William J. Blacquiere is President of Bethany Christian Services
Posted 3/6/14 at 4:25 PM | Bill Blacquiere
I think the “least of these” Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25 include the children I met last month in China. These are little ones who are abandoned and forgotten because they don’t fit the image of a perfect child and are considered “difficult to place” for adoption. We must do something to help them.
What makes these children “difficult to place” are mild-to-moderate conditions such as congenital heart defects, cleft palates, or delayed social, mental, or physical abilities—and sometimes a missing finger. These conditions can be mostly resolved through corrective surgery and consistent health care. Sometimes these issues resolve themselves as a child grows, even in an orphanage. But I believe healing by the power of a loving family is much more likely.
Under the Safe Harbor laws, China has established “cottages,” where parents can abandon their unwanted, “flawed” children. Labeled difficult to place, they live within government walls called “child welfare institutes”----what we know as orphanages. If a child is not matched with a loving and protective family, he is eventually pushed out to the streets, where he is vulnerable to a life of crime or being trafficked—or he is moved to an adult government facility. It is good news that protective environments have been developed for these unwanted children, but we simply cannot leave them institutionalized or abandoned. FULL POST
Posted 3/4/14 at 1:10 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Author Jason Dykstra is a diagnostic radiologist. In his spare time, he works with high school and college students, who have lots of questions about the Christian faith—questions like why does God allow people to suffer? Or why did God create the universe?
Those and many other questions about faith formed the foundation for his book, Healing Hereafter. Jason and his wife, Laura, have adopted two children and have committed a portion of the proceeds from his book to Bethany Christian Services.
I recently spoke with Jason about those tough questions as well as his experience with adoption. You can listen to his answers here. You can also visit Jason’s website for your two minutes of Healing Hereafter or to order this book for your personal collection.
Bill Blacquiere is president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, a leading global family preservation and child welfare agency.
Posted 2/27/14 at 1:00 PM | Bill Blacquiere |
“Throw Back Thursday” is one way we can reminisce together on a different era—fun photos in memory of something long ago may fill your social media newsfeeds weekly. Perhaps my own will be a photo of an “old-school typewriter.” Those of us who have been around for a while sometimes wistfully talk about “the good old days” of ministry. Seriously? If given the chance, I’m not sure I would really want to go back to typing my blog posts and letters to my staff on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Even though no one would accuse me of being a high-tech guy, I have seen firsthand how technology allows all of us in the non-profit world do a much better job of serving others.
The prudent use of technology helps non-profits become better stewards of the limited resources we often have and using it correctly, technology can shave time off many of the extensive and tedious tasks that are part of every non-profit.
Marjie Dood, Executive Vice President of Administration and CFO of Bethany Christian Services, estimates that one hour of work across the board at Bethany costs us about $25,000. So if we can use technology to save us four hours overall a year, that’s $100,000 that can be used elsewhere. FULL POST
Posted 2/25/14 at 3:54 PM | Bill Blacquiere
This guest post is contributed by Mallary Johnson, Assoc. Brand Manager of Bethany Christian Services.
Over the past weekend I spent time with some of the foremost thinkers on social justice at this year’s Justice Conference held in Los Angeles. Collectively, the conversations revolved around poverty, human trafficking, education reform, and the basic rights and needs of humans around the globe.
During these conversations, one theme stood out clearly: none of us can do this alone. With multiple NGOs and nonprofits in attendance, the need for collaboration if any of us wants to make a dent in relieving the world of such aforementioned injustices was apparent. I overheard one woman laugh as she was asked if, after being in Uganda and seeing the needs there, she began a nonprofit. “No”, she said, “the world doesn’t need more nonprofits; we need to do better with what we already have.”
Being at the conference and in these intense, yet exciting discussions, it seems we’ve all come to realize this. Our world does not need another nonprofit; it needs a collaborative group of organizations all working toward the same goal– basic human rights for all. FULL POST
Posted 2/20/14 at 11:07 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Today, Marjie Dood, Executive Vice President of Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Bethany Christian Services, a prominent leader in social services around the globe, guest blogs on the business of ministry.
My title says I’m the Executive Vice President of Administration and Chief Financial Officer, but as good as that might look on a business card, it also sounds sort of stuffy. While my co-workers at Bethany are counseling pregnant women, working with at-risk teenagers or training mothers around the globe how to start their own small business, I’m in my office designing spreadsheets and evaluating phone systems. What’s that got to do with building the Kingdom? More than you might think.
