Ready to Host: More Introductions

Part 2 of the Featured Families Series

Summer hosting is in full swing!  Today, the second set of host children are arriving to spend the summer with their host families.  The hosting experience is exciting, exhilarating, and sometimes exhausting.  This year, the NHFC blog will be following four families as they experience hosting for the first time.  Each week, one of the Featured Families will write an update about what their time has been like.  For all of these writers, the hope is that hosting can be represented realistically: all the hard and all the joy, as well as all the reasons why this is one of the most transformative experiences a family can have.
 
Today, we would like to introduce you to the second two of our Featured Families as they start this journey.
 
 

Elliott & Danelle Blackwell

 

What they do:Blackwell Family

Regional Merchandiser & Branch Administrator

Their family:

Two boys, ages 15 & 10

Who they are hosting:

A teenage girl, “T”

How they found out about hosting:

My wife, Danelle, and I are creatures of habit and like our daily routines. Two years ago, we found those routines upended and ourselves leaving our home outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, and traveling half-way round the world to go to a foreign country that was outside of our comfort zones and our language. Yet it would be one of the happiest times in our family’s lives. It was there we met the boy who would become our son. Cava was not born to us, but he was born for us. And God had him picked out for our family. We are an ordinary family following an extraordinary God. A God who is a Father to the Fatherless.

It was while we were at Cava’s boarding school that we met “T,” the girl we are hosting. And it all started with a simple act: I opened the door for her. It was something my mother had raised me to do, so it came natural to me to open the door for a female. What was familiar and common-place to me was anything but for “T.” This small act of kindness showed her that someone saw her, that someone cared enough to open the door for her and let her pass through first. The boarding school was in a very rural village and we had nowhere else to stay but in the boarding school itself. We got to spend time not only with Cava, but with other orphans, including “T,” who sought us out every chance she got. It did not take long for us to grow attached to her and she to us. We were left wondering why God had brought this girl across our family’s path. For over two years, “T” has been in our daily thoughts and prayers. We wondered what had happened to her. Then, one morning, I got on Facebook and there she was. A photo of her posted by New Horizons. Two years of prayers were answered in our being able to host her this summer. There are no accidents. There is no chance. It is all God, all His plan.

How they are feeling about hosting:

What kind of an impact will it have on a child to know that she was not forgotten? To know that she is loved, of value and of worth? What an awesome gift for all of us! And it had all been part of God’s amazing plan all along. To say that we are excited about hosting “T” is an understatement. We are over-the-moon thrilled to finally be seeing “T” again.


Josh & Callie Pray

 

Pray FamilyWhat they do:

Pharmacist & Work-at-home Pharmacist Review Editor

Their family:

Three girls, ages 7, 5, & 1

 

Who they are hosting:

A “tween” brother & sister set (“K” & “R”)

How they found out about hosting:

Recently, we have felt called to defend the cause of the fatherless. We’ve heard the overwhelming and disheartening statistics of orphans worldwide. What could we, this family in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma with seemingly already full lives, do to make a difference? And then we heard about orphan hosting…how inviting an orphan into your home for just a few weeks can make a HUGE impact in an orphan’s life. Could we really do this? As we prayed and thought about this incredible opportunity, the question turned more from “Could we do this?” to “How could we NOT do this?” God has blessed our family with so much that we take for granted; how could we NOT take in one child for just a few days to give him or her love and hope when we feel God calling us to do so?

We had no idea how to choose a child from the photolisting of hundreds of orphans wanting to come to America this summer. The regional coordinator from NHFC, who had been wonderfully gracious with all my questions and concerns, suggested some that she felt would do well in our family—one was a particular set of siblings. On the inside I couldn’t help but laugh. TWO orphans? No way! I was just getting used to the idea of ONE…seriously, God? But I was curious. So I looked them up, and immediately my heart skipped a beat or two or a hundred. The truth is that I had seen their pictures earlier that day and stared at them for much longer than any of the others. I began to entertain the idea of hosting these siblings, deliberating over how we could arrange bedrooms, make it work financially, and generally take care of FIVE kids in our home. Yep, with a little creativity and work we could do it. But SHOULD we do it? More prayers ensued. I couldn’t get them off my mind. I thought about it nonstop. I asked Josh what he felt we should do. He said, “I think we should do the RIGHT thing. Let’s go for it.” Bless him. And so we are hosting two pre-teens from Eastern Europe, a brother and sister, who have no idea how much they are already loved and prayed for by this American family who has never met them. After much praying, talking, and speculating as to whether or not we had lost our minds, we decided to step out in faith and say yes! And now on the brink of this new adventure with so many unknowns, we have peace.

