I was reading some of our old newsletters the other day, and came across the report of my first trip to Myanmar, in December of 2002. That was two years and two months before Orphan’s Tear existed. Our ministry then was known as Shepherd Serve (which is now just one of the three divisions of Heaven’s Family). My heart had been so touched when I visited two orphanages on that trip. When I came home, I described one of them in my newsletter:
The orphanage these children live in is a small one-room house made of planks. Twenty-two children sleep on the same floor where they also have school and eat their meals. The orphanage director and his wife sleep in the same small room behind a curtain….Because of your kindness, Shepherd Serve had the privilege of providing two weeks of the full expenses for three orphanages consisting of a total of almost one-hundred kids….I’m looking forward to the day when….Shepherd Serve will be enabled to…assist orphanages in many poor places.
Although I was hopeful, I would not have imagined that six years later we’d be providing for over 1,150 children each month who live in forty-one different orphanages in eight nations. Nor could I foresee that the Lord would entrust us with hundreds of thousands of dollars with which to build scores of adequate dorms for those orphanages. God has been good.
When we started Orphan’s Tear in early 2005, I didn’t realize how much administration it would require. In fact, I’ve often said that it is a good thing I didn’t realize how much administration it would require. If I had, I would never have started Orphan’s Tear! Thankfully, we have a very computer-savvy staff, and we’ve employed various pieces of software to make the administration somewhat easier. We’ve even hired a firm in the past to design proprietary software that works in conjunction with the Orphan’s Tear website. Still, there have been loads of on-going frustrations. I will spare you the details. I’m sure you have enough of your own frustrations without having to listen to ours!
The good news is that, after researching for many months, we’ve found a new piece of software that will do everything we need and more. It was initially designed decades ago for World Vision, and it has been steadily upgraded and improved over the years. We’ve just about completed the process of having all of our data regarding orphans, orphanages, sponsors and their sponsorships—found in four different software sources in our office—combined and converted so that it works with our new software. Before long, you’ll be able to visit our website, type in your name and account number, and see the children you sponsor and your contribution record, select your preferences regarding receipts and newsletters, and much more. This is the same sophisticated software used by much larger ministries such as Gospel for Asia and Food for the Hungry. For us, it has been an answer to prayer.
Once we have all the bugs worked out of our new software, we intend to begin focusing on finding more sponsors, as that is our biggest challenge. We have about 300 children currently waiting for sponsorship on our website and at least twenty-five orphanages that are waiting to be officially adopted by Orphan’s Tear (so that we will post their children on the website). Many more orphanages desire to be on that waiting list. The needs we are hoping to meet are huge. But we know that nothing is impossible with God.
There are, of course, other Christian organizations that have child sponsorship programs, and in some cases they have hundreds of thousands of children sponsored. But it hasn’t happened by accident, but by an investment of time and money. I learned some months ago, to my great surprise, that all of the Christian artists who are promoting child sponsorships for World Vision and Compassion are normally paid $75 for every child who is sponsored at their concerts! I was shocked and disheartened when I first learned that, but the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that those organizations are investing $75 to get a return of thousands of dollars that help very poor children and their families. And what they;ve done has worked. Before Christian artists go on tour, many of them are given an advance of tens of thousands of dollars by these organizations, as they can pretty much predict how many children will be sponsored at each concert.
We, of course, don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to give to Christian artists to find us sponsors for our orphans. But at least I’m finally realizing that we need to put more effort into finding sponsors if we want to help more children. So we’re going to budget more funds for this purpose. Of course, none of those funds will come out of your monthly sponsorship gifts. 100% of that is sent to the orphanage where your child lives. (The decision to send 100% of sponsorship gifts was another one of those things I decided before I knew what I was getting in to! But God has helped us.)
OK, so that is just a little news this month from behind the scenes. Everything else is going well, and the lives of hundreds of orphans and unwanted children are steadily improving because of your love. All the cyclone damage to our orphanages has been repaired. Last month we were able to buy our ninth rice field for another one of our orphanages in Myanmar. We currently have eleven orphanage dormitories under construction, and four more are just about to be started.
As always, thanks to every sponsor and to everyone who has given to the Orphan’s Tear Special Gifts Fund and the Dorms for Orphanages Fund. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their Economic Stimulus check to the Education Fund. Because of those gifts, last month were also able to start a computer training center in Myanmar at which many of our orphans will learn valuable computer skills. Praise God for all this progress!
For the Children,