There are approximately 153 million orphaned children in the world. That’s an unfathomable number. Yet even this number does not begin to cover the depth of the orphan crisis. This number excludes institutionalized children, children on the streets, or children at risk, neglected or abused. Of these children, only 0.5% will have the opportunity for international adoption. This means our care for the orphan has to extend beyond adoption. It has to include the global church responding to God’s command to care for the orphan in our world today.
In 2003, Restoration of Educational Advancement Programs (REAP) was formed by Christine Norman, the daughter of former Liberian president, William J. Tolbert, Jr. This organization was formed with the purpose of glorifying Christ and providing hope to thousands of children affected by 14 years of civil war in Liberia. REAP has founded Biblically-based outreach programs in schools throughout Liberia. They have provided medicines, books, food, and clothing to hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children. They have provided specialized caregiver training for orphanage workers and directors throughout the country to be able to more effectively care for children from trauma backgrounds. REAP’s programs continue to change and evolve as specific needs arise.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways that REAP has impacted orphans and vulnerable children in Liberia is through their Youth Enlightenment and Empowerment Skills Program (YEESP). This program consists of Biblically-based, gospel-centered life skills camps that minister to orphans in and around the Monrovia area of Liberia. These camps focus on giving the children doctrinally sound Biblical teaching, while also providing them with necessary life skills to be able to function socially as they age out of their orphanages, and vital job skills so that they are trained in vocation and are prepared to work and provide for themselves upon aging out. The camps take place twice a year and are three weeks in length. Ideally, the campers will attend each camp for three years in order to receive a certificate upon completion.
What role does The Church at Brook Hills play in this? More than five years ago, Brook Hills began to partner with Lifeline Children’s Services and REAP in Liberia. Through your giving, these camps have been fully funded since the partnership began. Since that time, more than 450 orphans and vulnerable children have been ministered to through the camp programs. Every single child who has been through the camp has heard the gospel, most for the first time, and many, many of these children have put their faith in Christ. Praise God for His grace in changing the eternities of young men and women in Liberia, and for allowing The Church at Brook Hills to be a part of that.
To learn more about the ministry of Lifeline (un)Adopted visit lifelinechild.org/unadopted, or for more information about adoption visit lifelinechild.org.
Michael Edwards serves as the Director for Lifeline (un)Adopted, focusing specifically on care for the global population of orphaned children who will never be adopted. (un)adopted aims to equip and empower the global church to fulfill the biblical mandate of caring for vulnerable and orphaned children. Michael and his family have been members of The Church at Brook Hills for 5 years.