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“It’s too hard here; why don’t we go someplace where people actually care about the kids?”

 Easy answer. If they care about the kids, they probably don’t need us. But there’s another reason to stay and minister in a place that’s “too hard.” Sometimes we can actually change the context, providing a point of focus for those who DO a have heart for the least of these, and teaching others in the culture to care.

In almost any place, there are those who truly do care about the children. But they are often overwhelmed by a cultural context that rejects any responsibility for both biological and social orphans. By showing up in a place like Brazil, or Thailand, or Romania, orphan-care organizations give a place of connection and service to the often isolated voices of those who are called to serve. A local church, a pastor, or a social worker finds like hearts and minds and is willing to “roll up their sleeves” and join in ministry. In so doing, they often discover others in their community who feel exactly as they do. It may not be an indigenous critical mass, but it’s a start.

A second thing that happens is that orphans begin to be more than the faceless, nameless children of the streets. At our Campinas campuses, we take every opportunity to make our kids real to the community. If there is a parade, our band will be marching in it. If there is a community program, our choir will be there singing. If there is a community service day, our kids will be there with there serving others even as they are served. Their presence will not change many minds, but it will change some.

Incrementally, a context of caring is developed.

Over perhaps five, ten years, a culture is changed. A community becomes aware. Leaders discover that orphans are worth saving. Families find ways to invest in others. And one day we realize that, because we stayed long enough, we are “someplace where people actually care about the kids” — at least some people — and things are moving in the right direction. A context of caring has taken root…

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