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The Opportunity
More Than a Blanket and a Bucket OrphanSave is unique when compared to other programs?

We've all seen the heart-wrenching infomercials on late-night television promoting the large child sponsorship organizations. They feature video footage of children in crisis and seemingly sincere appeals. But a closer examination reveals some troubling facts. How is a compassionate believer to weigh the benefits and practices of such organizations, especially considering the mandate that we all share from the Lord to reach out to the least among us.

To what extent is the program Christian? The late-night infomercial organizations have gigantic budgets that range between 80-800 million dollars per year. One of these mega-corporations recently decided to drop the word Christian from it's title because the program had not involved any Christian aspect in more than 30 years. The actual program was indistinguishable from secular or humanistic programs which meet the physical needs of the body but fail to build spiritual hearts or communities. How many thousands of Christian families are supporting the work of this organization under the assumption that it builds God's Kingdom in a hurting world only to learn now after 30 years and millions of dollars of advertising that the program is a secular program without a Christian message. The reconciling message of the Christian Gospel transforms cultures in dramatic and sustainable ways. There are countless examples of this across the globe but one recent article captured the essence of Christian missions. Matthew Parris, columnist and prominent atheist concedes what whe have known all along. In his article dated December 27, 2008 entitled As an Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God 1 Parris admits that chaos, war, famine, corruption and superstition has infected Africa for centuries and despite the diverse attempts of secular governments and NGO's it is only the work of missionaries that has demonstrated any sustainable change in Africa. Only the power of Christ and His message can reach the lost and transform cultures for good. We must spread the Good News of the Gospel for who will send His message if not His people? There are billions of dollars in governmental and corporate support available for secular programs but only the Church can build God's Kingdom. In recent years many corporate grant sources have chosen to exclude any faith-based organization from consideration. Who will reach out in His Name if not His people?

Is the program effective? The infomercial organizations need a constant supply of thousands of child sponsors to maintain their gigantic budgets, but how do the programs offered by these organizations actually bring about sustainable transformation in the homes and communities where they work. Some of the work is helpful, to be sure, like building small schools or fresh water wells. At Orphan Save we believe the local church is the center of God's plan to reach planet earth. We believe that a vibrant, growing church, led by a well-trained local pastor, is the best way to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of a community. OrphanSave develops orphanages to provide loving homes for abandoned and orphaned children. Wherever possible these orphanage facilities also serve as a church on Sundays. In this way the children are mentored, taught, and brought up in a Christian community. They are closely acquainted with worship and service since the church meets in the common room of the orphanage. What a beautiful paradigm, that the house built as a refuge for abandoned children—often being maintained (in part) by the children themselves—is the beacon of Light for the entire community. The orphanage church model is especially effective in countries like Cambodia where the entire Christian population comprises less than 2%. Such cultures are lost to the Gospel and the name of Jesus is not known, but hundreds are coming to Him weekly through the church services offered within the walls of Christ centered orphanages.
      
Will my donations be used efficiently to bring the most benefit to the child I am sponsoring. Where information is available it is distressing to learn that many of the large, television-based organizations who specialize in Child sponsorship spend most of their budgets on fund raising and offer a marginal benefit to the children being sponsored. One such organization which is built on infomercials hosted by the founder and/or his wife admits in their reporting documents to spending about 70 cents of every dollar that comes into the organization on fund raising. Imagine if the compassionate sponsors knew that of their $30 monthly gift, all but $9 would be spent on TV ads.

An expose aired on national television of some of the largest child sponsorship agencies found that the children sometimes received little benefit from years of sponsorship. One case noted that a family in Brazil with three children having been sponsored for some years by an American agency (a name you would easily recognize from the TV ads) received only 2 blankets and a bucket from the sponsoring organization.

At OrphanSave the percentage of sponsorship funds spent on fund raising is 0%. The money given prayerful, with love, for the sponsorship of an orphaned child are used to fund the orphanages which provide every single thing that the child needs to grow, learn, and prosper. All of our children are abandoned or orphaned and generally without families to assist them or provide for them. The staff and children of each orphanage are a family. What is provided through sponsorship? Here is only a partial list:

Food (3 meals each day)
Clothing School Uniforms
Shoes
Toiletries
Text Books
School Supplies
Birthday Gifts
Christmas Celebration and Gifts
Bed and Bedding a Clean, Safe Home
Love and Guidance from Staff a Christian Upbringing
Career / College Placement

The challenge before our generation—to rescue the abandoned and orphaned children of our world in the name of Jesus Christ—is by no means a burden; it is a beautiful opportunity.

1 Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article5400568.ece

The Opportunity
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