How they are feeling about hosting:

I absolutely cannot believe this is really happening. We are SO EXCITED!! We can’t wait to show these kids some love, get to know them, and hopefully learn a lot about their culture and language (I know zero of their language. ZERO! I’ve gotta get on that…). And we want to share our family summer experiences with them – going to the zoo, amusement parks, swimming, etc. Also, we want this wonderful community we live in to be exposed to orphans and the need for loving, Christian families to open their homes and hearts to these kids who are SO brave to come over here alone. Most importantly, we want to share the love of our Heavenly Father with these kids so they know that they are treasured, priceless to Him, and never truly alone.

 

Stay tuned for updates from them all four Featured Families throughout the hosting season!

Ready to Host: Introductions

Part 1 of the Featured Families Series

Summer hosting is about to begin!  Today, several hundred children will be arriving to spend the summer with their host families.  The hosting experience is exciting, exhilarating, and sometimes exhausting.  This year, the NHFC blog will be following four families as they experience hosting for the first time.  Each week, one of the Featured Families will write an update about what their time has been like.  For all of these writers, the hope is that hosting can be represented realistically: all the hard and all the joy, as well as all the reasons why this is one of the most transformative experiences a family can have.
 
Today, we would like to introduce you to the first two of our Featured Families as they start this journey.

 


Jonathon & Jennifer Williams

 

Williams FamilyWhat they do:

Pharmacist and Work-from-home Photographer

Their family:

Two girls, ages 5 & 3 ½ , and one 16 month old boy.

Who they are hosting:

A “tween” brother & sister set (“K” & “A”)

How they found out about hosting:

One day I got an email about hosting an orphan from Eastern Europe so I took the time to learn all I could about why one would want to host, about the benefits of hosting (benefits to the child AND the host family), and it didn’t take us long to realize this was what God wanted us to do. We contacted New Horizons for Children and started pouring over the photo listings of each child available for hosting. Somehow we ended up with two instead of one, so now we are twice as excited!  We are welcoming a brother and a sister into our home for 5 weeks. We are excited to show them about God and His love for them AND that our family/church family/community has a love for them. We want to teach them English and have been working on learning their language as well. Our girls are doing a great job at memorizing words and short sentences…we are just hopeful we are pronouncing them correctly!

How they are feeling about hosting:

Some days I wake up feeling nervous… hopeful and anxious that we will be the best we can be for these two precious kids. Then I stop and remember that God has His hands in this journey. It was His idea for us to do this and God doesn’t make mistakes. Overall we are super excited to meet them and welcome them into our home. We already have pictures of them hanging up on our walls and we talk about them every day–the girls are loving counting down the days until they get here AND until they can introduce K and A to their cousins, who live within 20 minutes of us. We have a few fun things planned such as go see waterfalls, visit the Aquarium, and maybe go tubing. But our main desire is to just do what we normally do: enjoy our home, play outside, care for our garden, feed our chickens/rabbits. We can’t wait to eat on our deck and enjoy the sunset (we love this part of our day!).  We will swim at my parent’s house with cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents and enjoy our Sunday lunch at Nanny’s after Church. Keeping things simple and flexible. We are praying not only for our summer and our host kids, but all the other families and kids involved with this beautiful ministry.


Paul & Virginia Davidson
What they do: Davidson Family

Outdoor Gear Store Owner & elementary Spanish teacher

Their family:

Two girls, ages 6 & 18 months , and one 4 year old boy

Who they are hosting:

A teen brother & sister set (“D” & “K”)

How they found out about hosting:

We heard of NHFC through a few Facebook shares of a friend in Texas (who has never hosted herself yet, but would like to).  One thing God continues to speak to our family is how He is going to change all of us, and we are going to make mistakes.  We are not perfect; only He is.  We are to love, guide, and pray for them while they are here and continue to do so for a lifetime.  The NHFC families we have connected with have been an encouragement and informative as well.

