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A Season of Firsts

Country Director Philip Barker and his wife Sandie in Myanmar

A Season of Firsts

Going where no Heaven’s Family Ministry has gone before

Dear Friends,

The Orphan’s Tear Ministry has always desired to do everything possible to help children who, due to many complex reasons, have been separated from their families and placed in institutional care. Little could we have imagined just a couple years ago what that “everything” would one day look like!

As you know, the Orphan’s Tear Ministry began a major transition last year, with the aim of safely reintegrating children living in institutions back into family care. That plan meant that we would also stop supporting orphanages in their current form, and work to prevent other children from ever having to be sent away from their families into institutional care. We’ve started this in the country of Myanmar, and it has become the most complex, largest scale project ever undertaken by a Heaven’s Family ministry!

To oversee everything, Orphan’s Tear staff member Philip Barker and his wife Sandie have just relocated from the United Kingdom to Myanmar to take up the position of Country Director. Having traveled to that Southeast Asian nation extensively over the last 7 years working with the orphanages supported by Orphan’s Tear (sometimes making 5 trips a year), he has become very knowledgable and well connected in Myanmar—and I believe he is the perfect man for this job.

Philip was instrumental in setting up the partnership with ACCIR (Australian Christian Churches International Relief) who bring their much-needed experience, knowledge and technical support to safely and effectively reintegrate children back into families, and he’ll be working very closely with their team of professionals.

We knew our team also needed compassionate nationals already involved in caring for children, ones who could speak the many languages and dialects represented by the children currently living in the orphanages. They also needed to have a lot of experience, knowledge and contacts in the villages and other places where the children currently in orphanages originated.

Our choice was obvious: Joney Thawng and Lalchhuan Mawia, longtime friends and partners of Heaven’s Family, both of whom had been directors of busy orphanages sponsored by Orphan’s Tear Ministry before they caught the vision, with us, that children were better off being cared for within families rather than institutions. They themselves stopped taking in new children and began seeking ways to return the children in their care to families.

Joney and Mawia are integral to helping other orphanage directors become fully prepared for the journey ahead, and they’ll also be working to prepare the families and communities that the children will return to through micro-loans and other projects. Although these two faithful men have been working hard on our behalf in an unofficial capacity for some time, we recently hired them as full-time staff of Orphan’s Tear.

To help you get to know Joney and Mawi-a better, click here to see their insight into what we’re doing in Myanmar.

At left, Joney Thawng (left) and Lalchhuan Mawia; at right, newly hired social worker Nester Nang Sang

And finally, Orphan’s Tear and ACCIR have jointly hired a trained social worker in Myanmar named Nester Nang Sang. Together with Joney, Mawia, Philip and the team, Nester will be working to develop a care plan for each of the children that will enable informed decisions to be made on whether safe reintegration with their own (or a substitute family) is possible.

So there you have it, a big Season of Firsts for Orphan’s Tear Ministry and Heaven’s Family! We now have our first Western staff member living in a country where we are ministering, our first full-time national Heaven’s Family staff members, Joney and Mawia, and Nester, our first social worker on staff.

It’s both exciting and a little daunting with so many firsts, but it’s so plain to me that it’s been God who has hand picked all these people for this purpose. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, and I hope that you are too! I would like to ask for your prayers for all the staff of Orphan’s Tear Ministry during this pivotal time.

Thank you so much for your partnership, and please stay tuned for more updates!


Stephen Servant
Director, Orphan’s Tear Ministry


1 Recent Comments

  • Tenney Singer

    It is amazing to see how OT has grown and changed direction in one year! I am so glad I was able to visit Myanmar and see the conditions there. It is a great thing to reunite children with their families, and also to find foster/adoptive families for those who are truly orphaned. God says in His Word He will place the solitary in families, and He is certainly working it out in Myanmar for these children. I love these updates!

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