July 1, 2019

What Wikipedia Won’t Tell You about Orphans

Let me start by saying that I’m not anti-Wikipedia. While I recognize it’s become the brunt of a few jokes and probably shouldn’t be relied upon as the most authoritative voice on all topics, it has its place. For example, when you’re in a hurry and just want a quick overview of a subject, Wikipedia’s not a bad option.

The other day, I decided I’d look up “orphans” in Wikipedia, just to see what it had to say. It defines an orphan as “someone whose parents have died, are unknown, or have permanently abandoned them.” It follows that up with the U.S. legal definition, “a minor bereft through death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents”.

Next is a list of statistics from nations with large orphan populations and then the article continues, naming some “notable” orphans, (from U.S. President Andrew Jackson to Moses, the Biblical character) from history, literature, and religious texts.

For the most part, I was familiar with the information, and it all seemed accurate. Still, it left me disappointed. This would be one of those times when maybe Wikipedia isn’t the best source, when scratching the surface won’t cut it, when statistical data is insufficient.

It felt like someone asking a friend of mine, Who’s April Jurgensen?” and her replying, “A married, Caucasian female who just entered her (gasp!) 50’s.”

The statement is true, but almost offensive in all that it lacks. I hope a friend would mention my love for Jesus, my family, and orphans. Maybe they’d describe me as stubborn, wordy, or addicted to coffee. They may tell someone where I live, that I love my alma mater (Taylor University), or that I come from a long line of ardent Buckeye fans. These more intimate specifics make for a much more fitting description.

I know it’s hard to make such detailed descriptions of a group of people as opposed to an individual, but there are some common characteristics I think could be included in a description of orphans. Here are three:

  • An orphan is familiar with trauma.

While the circumstances which leave a child orphaned vary, a child growing up without his biological parents has known tremendous loss and grief. Even if he never met those parents and/or has been welcomed into a loving home, he has lost something critical in being denied the opportunity to be raised in his family of origin. Death, neglect, and abandonment are an unwelcome trio who robbed the child from the life that should have been.

This reality affects all orphans to some degree. Many have an ongoing fear of abandonment in future relationships. Some—depending upon their experiences—suffer from PTSD. Most can be described as “survivors” who learned to fend for themselves emotionally and potentially physically.

  • Each orphan wants you to know her unique gifts and personality.

Just as I’d resent being described solely as a Caucasian female, most orphans don’t want the “orphan” title to be their identity.

Many orphans want to hide their difficult backgrounds, resenting the “pity” that may result or just trying to avoid a depressing topic that seems to follow them.

As a result, they often struggle to prove they have other roles to play, interests, or abilities. Whether it is a passion for nail art, a love for music, a knack for dance, or even an identity as a trouble maker or bully, they’ll gladly accept any title that offers some personality or distinction over the one that simply defines their circumstances.

  • An orphan is precious to God.

I know, I know. We’re all created in God’s image and precious in His sight. I don’t mean to deny this truth or take it for granted. But I believe a thorough examination of Scripture will support the theory that orphans have a special place in God’s heart.

For example, God commands His people to care for orphans (Ps. 82:3) and warns against taking advantage of them (Ex. 22:22, Deut. 24:17). He is described as The Father of the fatherless (Ps. 68: 5 and 6). He defends the orphan (Deut. 10:18) and ordained laws to make provisions for orphans (Deut. 14:29, 24:19-21, 26:12-13, Ps. 146:9). He even describes caring for orphans as “pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27).

The above list is not exhaustive, but I think it builds a sufficient case for the fact that orphans are beloved by God and should be by us, as well.

Maybe Wikipedia’s definition for “orphans” should be expanded. I hope mine will as I continue to pray for, visit, and love them.

This month, as you pray for The Boaz Project, please remember to:

-Thank God for a great team that visited India last month, holding a VBS and loving on orphans and their caregivers. Express gratitude for the safety and unity of the team, as well as His favor as they went in and out of immigration.

-Ask God for the necessary funding for the building project in Kenya, offering family-style apartments to orphans and their caregivers.

-Request new contacts for the ministry who will enable us to reach even more children with Christ’s love and provision.

-Lift David Mercier, our Director of Russia Ministries, as he travels at the end of this month to Russia to do administrative work, encourage our personnel, and recruit more Christians to serve in orphanages or as foster parents.

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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?

  • 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

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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.


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  
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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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