We are embroiled in a crisis surrounding millions of orphaned and at-risk children. Families are being torn apart daily through a wide variety of tragic events, including, among other things, accidental deaths, natural disasters, wars, terrorism, gang violence, drugs, poverty, and sex-trafficking. While there are programs in place to help these children in their distress, the vast majority of them simply provide for the children’s physical needs (food, clothing and shelter) and do not lead to lives fully restored in the absence of biological families. For these children to thrive, they need to experience the full measure of God’s love – they need to be cared for with excellence.
Given these realities, what does gospel-driven excellence look like when we care for orphaned and at-risk children? In 2014, through the book project, In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence, Providence World framed a conversation around this critical question through a collaborative effort involving fifteen authors from orphan care organizations around the world. Using the La Providencia incubator model Providence started in Honduras, and other successful models in other parts of the world, In Pursuit established a framework to inspire and equip others to understand what excellent, best-practice orphan care looks like in situations where kinship care, legal adoption, quality foster care, or reunification with biological family is not possible, feasible, or likely to occur.
As we launched the book and began having deeper, global conversations about what excellence looks like in caring for orphaned and vulnerable children, it brought to the table an oft-neglected component of orphan care – the preventive measures such as poverty alleviation, community development, family strengthening, and discipleship. Since then, we grew La Providencia using these principles of excellence and have expanded the global conversation to better understand the full context of the global orphan crisis.
One initiative we have used to expand and enhance the global conversation surrounding excellence in the care of orphaned and vulnerable children is the Think Orphan Podcast, which launched in May 2016. The podcast, hosted by our President, Phil Darke, and Rick Morton of Lifeline Children’s Services, brings in leading voices from around the world to navigate the full-spectrum of difficult issues that affect millions of children and families, from poverty alleviation and family strengthening to best practices in caring for orphaned and abandoned children to anti-trafficking work and mentoring. We are also working on another collaborative book to cover the interconnectedness of these issues and how we can work together to engage them more effectively. These initiatives are not meant to work in a vacuum. To effectively reduce the number of orphaned and vulnerable children worldwide and provide the children with the necessary care, we need a network of churches and organizations committed to work together with the best practices discussed in our books and podcast.
To do this, Providence World has set out on a mission of inspiring and equipping others to love orphaned and at-risk children and their families with excellence. Knowing that excellence does not result from occasional and unstructured activities, but rather through repeated and disciplined thoughts and actions, it is essential for organizations that truly desire to make a difference to be committed to growing their processes from good, to better, to best. That is why we have committed our efforts to equip global organizations working with orphaned and vulnerable children in their organizational development and health, leadership, and collaborative best practices.