How they are feeling about hosting:

Just a little time before their arrival my stomach is in knots and I wonder what they will think of our family, our home.  As we pick up our toys and shift bedrooms around, I glance at the clock again and add 7 hours.  My mind wanders for a moment, “It’s 5 o’clock, I wonder what they are doing right now.”  My wonders turn into prayers as my children call my name from across the house.  Another prayer is uttered, “Oh Lord, give us wisdom with our 3 children at home, and our 2 host children coming soon.  Give us Your Peace, Joy, and Patience.”

With three young ones at home, we are looking forward to the weeks ahead.  We thank God for the opportunity to be able to open our home this summer.  Our children are excited to share their home and lives with our host children, and they tell every friend they know how excited they are.

We are a family of five that likes to be busy swimming and playing in the backyard pool, as well as taking in the views and activities along our Lake Michigan beaches.  We are looking forward to sharing our outdoor movie nights and silly dance parties with our two host siblings from Eastern Europe this summer.  D and K will join us at a local water park, campfires, soccer games, and evening reading and giggles.  Before hosting, we spent a bit of extra special time with our kids individually to fill them up and prepare their little hearts to share.  In addition, we are moving a bit of furniture and getting our summer to-do list done a bit early to leave open the month of July for birthdays and fun.  So, as the chalkboard countdown in our kitchen reaches closer to their arrival, our excitement grows.

 
 
 Stay tuned to read about our other two Featured Families and get ready for updates from them all throughout the hosting season!

I Found Love: Stories from Host Children

11194770_10153748711787656_1930340443_oThe days are dwindling for summer matching, and 160 children are still waiting to be chosen by a summer host family.

Chosen. It’s a word we hear often, but do we really understand what it means? Several children who have been hosted through New Horizons stepped up and agreed to share what it really means to be chosen.

Being chosen helps kids heal

“I waited four hosting periods [for a family],” said M, a 14-year-old boy who was first hosted in 2013. “When I found out I had been chosen, I was really happy to come to America. I was a really angry person when I left [my country], but I left it in America when I traveled back to [my country]. I felt loved and that someone really cared about me.”

Being chosen helps kids have hope for the future

“Before I was hosted, I thought my future was going to be bad. I thought I could not get a job or go to college. I planned to do whatever I had to do to get money. During hosting, I saw how my host family worked and knew I could do that, too. I knew I wanted to try to get out of [my country] for something better. I would try harder in school so I could get out. [After hosting] I knew my life could be better,” said Y, a 14-year-old girl who was first hosted in 2014.

Being chosen helps kids accept and receive love

“My heart opened up to people. I became more confident in myself,” said R, an 18-year-old young lady who was hosted by an NHFC family for the first time in 2010. “I learned a lot about love and care. I felt needed and important. After hosting my world opened up, and I could see things in a different way from what they were before. My hosting experience left a piece of happiness in my heart which has never left me. I still remember those days!”

Being chosen helps kids understand what family looks like

“There are lots of of orphans all around the world and lots that need a home and a family — a good family, not a bad one which I happened to be in before, “ said S, an 11-year-old girl who was hosted for the first time with her younger brother and sister.

Her 10-year-old sister chimed in and agreed, “It changed my life because I got to live with a family.”

The youngest of the trio, 7-year-old L, said he now knows a little better what to expect of being in a family: “And the mom will give kisses to them.”

Being chosen helps kids feel valuable

“I always had a low self-esteem about myself and thought no one could ever love me and choose me! I also had my hopes lost because I was a teenager, and I always thought that everyone just wants a little kid and no one will want me [because] I was too old to love. The news that someone wants me just changed the whole perspective about myself and gave me the feeling that I’m not forgotten,” said R, an 18-year-old young lady.

Being chosen helps kids make better decisions

“Hosting helps the kids who do bad things try to do better in school and in life. The kids will get to have experiences that they will not get in [my country]. When I went back to [my country] I was so happy that my host family would call me and send me messages. I always checked the computer to see if I had a message. At night I cried because I missed my family so much and I loved them, but I knew they loved me too so it was OK. I really wanted them to host me again!” said 14-year-old Y.

Being chosen changes life trajectories

When we asked M, a 14-year-old boy, what he would tell potential host families about the importance of hosting, he shared his heart openly.

