Sunday, December 19, 2010

Big News!

Even before Children's Hope was launched in September, we had been talking with folks from the AL Baptist Children's Home about extending to the Mtg. area, so FBC members could be foster parents through their ministry. It has taken awhile, but FBC is officially partnering with them, and they will conduct foster care training (GPS) beginning on Tuesday, February 1st from 6 - 9 pm. This training will run for 10 weeks. We have a great group of FBC members who have signed up for this training, but there is room for more. If you are interested or know someone who is interested, please let me know.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a request from Montgomery County DHR for pack-n-plays or baby beds. They had an unusual week in that they needed to provide for four babies. Well, you all came through and we were able to fulfill this need, so thank you. If any of you have baby beds or pack-n-plays that are not being used and you want to donate them, please let me know.
This is an ongoing need with DHR.

I want to share with you another way that the Lord uses His children to meet the needs of the least of these. Andy and I were recently informed about a member of our church, Mary Green, who has been given temporary custody of her granddaughter, Shaday. Shaday's mother tested positive for drugs when she gave birth and her father is deceased. Shaday was a preemie weighing only a little over four pounds and now at 2 months, she is over seven pounds.

Mrs. Green has been bringing Shaday to her Sunday School class at FBC and shared that she needed some legal assistance with Shaday's hearing, because she wants permanent custody of her granddaughter. About two weeks ago, I was informed that a new member of our church wanted to get involved in Children's Hope, so I set up a time to meet with Jessica Pitts. Jessica shared with me that she had experience as a Guardian ad litem and had a strong interest in using this to help others. And there you go! Jessica plans to represent Mrs. Green at her hearing in April regarding custody of Shaday. God is so faithful! Mrs. Green could also use some help with used baby clothes if anyone has some to donate. She is in 0 -6 mos. currently.
Diapers are always an expensive need as well.

Finally, an update on our 16 children in Haiti. Below you will find two pictures that Samuel , their caregiver sent us. One is of the children sitting around their table eating rice and the other is of the children all ready for school. Andy, Dow, and Beth planned to make a trip in December to visit them and take Christmas present. However, Port au Prince has been filled with violence since the election at the end of November. The airport was closed recently stranding mission teams. We have been advised to hold off until January.

John and Jeannette Bush recently highlighted the need of the 16 children to have a nutritional supplement since their diets only consist of beans and rice. The Poundstone Sunday School class agreed to provide the financing for this supplement. This should result in healthier children who hopefully, will have a greater resistance to disease. Many thanks go out to the Poundstone class for their very generous donation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Growing Ministry!

Dow and Pastor Barry Wilkinson (Andalusia)
Andy, Samuel, and Dow
Dow playing with some of the 16 children
Samuel handing out raisins - a big treat

A lot has happened since the launching of Children's Hope in late September. We've had two adoption meetings. The first meeting was very well attended and was quite informal. FBC members who had adopted both internationally and domestically (DHR and private) were on hand to share experiences and answer questions from those interested in learning more about adoption. Our second meeting took place in November with a representative from Lifeline Children's Services in Birmingham and Columbus, GA. He was very informative and shared very practical details.
In the area of foster care, our luggage drive was a huge success! Kim Beam and I delivered around 150 pieces of luggage to Montgomery County DHR. They were very grateful and quite overwhelmed with our donation. We continue to seek families who are interested in becoming foster parents.
Kathy Cooper, Minister to Singles at FBC, is a strong supporter of our ministry and returned from an orphanage in Moldova with 100X Missions and Philip Cameron Ministries. Kathy will lead a mission trip back to this area in June of 2011. It was through Kathy that we learned that Philip Cameron Ministries (home office in Ramer) was collected coats, gloves, etc. to ship to Moldova on Dec. We quickly went to work and delivered a van full of items to Ramer the week of Thanksgiving.
Andy returned to Haiti in October and our son, Dow, was able to travel with him. They found the 16 children doing very well. They were pleased to see the home furnished with beds, a refrigerator, a table and chairs, and other household items. They were able to spend time playing with the children and making Christmas ornaments. During this trip, funds were provided to get the children enrolled in school, purchase uniforms, and hire extra help with household chores. Women from the children's church will be hired to help out. The pastor from their church is Pastor Paul and he leads the other Baptist pastors in the area. He works closely with Florida and Alabama Baptist, and mentors Samuel in the care of the children.
Children in front of their freshly painted

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Launching of Children's Hope

The Lord placed a need for a church orphan ministry on our hearts (Andy and Tanya Birchfield) after we brought Cristina Hope into our family from Moldova. It became very clear to us that the needs of orphans and vulnerable children were great and Scripture mandates Christians to reach out and care for these children. We formed a prayer group from members of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, AL to seek God's plan for our church. After a few months, a plan began to formulate, and Children's Hope was launched at First Baptist on September 26, 2010.

Our orphan ministry includes three components which are adoption, foster care, and orphan support. In regards to adoption, we plan to have regular support/educational meetings for
those interested in adopting or learning more about the process. As families adopt, we want to have a support group in place that will come alongside them and assist in practical ways such as preparing meals, tutoring, transportation, etc. We will partner with Lifesong for Orphans in order to assist families with the financial cost of adoption.

Secondly, we plan to inform FBC of the needs of foster care children in our area and provide
training for those members who are interested in fostering. These families will also benefit greatly from a support group of church members who can assist with what is often a difficult job. We hope to come alongside our local Dept. of Human Resources office and lend a hand by holding a luggage drive for foster care children.

Finally, the last component is direct orphan support. The Lord has opened up a possibility of working along side 16 orphans in Jacmel, Haiti through the Alabama State Board of Mission.
These 16 children were left homeless after the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010.
Andy and I visited these children in August and along with some assistance, I am happy to say that they are now out of a tent and in a rental home. They now have beds to sleep on and other household furnishings such as a table and chairs and even a refrigerator! (See pics below).

We are very excited about how the Lord is going to use this ministry. We are very grateful to our pastor and other church staff members who have been instrumental in the launching of Children's Hope. We look forward to how the Lord will use our church to bless needy children throughout the world. However, I think our church members can look forward to some blessings as well!