Residential Care

Toward What End?

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I will never forget the night we met Fran. It was our first night at Hope, and only her second or third. My wife and I had traveled to Brazil to see the program there firsthand. A pizza outing for some of the girls at Hope Ranch let us meet a few of the kids without being overwhelmed. While most of the girls actively engaged us—they were very accustomed to English-only Americans on mission trips—Fran shyly caught our eyes and smiled, head down. It was obvious she was new and didn’t yet know the ropes.   The next day we …

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But What Happens When the Model Doesn’t Work?

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Over the last two decades, the model for care of orphans has greatly changed. Decades ago, long-term, large homes were the prevalent model for orphan care. Big dormitories, or at least large group homes, dominated the landscape of care facilities. Without question—and especially in the emerging world—this model had its problems. Sometimes the problems were fairly minor—kids needed more interaction with society outside the grounds of the orphanage. At other times they were quite severe—children essentially warehoused to get them off the streets and out of sight. Think Oliver Twist repeated around the world. Abuse of children in these facilities …

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Noblesse Oblige

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A good friend has a framed, embroidered motto on his desk, “noblesse oblige” (the obligation of the nobility). I sometimes give him a pretty hard time about it because it can symbolize all that I think is wrong about the Church’s response to issues of poverty and need. It’s like an uncomfortable line that was popular in the privileged class of the South in my childhood, “There but for the grace of God go I”. Condescension is so imbedded in both phrases that they are the very opposite of Christian charity (using that word in the truest sense of 1 …

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But God had something else in mind…

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A few months ago, the Board of Directors of Hope Unlimited for Children reluctantly voted to close our Hope Mountain campus. It was not without pain to make the decision; the need is desperate there, and hearts, efforts, and money had been poured into the transformation of this former prison facility into a place where the lives of boys could be transformed. But, a decade into the project, only marginal local support had joined the U.S. investment, and the cost of running the project was threatening to strangle the Hope organization.   The Board made the decision provisionally: if Hope …

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Maddie

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Today I welcome Maddie to the blog. Last summer sixteen-year-old Maddie and her family visited Hope Unlimited’s City of Youth in Brazil. She recently spoke at a chapel service at her school about her experiences in Brazil.  These words are excerpted from her presentation. Imagine a girl who lives in a comfortable suburban house surrounded by a loving family. She attends Stanford games and vacations in Newport Beach with her family. She attends private school. Imagine another girl who lives in a home of cardboard and plywood, without plumbing or electricity. She walks barefoot on a dirty, trash-filled street. Her mom suffers from mental illness …

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A Heart Made New

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When Carlos first arrived at the City of Youth two years ago, he was just like so many of the kids who have come to call the City of Youth their home. He had virtually no contact with his mother and became a child of the streets when he fled a physically abusive father. But we soon realized there was something different about Carlos. He was weak, often short of breath, and simply did not have the robust appearance that a young teenage boy should have. A pediatrician in Campinas scheduled Carlos for a battery of cardiac exams. Before he made it to …

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Feliz Aniversário!

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The post this week comes from Karen Rodriguez, a member of Princeton Alliance Church in Plainsboro, NJ. A group from Princeton has been in Brazil this month ministering to our kids and refurbishing the sanctuary. How do you get to spend your birthday? Do you get to go out with your family to a nice restaurant? Do they shower you with love, affection, and gifts in many forms?  Do you get to pick any cake you want and have people sing to you?  Does your dad sing the birthday song to you a week before your birthday and continue to …

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Oh Lord, hear my prayer

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At the City of Youth, our flagship campus in Brazil, we have a mid-week chapel service for the kids.  During the service we have an offertory.  Our kids, of course, have no money to give, but come forward and place written prayers and prayer requests in a large bowl at the front of the auditorium.  Many of the prayers are simple, a line or two composed at the last minute, but nonetheless heartfelt, “Lord, thank you for giving me this place to live.”  Others are longer, maybe running a page or two as a child pours out her heart to …

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A New Beginning

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It is an appalling truth that many of the girls at Hope have been sexually abused and exploited. Thanks to the grace of God, that is forever in the past as soon as they reach our campus. Unfortunately, it’s a more difficult and much slower process to change their self-perception. These children have been taught since birth that they have value only as a sexual object. But Hope Unlimited is about transformation. Our story is of a tragic beginning absolutely overwhelmed by a triumphant end. Each February, churches and individuals across the U.S. add a little something to their Valentine’s …

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The Ripple Effect

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Jack and Evangel Smith are two people who changed the world. In 1962, they were Presbyterian missionaries teaching at a mission school in Ethiopia when they started a school for homeless kids in their back yard. This was a mission on top of their mission, but they were so overwhelmed by the poverty they saw, they felt they could do no less. Seeing the desperation around them, they told one little orphan boy, “Tomorrow we will start a school for street children. We want you to come, and bring your friends. But,” they warned him, “don’t bring any thieves.” The …

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