“You are saving their life. My host family and now my forever family saved my life. Every child in [my country] should have the chance to be loved. I found love, and I hope other people can give children a chance.”

Being chosen changes hearts and changes lives forever

“I am staying in touch with my host families just because they have given me and shown me the first taste of the experience being hosted,” said R, an 18-year-old young lady. “I met one of my host families two summers ago and had an amazing time together. We still plan to meet each other [again] one day soon! I thanked my host families for the opportunity they have given me and for making my world brighter. They gave me the taste of love and care I needed, and they have changed my life in a way. They have really made an impact in my life, and I want them to know that it wasn’t just a waste of time; it really made a change, and they have a place in my heart.”

Your turn: Choose to change a child’s life

The days are dwindling for summer matching, and 160 children are still waiting to be chosen by a summer host family. To have a coordinator call you or see the waiting children please click here.

Interviewed and compiled by Hyacynth Worth

The Joy of Uncomfortable Love

By Hyacynth Worth

11171709_10100473422913795_1952546963_o

If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t completely comfortable with the thought of hosting an orphan in our home for a month.

And if I’m continuing in honesty, I’m still not completely comfortable.

Hosting asks a lot of us.

It asks us to trust in God’s tug on our hearts and in his leading.

It asks us to set aside our fears.

It asks us to rely heavily on God for all kinds of provision — financial, emotional, spiritual and physical.

Essentially hosting asks us to love someone else, someone we don’t know and who might not be able to love us in return in the way we desire, more than we love ourselves.

And all of that? Well, all of that’s uncomfortable.

Hosting aside for a moment, let’s get comfortable with the idea that the deep kind of love Jesus lavishes and asks us to lavish on others rarely makes us comfortable.

“You love as well as you are willing to be inconvenienced.” Ann Voskamp

Think about it. Jesus’ love for us, the kind of love that went to death and back, the kind of healing and sustaining and life-giving love he offers, was not easy coming for him.

It required great inconvenience, great humility and great discomfort.

I ponder my deeply vested relationships, the kind where this inconvenient love has been brought to the table and I realize that my greatest healing and my greatest growth has occurred in its envelopment.

The people who have loved me well have given of their time and themselves, sacrificed one thing or another to invest their energy into me.

Real love, the kind of love that heals us, requires of us more than just lip service, more than casual interactions of help and more than good intentions.

It takes a willingness to show up and invest our own personal resources — our time, our money, our undivided attention, our listening ears, our willing embraces.

And all of this has cost. It costs us big to really love someone.

But it’s how we have been loved by a God who never had to love us but instead chose to love us. It’s how we have been asked to love others.

So back to hosting.

While we’re being honest, our last hosting was a hard hosting. We didn’t spend a lot of time in our comfort zones. Each of us spent time battling fear, nursing vulnerability hangovers and fighting to continue connecting even through the hardships and the conflicts.

There’s nothing comfortable about this kind of love.

But there’s so much right, so much good, so much beauty born of it.

Our love was never a perfect kind of love. It didn’t come without mistakes or tears or even apologies, but it came with one thing: a willingness.

“The only thing God asks of me every day is to show up and bring my little bit of willingness.” Lysa TerKeurst

We are so much richer for having loved this way; we are so much more bonded to our host daughter for having done the hard love with each other. We can now talk about the things in life that really matter. A trust has been built and healing has begun and God is making new things from the old.

This love, it’s a hard, uncomfortable kind of love, yes.

But it’s a right kind of love. A true kind of love. A greatest kind of love.

 ”There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:13

We lay down our lives for others in the truest sense when we are willing to risk vulnerability, discomfort, inconvenience and even rejection to love someone.

If God’s been breaking your heart for the orphans who break His, let’s be willing to do three things this summer:

1. Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable because Love once was uncomfortable for each of us.

2. Let’s show up and allow God to use our little bit of willingness and watch Him supply us with the rest.

3. Let’s live like heirs of God.

“The most important thing we can understand about God is that he wants us and he loves us … And while we were still orphans, God came for us. Romans 8:17 says, ‘Now if we are His children then we are heirs.’ It just gets better and better! …

Does this all mean we just go to bed with a smile on our faces? Not if we understand what it means to be an heir. All that God’s given you, all God is to you, we have to carry on as His heir. To be God’s heir means we carry on the legacy of being wanted.

