26 Practical Ways To Get Involved In Orphan Ministry
1. Become a foster parent. Contact your local state office or a private agency. The requirements for licensing include training, first aide/CPR, fingerprints, and a home study. Often times, we hear horror stories about how long or how difficult the process is to become licensed, but in reality it is very doable and chances are, you will have kids in your home much quicker than many might expect.
2. Host a child from another country. Hosting consists of taking in an “orphan” from another country to live with you. The duration is usually for a few weeks in summer or at Christmas. There is a fee; but often these children are afterwards available for adoption. It’s a great way to expose your family to other cultures, to ‘test out the water’, and to open the eyes of your family’s heart to the huge need for adoptive homes worldwide. Children usually range from age 5 and up. There are many hosting organization, but one of the largest in the states is New Horizons for Children. http://www.newhorizonsforchildren.org/
3. Sponsor a child through ministries such as “Compassion International” (http://www.compassion.com/) or “Food for the Hungry” (https://fh.org/). These are two of our personal favorites. Compassion is one of the largest child sponsorship programs, and Food for the Hungry has a very unique holistic approach, focusing on the whole community. There are also opportunities to go visit your sponsored child. It is an incredible opportunity! What we personally learned was that our letters really matter! Have a sponsored child? Write them today!
4. Emotionally support foster/adoptive families. The turnover for foster parents is high because often times they can be isolated and overwhelmed due to the heightened needs of children. You might be surprised at how something as simple as listening can empower a family to press on in their work.
Stop them at church on Sunday. call, text, or invite them to lunch with the intent of simply asking questions and actively listening.
5. Start a support group for adoptive/foster families in your church or community. Again, foster/adoptive parents can feel isolated and disconnected. State support groups are good, but can also have a broad range of people that Christian foster/adopt parents can struggle connecting with. Contact your pastor or a leader in your church about having a support group, luncheon, or any kind of event that might get local foster/adopt parents connected.
6. Volunteer your expendable resources. Do you have a beach house, a second home, or a cabin in the mountains? How about lending it (free of charge) to a foster/adoptive family in need for some much needed time away. This might be just the thing couples have been craving, or an added blessing used as a family getaway. Have a timeshare or air-miles about to be wasted? Considering offers those as well. You better believe it, the foster/adoptive parents won’t be able to stop thanking you!
7. Partner financially with organizations that support foster care/adoption. Maybe your time or energy is limited. How about financially supporting reputable organizations that help to fund adoptions, or support foster children? Stephen Curtis Chapman’s Show Hope is one of our favorites. http://showhope.org/
8. Give practical, usable resources to your state, private foster agencies, or to your local pregnancy resource center. Items such as diapers, clothing, pajamas, backpacks, warm jackets, and shoes are always needed. You can also “surprise” a local foster/adoptive parent you know with an encouraging note and gift or gas card.
9. Initiate fundraisers for families adopting. If you are a leader-type, this one is for you! Local walk-a-thons, 5k’s, bake sales, online garage sales, or car washes always do really well in helping to raise funds for those who are adopting. Adoptions can range from thousands to tens of thousands. I guarantee, if you know of someone adopting, they would be humbled and grateful for you “rallying the troops” to help them raise support.
10. Adopt domestically or internationally – There are millions of children around the world without a family. Would you pray about inquiring, through a state or private agency, about adoption? One of the biggest private agencies is Bethany Christian Services. http://www.bethany.org/
11. Volunteer as a Big Sister/Big Brother. We often don’t think about kids without a parent as “orphans” but sometimes kids (especially inner city kids) can be deprived from the love and attention they need if one parent is gone and the other is working two jobs just to care for the needs of the household. Do you know a single parent household, a child near you who is alone most of the time, or a foster child at your kids’ school who simply needs an adult to mentor them. Would you consider volunteering a few hours of your time; mentoring, hanging out with them, or tutoring a child through programs just as, The Boys and Girls Club, or the Big Brother program? Would you considering opening the doors to your home, to love, feed, and possible care for those within your community who lack the support, love, and resources we might take for granted?
12. Use your profession to bless others. Are you a hairdresser, a doctor, a professional cook, or a physical therapist? Whatever your profession, I guarantee, there is some way you can use it to bless foster children in your community! Would you considering giving discounts? Offering free haircuts to foster children when school comes around? Can you paint nails? As a therapist, instruct a foster parent with special needs in how to care for their children more effectively? Do you have horses? Would you consider getting certified to do “horse therapy”? If you a swim coach, would you consider doing free or discounted “swim therapy” with children with disabilities? Get creative, the list is inexhaustible, when we really think about all the practical ways to use our talents and gifts to help others…
13. Start a local “Sports Night” at an open field in your area. As you grab some balls and a bat, or just a ball to initiate a kickball match at an empty field by where you live, you might be surprise at how many “orphan” kids come out of the woodwork. Often neglected kids are all around, but we just don’t see them. Some “fun” or an activity really can bring great reprieve, drawing these children to truth, and open up to others.