Best-selling author and pastor Furtick shared a story of Elisha that, despite my years of reading the Bible, was unfamiliar to me. When the kings of Edom, Judah and Israel came together to fight against Moab, they encountered a problem - they were out of water. Desperate for water for themselves and their livestock, the Kings turned to Elisha and asked him to call on the Lord. Elisha agreed. The word of the Lord came to Elisha: the armies of Edom, Judah and Israel should dig ditches. Elisha assured the kings that despite the lack of wind or rain, the valley where they were encamped would soon be filled with water. Obediently, the armies dug ditches all over the valley. The next morning, the water flowed. It filled the land and appeared like blood in the light of dawn. The King of Moab, mistaking the water as bloodshed, believed the three kingdoms had destroyed one another. Assuming victory, the King of Moab sent his army to the Israelite camp where they were defeated by the three kings and their armies. FULL POST
Posted 2/18/14 at 11:10 AM | Bill Blacquiere |
Would you believe that something as simple as a bag could give a child dignity? I wouldn’t have believed it either—only something called the Your Best Life case changed my mind.
Ivy Hall and Britney Vickery, founders and owners of Initials, Inc., a successful direct-sales company, are philanthropic. They established the Initials, Inc. iCare Foundation in 2012 and partnered with an overseas nonprofit giving aid to the disabled in Africa. But wanting to increase their impact and reach in the neighborhoods of their own homeland, they reached out to Bethany. Perhaps they could partner with us in giving foster care children an opportunity to live their best life. Less than three days after their initial contact with Bethany, Britney and Ivy met with Pete Knibbe, vice president of Donor Engagement and adoptive father, and committed to raise more than $100,000 for Bethany’s N.O.W. (No One Without) foster care adoption initiative through proceeds from one of their most in-demand products—the Your Best Life (YBL) case. FULL POST
Posted 2/13/14 at 11:05 AM | Bill Blacquiere |
We have a problem.
Today, there are over 400,000 children in foster care nationwide. These youths spend an average of two to three years of their lives in a foster home. Foster care was originally designed to be a temporary solution to a temporary problem, but unfortunately that has not been the case for thousands of children who remain in the foster care system for many years without a family of their own.
National statistics show that a child’s placement in a foster home occurs at the same rate among minority children as it does for white children. Yet a disproportionate number of minority children linger in foster care. You see, children of color represent 42 percent of the U.S. child population but make up 57 percent of all the youth in foster care.1 Specifically, African-American children represent 15.1 percent of the U.S. child population, yet make up 33.9 percent of the youth in foster care.2
There is a solution.
We can step beyond caring about the orphan crisis and moving toward caring for orphans. This is, after all, the biblical mandate given to us in James 1:27, which tells us to look after the orphan. FULL POST
Posted 2/11/14 at 12:16 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Ryan Struyk could easily be the poster boy for Christian education. The son of an evangelical pastor, he attended Christian schools through high school before entering Calvin College, a prominent Christian and liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While at Calvin, he served as a worship leader, participated in student government, and currently is the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. This spring he will serve an internship with ABC News in Washington, D.C., and hopes to begin a career in journalism after he graduates.
Ryan is also gay.
For Christians of my generation, sexual identity is a topic that we have either ignored or only whispered about. Today, we can do neither for the LGBT community includes those closest to us—in many cases our children, other family members, or the person we sit next to in church. I believe all Christians are called to demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ in everything we do. How do we do that when it comes to sexual orientation? I hope our conversation here will help you as you wrestle with that difficult question.
Bill Blacquiere is president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, a prominent leader in social services around the globe.
Posted 2/10/14 at 9:51 AM | Bill Blacquiere |
Over the past two weeks, we’ve covered the topic of human trafficking several times on this blog. In addition, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a number of radio interviews across the country leading up to the Super Bowl, when activities of human trafficking typically rise in the area hosting the event. The sole purpose of these blog posts and radio interviews was to raise awareness for the millions of victims so that we could work together to end human trafficking.
Now, I’m not sure that putting an end to human trafficking is a realistic objective. I am sure, however, that it is a compassionate objective and one that we as Christians should all strive toward. So while I was happy to hear reports that a group of teenage girls forced into prostitution was rescued by the FBI during Super Bowl festivities, thus reinforcing the need for awareness efforts and calls to action to end trafficking, I’m saddened that more weren’t saved.1
With millions of men, women, and children reported to be the victims of human trafficking each year, let’s not push this topic aside until the next Super Bowl.2 Rather, let’s continue the conversation that has already begun and work in unison to aid these victims in escaping their desperate situations. In the case of children being victimized, let’s increase our commitment to reuniting them with their biological families, where appropriate, or placing them with loving couples who are willing to serve as foster or adoptive families. FULL POST
Posted 2/7/14 at 12:18 PM | Bill Blacquiere
NARAL Pro Choice America is the nation’s leading advocate of legal abortions and takes political action on restrictions on abortion and women’s rights. The organization I lead, Bethany Christian Services, believes those facing an unplanned pregnancy should be aware of all their options before making any decision. We still have a long way to go in educating expectant women and couples and providing these expectant parents the support and counsel they need.
So why should both of us be celebrating today? Because the most recent statistics about the number of abortions performed annually in America shows a decline. In fact, the rate of abortion is at its lowest since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade became law. Fewer women are choosing to end their pregnancies with an abortion, and that’s great news to me. It should be great news for NARAL Pro Choice America too. FULL POST