We go into the margins, the fringes, and we want the people He wants.” Pastor Josh Petersen, Selfie: Wanted

Hyacynth Worth is a three-time host mom. She lives with her husband and two boys in the suburbs of Chicago. She also writes about life and love at www.undercovermother.com

Unexpected Blessings

By Marty Shoup

Hosting experiences come in all shapes and sizes.  We plan and pray, but the reality is the Lord’s…and it is always far better than what we could have imagined.

Our first hosting was in the summer of 2011.  And it was… ok.  Not great, not bad. Just ok. But overall, it went well enough that we knew we wanted to host another child the following summer.

When the winter photo-listing was released, we of course poured over it.  We would look at photos, read bios, and pray for the kids on the list. We would check back every so often to see who went on hold and whether any new kids were added—but never with the intention of looking for someone to host.

IMGP3279However, as He usually does, the Lord had other plans.  We “stumbled” across a photo of “M”, a teenage boy. Well, a man, really. I wish I could say I embraced the idea of hosting a teenager right away. But I didn’t. Our children at home (both boys) were at the time, 7 and 5, which is a FAR CRY from teenagerdom. But the Lord kept nudging. I ignored it for a while.

“I don’t know anything about teenage boys other than that they eat and sleep!”
“We don’t even have any friends with teenagers!”
“We don’t have teenage stuff! We have Legos and Matchbox and play Memory and Chutes and Ladders!”
“He’ll be so BORED! We live in the middle of nowhere!”
“We’re driving halfway across the country for Christmas. He’s SO not going to want to do that!”
“He’s practically a grown man, what if he’s impatient or aggressive with my kids?”
“What if… you know… well, you hear all these horror stories about kids who grow up in orphanages. What if he’s been abused… and what does that mean for MY kids?”

Oh, I had LOTS of excuses.  But they amounted to very little. We kept feeling the pull, and chose to host “M” that winter, and it was fantastic!

He was great with my kids! He played soccer with them, made cup towers and domino courses, and took a 2,500-mile road trip like a champ. Yes, he slept a lot, and he ate a lot (though nothing green), IMGP3173and he was AMAZED that you could get free refills and all the ketchup you wanted at Wendy’s. He brought us a Christmas present from his country and we were able to bless him with gifts as well.  We walked through Google maps together and “M” showed me where he lived, as well as pictures of famous landmarks in his city. I learned about Christmas and New Year’s practices from the other side of the world, and he experienced some of our quirky family holiday traditions. “M” was nearly fluent in English, but we learned (and butchered) bits and pieces of his national language as well.

It was an AMAZING 4 weeks, and it went by way too quickly.

We’ve kept in touch since then, messaging back and forth on social media, keeping track of what was going on in each other’s lives, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, etc. It’s been a joy to be able to maintain that relationship, even though he’s 5,000 miles away.

“M” was set to “graduate” the summer of 2014.  And that spring, over Facebook, he asked if we could come to watch him graduate.

We couldn’t all go, but I could.  And so I did. At the heartfelt request of my host son from 3 ½ years before, I flew to Eastern Europe to watch him graduate.  I couldn’t understand a word of the ceremony, but that didn’t matter.  I didn’t know any of the traditions or customs (by the way they don’t play Pomp and Circumstance), but that didn’t matter either.

I was there. Supporting him. Encouraging him. Cheering his accomplishment. Doing what family does.

It was an experience I’ll never forget.

People are often hesitant to host teenagers- especially teenage boys.  I get it. I was there, too. They’re like a different species, sometimes. And if you don’t have experience with teens, well… the very idea of having one in your home can be intimidating.

But oh, what I would have missed if I’d let my fear and worries guide my decision.

You’ll often hear host parents say that they went into hosting to be a blessing to a child in need, but that they came out of the experience as the ones who were blessed.  Truer words were never spoken, and I have an extra stamp in my passport to prove it.

Don’t discount those older kids on the photo-listing. They are blessings just waiting to happen.

Interested in hosting a teen boy or another child this summer? If you have not already signed up for the photolistings you can do so here and your regional coordinator will contact you to answer any questions you may have.

 

 Marty and her husband have two children and are three-time host parents. Marty began volunteering for NHFC in 2012 and currently serves as Board chair.

