Every Child

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Posted 8/26/14 at 12:17 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Ukrainian Civil War Creates Urgent Need

Map: World Factbook

Last week, I received an urgent email from our partner, Bethany Social Services Ukraine. As you know, Ukraine is locked in a vicious struggle that has claimed the lives of 2,500 people in the last three months.[1] The heaviest fighting rages in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, creating IDPs, or internally displaced persons. According to the United Nations, as of August 5, 117,000 people have fled their homes, seeking refuge in safer parts of the nation.[2]

Bethany Christian Services first entered Ukraine in the early 1990s after the breakup of the Soviet Union. With the fall of communism came an invitation for faith-based organizations such as ours to find adoptive homes for children ranging from infants to teenagers stockpiled in orphanages. I visited those orphanages, and the conditions were heartbreaking.

Over the years, we added family preservation services that worked alongside of our adoption program—providing various forms of assistance aimed at keeping families together and children out of orphanages. I’ll never forget visiting the home of a single mother we had been working with there. She had some mental health struggles, but with good counseling and the financial help from our family sponsorship program, this mother of three had turned the corner and the family was stable. FULL POST

Posted 8/21/14 at 8:44 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Refilling an Empty Nest with Refugees

Recently, there has been much discussion about the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America to the United States. The majority of these children have fled their home country to avoid being the victims of organized crime violence, including human trafficking—risking their lives and traveling hundreds or thousands of miles in deplorable and unsafe conditions. At Bethany Christian Services, our mission is to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children through quality social services. As the discourse on unaccompanied minors continues, we’re planning to share stories in this space about the struggles these children face and the impact opening our hearts and homes to them can have on their lives. I’m sure you will be touched by these stories and will see the critical need for supporting these vulnerable children.

Brothers Sen Pu and Joseph were living with their parents in Myanmar when soldiers forced them into the notoriously corrupt and repressive army. As they were being marched off to a training camp, the brothers escaped and were smuggled into Malaysia, where they registered as refugees. FULL POST

Posted 8/19/14 at 5:04 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Limited Funds a Blessing?

Photo: Flickr/rawdonfox - Creative Commons
Piggy bank

Guest post by Marjie Dood, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Administration for Bethany Christian Services

When I left the world of corporate banking to join the leadership team of Bethany Christian Services, it wasn’t long before reality sunk in: banks have a lot more money than ministries. Initially, I fell into the trap that plagues a lot of nonprofits. “If only we had more money.” Where I once thought nothing of approving a multi-million-dollar expense, I now found myself questioning the purchase of a copy machine. And to be honest, managing tight budgets could be discouraging.

Then God reminded me of His Word.

In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul helped me understand that when we place our trust in God, we can be content regardless of our financial circumstances. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:12 NIV). FULL POST

Posted 8/15/14 at 11:58 AM | Bill Blacquiere

6 Things You Should Know about Refugees

number six
Photo: Flickr/Steve Snodgrass - Creative Commons

For nearly 70 years, Bethany has been reaching out to children in need across five continents and with more than 115 offices throughout the United States. Among the many services Bethany provides is support for refugee children and families who have fled their country to avoid being among the millions of victims of ethnic genocide, forced participation in civil unrest, persecution because of political and faith beliefs, and human trafficking worldwide.1

Following are six things you should know about refugees:

  • In 2012 there were over 15 million refugees worldwide, and approximately 58,000 of these refugees arrived in the United States, including many trafficked children.
  • Of the 58,000 refugees that arrived in the U.S in 2012, approximately 40% were under the age of 18.
  • 24,000 unaccompanied minors from around the world entered the United States asking for protection having been separated from their families abroad as they fled violence or disaster.
  • Newcomers require help to find housing and employment, learn English, access community resources, and more.
  • Children are especially vulnerable to trafficking and other dangers, and they require help to become part of a family, resume their education, and adjust to a new life.
  • Bethany helped more than 3,500 refugee children in 2012, helping them to start building a new life in the United States through Refugee Resettlement, Refugee and Transitional Foster Care, the Transitional Living Center, the Refugee Center for Healing Torture Trauma, Family Reunification and Strengthening Services, and Refugee Employment Services.

To learn more about Bethany’s refugee resettlement efforts and how you can help these families in crisis, visit www.Bethany.org/grandrapids/refugee-services. FULL POST

Posted 8/14/14 at 1:57 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Escape from War-Joseph's Journey

Recently, there has been much discussion about the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America to The United States. The majority of these children have fled their home country to avoid being the victims of organized crime violence, including human trafficking—risking their lives and traveling hundreds or thousands of miles in deplorable and unsafe conditions. At Bethany Christian Services, our mission is to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children through quality social services. As the discourse on unaccompanied minors continues, we’re planning to share stories in this space about the struggles these children face and the impact opening our hearts and homes to them can have on their lives. I’m sure that you will be touched by these stories and will see the critical need for supporting these vulnerable children.

