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What Does It Mean to Serve Orphans Well?

Each year, around 50 short-term mission teams travel with Orphan Outreach to serve in Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Latvia, and Russia. The teams are as diverse as the countries they visit – traditional churches, individuals from across the country, like-minded groups and organizations. All share a similar passion – to care for orphans and vulnerable children.

But what purpose does a short-term mission trip truly have when it comes to caring for orphans? Social media feeds are filled with stories of potential harm being done by teams from the United States who pack bags with gifts for orphans in developing countries, and the term “voluntourism” has become a popular one to describe trips in which little sustainable ministry is actually done.


Orphan Outreach asks ministry partners, mission trip leaders, and even the people served by teams that pack bags and travel to other lands to minister to orphans and vulnerable children, “What does it mean to serve orphans well?” Read the five-part series, and then share your stories with us.

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“We see first-hand the impact mission trips have on ministries, kids, their communities, and the Church when done well,” shares Katherine Cheng. “That’s why we go.” ~ From “That’’s Why We Go”


Maria holds the flame from the open fire pit that has prepared food for decades, as the mission team that built the new stove circles round her to pray for health and safety. She lights the wood in the new stove, and feels the heat radiate from the cooktop. “I have prayed for a stove for so very long. God has heard me today.” ~ From “Mission Trips and Tangible Hope”


In Latvia, Ivanda tells the story of her American friend, Will, who spent time teaching her how to make a bracelet. He walked with her to lunch and back, listening to her. Sergey talks about his friend, Zach, who wrote him a note. Sergey thinks Zach should come back more often. Intars is older than the others, he’s eighteen and has seen many visitors pass through. His favorites are Will, Julia, Blair, and Vince -  and he sees the time he spent with his friends from United States and their conversations as invaluable. ~From “The Transforming Power of Time”

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“Throw your heart and soul into the ring without reservation,” Ellen Ratcliff wrote in her Facebook post. “Feel what you feel, know what you know, and always share the kindness and love you feel within with everyone you meet.” ~From “To the Ends of the Earth”

needs 1 The attitude with which a team goes into a mission with leaves lasting impact as well. “We are welcomed where we go. I believe not because of the material things that we bring but because of the posture that the group comes with.  A posture of cultural awareness, servanthood, peace, and love,” says Ricky Cotto, discussing trips to village towns in India. ~From “What Are Your Needs?”



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