Why Is Hosting Effective Ministry to Orphans?

by Michelle Vernon, New Horizons for Children 

What is Orphan Hosting?
Orphan hosting is inviting an orphan from another country to be a member of your family for a period of time. New Horizons for Children offers two Orphan Hosting Programs per year, 5-6 weeks in the summer and 4-5 weeks in the winter.

 

Why is Hosting Effective Ministry to Orphans?
There are many reasons why Orphan Hosting is a positive experience in the life of an orphaned child.

 

1. Sharing the Gospel Message
Many orphans have never heard of Jesus, while others have. Either way, not a single orphan has had the opportunity to be mentored. Every host family is introducing the bible into the orphan’s life by providing one in their own language and using a variety of resources to share the gospel message, including “The Story of Jesus for Children,” which is also available in the child’s language. Orphan Hosting reaches children while their hearts are more likely still open to hearing the message.

2. Church Attendance
Every host family is required to attend church with their host child. While church isn’t Christ, it’s expected that most host children have not been introduced to church or understand its role in the life of a Christian family. By introducing a hosted child to church, they can understand more how a church operates and how it can meet their needs. We would hope this experience will remain with the child and they too would seek to join a church in their adulthood.

3. Prayer
Many orphans have no concept of prayer. It’s important for them to learn that prayer can be done anywhere and that God hears their prayers no matter where they find themselves. The host family models prayer and eventually, most of the host children will join in with family prayers and some are even willing to initiate those prayers by the end of a host period. To come to the knowledge that God is listening to us all, no matter whom or where we are, is instrumental to instilling hope into the life of an orphan and open them to listening for God’s voice.

4. Family Model
Most orphans have never experienced a functional, family environment. No matter the reason they find themselves institutionalized, they are likely to repeat the same cycle as they grow older unless they are exposed to a different model of family. It’s impossible to hope for something different if you’ve never experienced anything different. A home where the parent is dependable, present and plugged into the lives of the children will highlight for them the proper role of the parent. Living with a family also highlights proper relationships with siblings and extended family members.

5. Positive Long-term Relationships
NHFC encourages all host families to see hosting as building a relationship with their host child. Orphaned children very much need positive relationships, ones where they can learn to depend on the individual to be consistent in their care, concern and love, love that is unconditional, redeeming and all about restoration. 

6. Increase in English Language
No matter where you go in the world, being able to speak the English language represents a level of respect. An asset an older orphan could have is the ability to speak the English language fluently. Such ability will typically lead to a better job. While being hosted, though there are translation resources, a child is being immersed in the English language for several weeks. For a child who has already begun taking English lessons, they will see their vocabulary increase. For others who have not yet begun English lessons, it will offer a good base to begin.

7. Increase in Self-Esteem
To orphans, the idea that they are being chosen to visit America is a huge boost to their self-esteem and self-worth. To be “chosen” is in itself a gift. Once here, being treated as equal members of the family is pouring into them the message that they have value.  

8. Create Childhood Memories
Good memories are few and far between for orphans. Participating in hosting activities and taking trips with the host family are making good memories for orphans who have none. Hosting allows orphans to see things they have never seen and likely will never see. Toys and creative play are also new for most orphans. Orphanages typically cannot afford toys or cannot afford their frequent replacement. Engaging through a variety of toys, structured play time and creative role play allows for a child to discover their own unique personality. Additionally, hosting allows older siblings the ability to relax, instead of having to be in the protective parental role.

9. Safety of the Orphan
Being out of the orphanage for the period of time insures the child is safe. There is no shortage of threats to vulnerable orphans. Hosting, for any length of time, is a healthy respite for the orphan and protects them from less than desirable influences.

10. Dental and Eye Care
Host families setup both dental and eye exams. Many orphans need extensive dental care and do not have access in their country. Coming for hosting allows for several weeks to address dental issues. In the same way, orphans are taken for eye exams and if glasses are needed, they are provided.

11. Possibility of Adoption
Hosting provides a critical opportunity for orphans hoping for permanent adoptive families. Hosting focuses on older orphans age 8-16, sibling sets and special needs children. These groups of orphans have about a 1% chance at international adoption because most families interested in adoption are interested in babies and toddlers. Hosting highlights these often overlooked children. Once in homes, host families and surrounding friends and family come to realize what we already know… they are just normal children, with the same hopes and dreams as all the others, but without the resources, opportunities and support needed to reach those dreams.

12. Introduction of Orphan Ministry to the Church
Hosting also provides a means of introducing a congregation to orphan ministry by putting a face and a name with the word “orphan.” No longer simply a word in James 1:27, it often times ignites the congregation to further orphan ministry. Sometimes, something as simple as meeting and interacting with an “orphan,” will be the catalyst to opening hearts to a focused ministry that supports orphans, whether through sponsorship, mission trips to orphanages, host program or adoption.

 

About New Horizons for Children
The mission of New Horizons for Children (NHFC) is to identify school age orphans in other countries who have an ability to integrate with and temporarily live in a functional family environment through a 4-5 week hosting program with American Christian families who show the love of Christ. Hosting is open to families nationwide. Hosting is ideal for families who have a heart for missions and orphans, but can’t travel overseas for a mission trip. In this case, we bring the mission into the family and their local congregation.  Hosting focuses on older orphans age 8-16, orphans who are part of sibling sets and special needs orphans. These groups of orphans have about a 1% chance at international adoption. These orphans are truly the “least” of the “least of these.  Since 2005, approximately 1600 orphans have been hosted through the New Horizons for Children Orphan Host Ministry.

Our family's first orphan hosting experience with Sasha (left) from Ukraine

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