On the run, fleeing a war that destroyed his home and killed his entire family, Joseph* was one of thousands caught in the middle of the civil war in the African nation of Congo. Only fifteen years old and entirely on his own, he escaped to neighboring Kenya, eventually landing in a U.N. refugee camp where he faced new enemies: malnutrition, disease, and the staggering reality that you could be “warehoused” there for years. FULL POST

Posted 8/12/14 at 3:16 PM | Bill Blacquiere |

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Have Christian Ministries Become Slaves to Money?

What would you do if you felt God was calling you to be a monk? When Dr. Gary Hoag got that message after twenty years in various Christian leadership roles, he laughed. When he told his wife, Jenni, she laughed too. So did his kids. But the message was clear—Gary felt God calling him to be the “generosity monk.”

Today, Gary helps pastors and ministry leaders understand the biblical concept of generosity through his organization, Generosity Monk. As the leader of a faith-based organization, Bethany Christian Services, I understand the challenges of fundraising and truly appreciate the generosity of our donors. According to Gary, though, too many ministries like ours focus on gifts rather than givers. FULL POST

Posted 8/7/14 at 11:10 AM | Bill Blacquiere

Meet Luis—Never a Number, but One of Many

Recently, there has been much discussion about the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America to The United States. The majority of these children have fled their home country to avoid being the victims of organized crime violence, including human trafficking—risking their lives and traveling hundreds or thousands of miles in deplorable and unsafe conditions. At Bethany Christian Services, our mission is to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children through quality social services. As the discourse on unaccompanied minors continues, we’re planning to share stories in this space about the struggles these children face and the impact opening our hearts and homes to them can have on their lives. I’m sure that you will be touched by these stories and will see the critical need for supporting these vulnerable children.

Luis’s mother, a child herself at only 12 years old, placed her twin infant sons down a dried-up well before escaping Honduras for California. They would never see her again.

The boys were rescued and went to live with their aging grandmother, who they lived with happily until she could no longer properly care for them. They were separated around the age of 8 and passed around among their grandmother’s 25 children—no one willing to care for them both so they could stay together. FULL POST

Posted 8/5/14 at 5:55 PM | Bill Blacquiere

A Tour: In and Around China

HENAN PROVINCE

In Henan, Bethany Global Services has been providing family-based foster care to children since 2008 or just prior. With their recent visit in June, Tendai and Kristi were again impressed with the high level of care that is being given to kids in foster care. The orphanage has completely taken over the responsibilities of recruiting foster care parents, training the foster care parents, placing children in family-based care and conducting follow up monitoring visits. The orphanages remain in close contact with Xu Bing, our local Bethany employee. The children in these orphanages are kids who would most likely not be adopted domestically or internationally. They are often unhealthy, pale, and unable to sit on their own. We are seeing that after months of being in these stable and loving homes, they are thriving, they are growing and becoming healthy and sitting up and even walking. These kids are placed into family based care because they are not likely to be adopted. After seeing the improvements the children have made after being in foster care for several months – we’ve recognized an unintended benefit of foster care is that it allows a chance for these children to become adopted internationally. The orphanages sometimes see the progress the children have made and send their papers to Beijing so that adoption can become an option for them. FULL POST

Posted 7/30/14 at 2:20 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Ryan Dobson: Growing Up as a Kid of a Parenting Icon and Building a Family Legacy

Best known by Focus on the Family and now Family Talk with Dr. Dobson, Dr. James Dobson has written 82 books, produced three film series, and hosted more than 8,000 radio broadcasts heard daily by more than 220 million people in 164 countries.[1] In the 1990s he was ranked as one of the leading voices for conservative social values in America.[2] And Time magazine called him “the nation’s most influential evangelical leader.”[3] Dr. Dobson could very well be the most prolific and trusted expert on parenting today.

With all the media attention and enormous visibility of this parenting icon, imagine what it would have been like to have grown up as a teenager in Dr. Dobson’s home. FULL POST

Posted 7/25/14 at 10:35 AM | Bill Blacquiere |

1 comment

From Discouragement to Joy

Bethany Christian Services

Guest post by Kristi Gleason, International Services Manager for Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia—Bethany Global Services

Have you ever wondered what happens after the headlines? After the cameras and news anchors leave the scene of tragedy in a developing country? They were all there in Haiti in 2010 when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the already struggling city of Port-au-Prince, but today they are gone. Bethany Christian Services also was there before and during the quake, and since the disaster we have launched even more intensive campaigns to protect Haiti’s vulnerable children by keeping them in families.

Suffering does not end with the news cycle.

It’s been four years since the tragedy which drove thousands of people from their demolished homes into tents provided by emergency aid groups. Although news stories have reported that the tent cities are gone, they have simply been moved farther from the capital city, away from the public eye. Have you ever camped out in a tent in 100 degree weather? On days when there is no money for school, mothers keep their children inside the oven-like tents to protect them from the gangs, violence, and rape which is rampant there. FULL POST

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