear, remained silent.

As Ola opened her mouth to answer for her twin, she was cut off, “Your sister must learn to speak for herself. Does she not understand Russian? I have asked for your names. If you don’t learn to speak for yourselves, you will not survive here. Now, young lady, I am asking for the last time, what is your name?”

The stunned child remained stoic faced as a tear trickled down her right cheek, “Nastya,” she answered at last.

I realized the director, not knowing I had lived in Russia for two years, likely had assumed I didn’t understand the conversation. But even if I hadn’t, her tone would have exposed her.

A few more details were discussed, the stout director waving her arms and raising her voice. I sat stunned, scheming how I could possibly escape and take the frightened girls with me. But the brutal reality broke through my imaginings. The twins were there to stay.

Throughout those early years, encounters like this one became commonplace as I navigated the hidden world of Russia’s orphans. Mistreatment was routine; abuse, familiar.

In one orphanage in Russia’s Far East, I saw teenage boys beaten and then stripped naked for a week because they had run away. I noticed children locked in isolation, fed through a tiny, barred window. I found evidence of girls as young as 11 being preyed upon from within and outside the orphanage.

In another, I heard a director referring to the children in her institution as “society’s refuse.” This was her defense for their maltreatment. Justification for her cruelty.

These barbarities were the things that happened in my presence. I shuddered to think of the horrors that took place in my absence.

The system had effectively gagged those who uncovered the truth. Speak up, and risk being denied entrance to the orphanages, perhaps to the country.

Confident that authorities would look the other way if confronted, I decided to stay silent so I could continue to visit the children…and even bring others with me. If we were kicked out, who would share the hope of Christ with them? Who would tell them they are precious, unique, beautiful? Who will tell them about their heavenly Father who adores them…so much so that He knows the number of hairs on their heads?

But in reality, I felt powerless against the formidable governing system.

Inside, I started to tussle with God. Doesn’t the Bible say He is the orphans’ defender? Then where was He?

While wrestling through these issues, I found in Is. 1:17 another command to care for the orphan, “learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

Much like a mother asking her son to clean his room, God needs little justification for asking us to care for orphans beyond, “Because I said so.” After all, He is God, and we are not.

I began to wonder, “What would it look like if we—all of us who are called by His name—were to take Him seriously in this? What if we all cared for an orphan? What if we adopted or supported those who do? What if we visited orphans? What if we gave generously? What if we defended their cause?

I imagine it would be a different world, one where orphans would not fret over their next meals or go without medical care. It would be a place where children would be able to trust that they were lovable and that they were loved. In this world where the church is obedient, the fatherless would be introduced to their heavenly Father.

That’s when I realized my frustrations and anger were misdirected. God had not left these children. We, His church, had.

God has a plan for reaching orphans, and it includes you and me. The question is: will we obey?

This month, as you pray for The Boaz Project and the orphans it serves, please ask God to raise up an obedient church that takes His command to care for orphans seriously. Pray, too, that the church would experience the joy and fulfillment that obedience yields.

Praise God that land has been purchased and resources have been provided to build a home for Agape Fellowship Home in Bangalore, India!

Let’s continue to pray for the El Shaddai Children’s Center in Limuru,  Kenya, that they would receive the land grant for a girls’ home.

Believing in miracles,

April

*This article is the ninth and final in a series covering each of The Boaz Project’s core values. This month’s core value is “God calls His children to care for orphans.”– James 1:27, Is. 1:17

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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.

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What does an orphan mission trip include?

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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.

FAQ

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.

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