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Stay Tuned In
by Julie Cramer
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2012
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:18–20).

Like John the Baptist, Orphan Outreach is calling out the Good News of Christ through the mouthpiece of radio stations across the country. Cornerstone University Radio (CU) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the first such radio ministry partner, and is home to 91.3 WCSG, 89.9/88.3 WaYfm, and Mission Network News. Yet the call is more than a message; it is an invitation to follow in the footsteps of the Savior.

“We’ve always wanted to have a way to encourage our listeners to do something for God … not just listen to good music. We wanted them to get out of their comfort zones. That’s how it all got started,” said Greg Yoder (pictured right), an Orphan Outreach Board member and executive director of Mission Network News (MNN) of the partnership between CU and Orphan Outreach. “Every story has a call to action—to pray, to give, to go.”

“CU was willing to trust that we could provide their listeners with an awesome mission trip experience even though we were a new ministry,” said Tiffany Taylor Wines, director of marketing for Orphan Outreach. “Their trust has let us build relationships with other stations across the nation.”

Yoder, who has traveled with Orphan Outreach seven times, said MNN—with an average listener base of 3 million every day—tries to offer listeners two mission trips per year, always to a new location.

“Orphan Outreach isn’t using the cookie-cutter approach,” he said. “It has allowed us to be more flexible in our trip offerings.” This flexibility has allowed listeners with everything from construction skills to medical expertise answer the call to serve orphans overseas.

“Orphan Outreach is all about the gospel. It’s about helping the children see Christ. That’s why I love the ministry so much,” he said. “Not only are they reaching out to children who have a stigma and no hope, but they are also giving them hope physically and spiritually and encouraging Christians to play an active role in that. They don’t do it alone; they do it with churches and people on the ground.”

Listen up

“I heard the trip to Guatemala announced in June 2008, and my heart missed a beat,” said Robin Tomkins, a 10-year listener of WCSG. “A piece of my heart stayed in Guatemala, and when I returned to Michigan, many of the 20 team members talked about returning. Sure enough, we did return the next year, with our focus being to meet the medical needs of those in the Panabaj and Santiago.”

The group set up camp in the village, and 300 people walked to the clinic each day for care.

“There were always plenty of kids to entertain in the courtyard,” she said. “We had a station for teaching about cleanliness, once for vacation Bible school and another for games. All focused on the love of Jesus. By this time a few of us had been to Guatemala a couple of times and were not about to call it quits.” For the next two years, WCSG listeners made the journey to the small Central American country, to the even smaller village, and provided medical care for 1,500 more people.

“The needs are great, but the love is greater,” she said. “And the laughter of a child is the sweetest sound I know. I feel it is essential for Cornerstone, Orphan Outreach and other ministries to reach out to others because that is what we are called to do in Matthew 28:18–19. We don’t need to do or say anything fancy, we just need to reach out and disciple those around us.  Some are called to travel afar and others to stay near home.  Without organizations like Cornerstone and Orphan Outreach reaching out to others, many of us may not do anything for the least of these. Knowing that someone has the details of living arrangements and food taken care of, we can go and love as Jesus would have us do. Sometimes the best lessons are learned far from home.”

“Like” Latvia

Zachary Nyhuis, senior pastor of Gowen Bible Church in Gowen, Michigan, also heard about an Orphan Outreach mission trip to Latvia when it was announced on WCSG radio and Mission Network News in 2010. While there, Nyhuis spoke with pastor Sergey Garkusa of Light of the Gospel Church, which runs a Day Center for children—and knew he was to form a partnership with them.

“Since that first trip, our church has taken Orphan Outreach, Light of the Gospel Church, and its Day Center as missions partners,” Nyhuis said. As a father of five under the age of 10, with his wife, Karina, Zachary knows the commitment it takes to care for children.

“I could talk for hours about the Day Center and how much it means to me,” Nyhuis said. “I see God doing amazing things there.”

To the ends of the earth

Orphan Outreach and its new radio partners are determined to make disciples, even to the ends of the earth. And the servant-heartedness that Wines witnessed in Santiago, Guatemala, ensures this will happen.

“I was with Patty Riva, CU’s marketing director, ministering to people that had been living in temporary housing for several years after their homes had been destroyed by Hurricane Mitch. The children were covered with lice and all of them were sick. It was a desperate situation. I could see tears in Patty’s eyes behind her sunglasses and she said, ‘We have to come back and really do something for these people.’ She kept her word, and the next year a team went back to do medical missions to that area. A team from Michigan has gone back almost every year since to serve those people. They have not been forgotten because of Cornerstone’s commitment.

“We love that Cornerstone always wants to look at new countries in which to help,” Wines added. “They were our first team to Latvia, and they will be recruiting listeners for our first team to Kenya in January.”

“I think Orphan Outreach is an amazing organization, and we continue to work with them because of their heart for orphan ministry, the ease with which we can work with them, and certainly the relationships we have formed with many of their very committed staff,” said Patty Riva, CU Radio’s marketing director. CU Radio has seen not only growth in the number of listeners participating in the Orphan Outreach mission trips, but also in the impact listeners are having once they return to the States. Several trip participants have come back and organized—through their churches or other means—another trip to that country. This is part of what we had hoped for by offering these trips—that listeners would continue to help those in need. Many of our listeners go to churches that don’t offer short-term trips, so we are thankful that we can offer them an opportunity through our stations and Orphan Outreach.”

More on the Dial

Encouragement FM—home of 89.5 KVNE and KGLY—is a nonprofit, listener-funded radio ministry out of Tyler, Texas, that has joined the efforts of Orphan Outreach for many years by hosting Mission Backpack and Undies for Orphans drives.

Leah Combs, director of donor relations, said the drives are a wonderful way for listeners to be involved in orphan care in the States.

“It is a greater joy still to be able to see the faces of the children as you deliver the items that you’ve collected,” she said. Combs and her daughter, Jenna, were able to experience this type of giving on a trip to Guatemala.

“We saw families digging through the roadside trash. The contrast was overwhelming when I compared the lifestyle of the children living in the orphanage to the children living with their parents in the cities. It seems to me that the orphans have a much greater chance of success in their lives. They are not only fed and clothed, but also are being taught skills for survival and making a living when they leave the orphanage,” she said.

“It’s important to continue working in these countries because the poverty is so extreme that children without parents would, literally, have no chance.”

“Working with Orphan Outreach was an outstanding experience!” Combs added. “The trip was well organized, and the staff and translators were always ready to help. The accommodations and food were great, and I never felt unsafe.”

Combs, who has worked with Encouragement FM for 19 years, said, “I love watching God work. I love how he takes our simple, human efforts and turns them into something amazing.”

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