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Serving at an Orphanage on Summer Missions
Have you considered spending a few days on project volunteering at a local orphanage?
It is our privilege to lead summer projects that directly connect with God’s profound love for the fatherless and motherless. Students love having a humanitarian aid component to their summer projects. The statistics and stories we gather indicate that a significant number of students go on summer projects primarily because of the orphan care component or that it was what confirmed their desire to join a particular project. Also, some students not previously involved with Cru are drawn to come with us because they desire expressing both Good News and Good Deeds. And, what a tremendous joy it is that several orphans give their lives to Christ each year!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find an orphanage in the city I’m going to?
Check out this list of orphanages around the world that Cru has partnered with in previous years. If your city is not on this list, contact the Christian Alliance for Orphans to see if they know of an orphanage in your city. If they don’t know of one, you can also Google “(Your city Name) Orphanage.”
Does the orphanage need to be Christian-based?
Although it would be nice if the orphanage is Christian-based, it is not necessary. The main benefit of it being Christian is that your students would have more freedom to have Gospel conversations with the children.
How should I get in contact with the orphanage?
Once you’ve found an orphanage, it would be best to begin an email correspondence with the director of the orphanage before you go on your project. At the end of this document there are some email templates you can use to initiate with the orphanage.
When and how often should our team go to the orphanage while on project?
Depending on how long you’ll be in country, you should plan to go to the orphanage 1-3 times. It is best to plan these visits at strategic times in the project’s cycle of momentum. The main caution is that you want to avoid creating a dynamic where serving at the orphanage competes with doing evangelism on campus. Serving at the orphanage should support (not compete with) the primary missional objective of your project, which is to develop a spiritual movement on campus.
Should we invite students we meet on campus to come with us to the orphanage?
Yes. Involving students you meet on campus is a critical component of incorporating orphan care (and other Gospel demonstration activities) into your project. Not involving students increases the likelihood that serving at the orphanage will become an activity that is detached from (and possibly competes with) your project’s primary missional objective.
As project students meet students on campus, they could extend this simple invitation, “One of the things our group is doing this summer is volunteering at the Hope Orphanage. We’re going there this Saturday. Would you like to join us?”
Inviting students to join you in serving at the orphanage becomes a convenient (and meaningful) way to meet again and continue the conversation—especially with students who may otherwise not be interested in meeting again (e.g., for follow-up, Bible study, etc.)
Should we bring supplies/gifts from America to give to the orphanage/orphans?
When you are corresponding with the director of the orphanage prior to your trip, ask them to identify the orphanage’s greatest needs and ask them what (if anything) would be helpful to bring from the U.S. (e.g., school supplies, books, toiletries, toys, etc.).
How can we use the orphan care experience to teach students about God’s heart for orphans, widows, and outcasts?
It would be beneficial to have a briefing time where you can discuss God’s heart for the poor and how serving at the orphanage is a way to demonstrate the Gospel. You can find several teaching resources at http://crupressgreen.com/action/
Another strategic resource we encourage all teams doing orphan care to invest in is SENT – an interactive devotional & journal created by Cru. Order at the Hope For Orphans website.
What are some evangelistic resources we can share with the children?
- Discover God 4 Kids - Spanish version is coming soon.
- The Greatest Promise – Multiple languages available.
How can I help my students use this service opportunity as an occasion to initiate Gospel conversations with the students they invite?
You will need to coach them in the art of relational evangelism—teaching them how to draw on the experiences at the orphanage to transition into Gospel conversations. This is one of the best ways you can equip your students for a lifetime of ministry. Here are a few resources that may spark your coaching:
How can we debrief the experience and cast vision for adopting a missional lifestyle that integrates proclaiming and demonstrating the Gospel?