14. Start a collection box at your school, church, or work. Often times people want to give, but don’t know where or how. Sometimes something as simple as a square wood box at the door of your office building, church, or school entitled, “Collection for backpack, pj’s, coats etc. for foster kids” can not only bless others, but provide joy to those who want to give.
15. Start a giving tree. Christmas time is also another great time for giving. Consider placing a giving tree at church, work, or school. People choose a specific child, buy a gift, and place it unwrapped under the tree. The giver can even add a note of encouragement. This makes giving to a child very real, “up-close”, and personal.
16. Consider spending a few weeks, the summer, or even a year in another country. There are so many powerful organizations we can partner with as believers. Through our church, people we know, or with large, international organization, our opportunities to influence needy children overseas are limitless. Will you pray about how God might be leading you to “go” to the orphan overseas?
17. Become a foster child transporter/visitation worker. This one can not only be a ministry, but a job. Most states are always looking for child transporter and visitation supervisors to monitor weekly family visits between kids and their parents. Some states hire through outside agencies, others hire within. This is a way to not only directly impact the child, foster parent, and birth parent; but it is also a way to get extra income that might benefit your family. Working hours often include evenings and weekends. Olive Crest (http://www.olivecrest.org) is one local resource.
18. Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (Casa) Worker, or Guardian Ad Litem. Are you a lawyer, or do you love law and the legalities of what goes on behind the scenes in the foster child arena? Most states have either paid lawyer positions, or volunteer G.A.L. opportunities who study each child’s case and present to the courts fare, non-biased positions on the direction and legal discussions concerning specific children. A Casa or G.A.L. can greatly influence a judge’s discussion, as they truly do have maximum influence on the permanency of the future of a child. If you are a college student, this might be a great internship for you! These positions are highly needed and it is one where you truly can make a huge difference!
19. Secret Giving. One of the greatest needs for foster/adopted kids is for opportunities for spiritual growth. Want to make an eternal difference? Secretly offer to pay for a foster/adopted child to go to Summer Camp, Church camp, or to local VBS. The change the child will experience, will be more than outward, but internal and eternally.
20. Kid-sit. Did I mention foster/adoptive parents can often be exhausted with the special needs and extra hours required to care for their children? More so, having time with a spouse can be far and few between. Would you consider kid-sitting for an evening or a day? We are always looking for sitters we can trust, and time away. Going to the grocery store without children in tow can seem like a huge gift. One misconception is that you have to be licensed to watch foster children for a few hours. In most states, any trusted adult can kid-sit, as long as it is not for more than a 24 hour period.
21. Consider getting licensed to be a respite provider. There is a huge need for licensed respite providers. Respite or having a licensed person take children for an overnight, a few days, or even week can completely rejuvenate, restore, and recharge tired and weary parents. Check with your local state foster agency about the requirements in your state if this interests you.
22. Visit an orphanage or orphan ministry overseas. Often times, we underestimate our influence overseas. Orphanages in other countries often suffer from overwork, a lack of resources, and often bleak working/living environment for both the staff and the children. Going on a vacation? Contact either the government or private orphanages in the country you are entering. Chances are, both the children and the workers will be blessed by even your day long visit. Consider bringing treats, formula, or asking for what that particular orphanage is in need of beforehand. Government orphanages are more difficult to get into than private, and I would suggest bringing tangible goods instead of giving money directly to a facility or organization. (Unless of course you feel it is completely trustworthy)
23. Encourage and support overseas missionaries you know personally who do orphan ministry. Orphan ministry can be hard work. Something as simple as a short note, a Bible verse, a handwritten letter of encouragement, a surprise one time donation, or sending over needed practical items to those doing children’s ministry can be one of the easiest, but biggest way to empower those who directly work with orphans. Get creative, make something meaningful, take them to coffee and just listen when they are home on sabbatical. Investing in overseas missionaries is investing in the children they work with!
24. Access Social Media – via Facebook, e-mail, and Twitter etc. No one doing foster/adoption or orphan ministry should lack in the fellowship and support from other believers. We are the body of Christ! Who do you know that has adopted, fosters, or works directly with broken/hurting children? Send them a quick Tweet, a Facebook message, or an e-mail today. No matter what our bank account or time restraint…this is something we all can do!
25. Pray – We often use prayer as an “all we can do now is pray”, last chance-resort. But prayer is powerful! It is the fuel that keeps the engine of those working for the Lord moving! Would you consider asking the Lord what orphan or orphan ministry worker He wants you to pray for? Would you make a list of those you feel burdened for and take some time each and every day to pray for them?
Educate yourself. Knowledge truly is power. The more we read, the more we grow into the type of Christians that not only have “a heart” for the orphaned among us, but ones who will actually get up and do what He calls us to in scripture. Check out the list of resources here, Foster & Adoption Resources