God often works in powerful ways through these experiences and simply asking students to share what they observed and experienced can generate fruitful insights. You can also give them resources for further reading which can be found at CruPressGreen.com/action
See the Live It & Tell It sections in the SENT guidebook for other questions you can use to generate discussion after the orphan care experiences. You also can find multiple articles about debriefing at the Summer Project Debrief on the Wiki. Many of these articles highlight how to incorporate the Word, story-telling, evaluation, celebration and steps to take after the experience.
Potential Summer Project Resources
- Together For Adoption – powerful sermons in the resource section
- Hope For Orphans – a ministry of Cru
- Christian Alliance For Orphans - Cru is a member of CAFO, most of the book resources below came from this website.
- Piper Video – John Piper shares about the richness of the theology and practice of adoption
Books about orphans and orphan care – all can be found on Amazon, unless noted.
- Orphanology: Awakening Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care by Tony Merida and Rick Morton.
- Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt.
- Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God by Kay Warren.
- Three Names of Me (a children’s book) by Mary Cummings.
- The Christians Response to the Fatherless (DVD). Find in the FamilyLife.com store.
- Rainbows of Hope – resource website
Books about the theology of our adoption by God
- Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert A. Peterson.
- Reclaiming Adoption. Articles by John Piper, Scotty Smith, Richard Phillips, Jason Kovacs. Compiled by Dan Cruver, founder of Together for Adoption
Concrete steps people can take to care for orphans
Quotes From Students
“I loved it. I thought it was good to be able to not only help people in a spiritual way but also in a physical way. We were able to play with the kids and clean up a hospital and do some good along with sharing the Gospel.” Sophomore; Ghana 2012
“We had the opportunity to see the true poverty that exists in Nairobi, which gave all of us new perspective.” Sophomore; Kenya (Student Venture) 2012
“I worked in an NGO (non-governmental organization) that worked with women and children in the brothels. It showed me how much love the women and children have despite what they have to experience in a day to day basis, and how much they need Jesus. I learned why it’s important not only to incorporate service into your life, but also active ministry and faith-sharing with college students and future leaders.” Sophomore; Gateway Project (Great Lakes) 2012
“Teaching/Tutoring taught me so much about life and learning. It was a crucial part to the growth I had on the trip.” Sophomore; South Africa: Pretoria (Northeast region) 2012
“It was a challenge to connect with children that did not share any our language. It taught us to share Christ’s LOVE, which requires no words.” Junior; Sam’s Place 2012
“I 100% would not have considered this project if children would not have been involved in it.” Senior; Pretoria, South Africa Summer Project 2009
Email templates for initiating with orphanages
For a Christian orphanage:
My name is Monica Montoya I work with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) in the United States and this summer (May 10th – June 22nd) I’m bringing a group of Christian college students to Addis Ababa to help establish/build a Christian ministry at the University of Addis Ababa.
As part of our mission trip, we would like to spend a few days serving at an orphanage near the campus. I found out about your orphanage from the Christian Alliance for Orphans.
Could you please tell me about your orphanage, its greatest needs, and whether you’d be open to having us volunteer at your orphanage while we’re in Addis Ababa this summer?
I look forward to hearing from you.
For a secular orphanage:
My name is Monica Montoya I work with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) in the United States and this summer (May 10th – June 22nd) I’m bringing a group of college students to Bogota to partner with students at the University of Colombia in their efforts to serve the campus and surrounding community.
As part of our program, we would like to spend a few days serving at an orphanage in Bogota.
Could you please tell me about your orphanage, its greatest needs, and whether you’d be open to having us volunteer at your orphanage while we’re in Bogota this summer?
I look forward to hearing from you.
For a secular orphanage in a closed country:
My name is Monica Montoya and this summer (May 10th – June 22nd) I’ll be in Jinan with a group of U.S. college students participating in a language and cultural immersion program.
As part of our program, we would like to spend a few days serving at an orphanage in Jinan.
Could you please tell me about your orphanage, its greatest needs, and whether you’d be open to having us volunteer at your orphanage while we’re in Jinan this summer?
I look forward to hearing from you.