Finding Faith to Love

By Guest Blogger Natalie Meeks

Meeks013web“But what if I can’t love him enough?”

The October morning is balmy, the grass is soft and dewy, and I pace, bare footed. I’m flushed with fear and anxiety.  I dial her number, and when our hosting coordinator answers, the question tumbles out before I can order my tongue to cease and desist.  Our coordinator breathes reassurance and Gospel-words into my ear.

“Natalie, you can do what God calls you to do.  You are not called to heal him. You are called to provide a safe place for him to heal.”

Exhale.

Knowing the truth of His calling doesn’t eliminate my fear of the unknown. Not for this weak-minded woman. We have five young children at home. My husband works relentless hours. My plate is full and my heart, ever so much more so. Where will I find room for an orphan who needs me to love him?

I agonize and I pray. I pray on bare knees in the early dark, while chauffeuring kids to and fro, while bouncing a baby girl on my hip. I pray.

And, as He ever will, God answers.  We love because he first loved us.  We commit to hosting.

November storms past in a fury and December marks herself boldly onto my calendar squares. And finally it is the day our host child arrives.  The children are excited, nervous. We kiss the three youngest goodbye, and hurry to the airport to greet a child who has agreed to come to spend Christmas in America with an unknown family. A child whom we have chosen, but who has not chosen us; a child who has not been chosen by the very parents ordained to bear and raise him.

I am afraid. I pray.

The airport arrivals lounge is large and bright. White shines everywhere, the ceiling and floor scored geometrically by cheerful colored patterns. We have rushed all day, all month. Now, we wait.

The children begin to stream in and the excitement builds. Posters are raised, brightly proclaiming Eastern European names that I cannot pronounce and pasted with photos of beautiful children. We lift our poster high, with our gift of a soccer ball and snack at the ready, and we hold our breaths.

He arrives. I watch as he cautiously approaches. His hair is shorter than in his picture, he is taller than I imagined, and he is broken. Exhausted from 20 hours of travel, overwhelmed by the sight of this new family in a new country, speaking a foreign language. He buckles. His tears flow and my heart aches to comfort him. This little-big boy has walls that I don’t know how to climb and I pray. Lord, show me how to reach him. He bravely and obediently follows us out of the airport, into the big wide world of America, and we walk to the car to begin our two-hour drive home. I worry and I pray.

My oldest two children’s eyes watch wide as he climbs into the backseat. A new world has opened up to them and they are unsure how to respond. We cruise in the dark under the city lights and I relax as I see his eyes close, head leant against the window. Sleep. Yes, sleep child. You must be so tired. Then I hear the sound. Do all mothers know the sound? The peculiar cough… Oh please, Lord, please let it not be vomit…

God’s ways are not our own.

We pull to the side of the road and I dash into the back to assess and tend. He looks full at me for the first time. Helpless, his beautiful eyes are wide and desperate. My hands reach for his soiled fingers, and I plead unspoken if I may? He nods. I cradle his hands while I clean them, his face, his shirt. He relaxes into me. Walls crumble, and he accepts this meager mama-nursing effort as one that he can trust. And I pray.  Lord, thank you for the vomit.

The irony does not escape me.

A month flies and this child-without-family becomes an integral part of our family in the most miraculous and mysterious of ways. Each smile, each laugh, each hug extend roots which lengthen and strengthen.  Shy grins and giggles between children give way to trust and camaraderie and Gospel-brotherhood. We fall head over heals and he soaks it in. Daily, his smile grows wider and his chuckle comes more easily. He hugs and he loves and he joins in their silly pranks. He makes mistakes and he apologizes and he basks in childhood with all of the grace it offers. He melds into us, and we into him. And then, all too soon, he leaves. And we grieve. But most of all, we pray.

Is it possible to love a child too much? Of course the answer is a resounding no. Love multiplies and the Father who first loved us has filled our hearts so overflowing for one of His own: for an orphan who is fatherless, but never Fatherless. He, and we, all are loved by a God who is enough and who loves enough.

We don’t know what God’s plan is for our beloved host child. But we know that His plan is Love and it is Enough.

Interested in taking a leap of faith to host this summer? If you have not already signed up for the photolistings you can do so here and your regional coordinator will contact you to answer any questions you may have.

 

Natalie resides in South Carolina with her husband and five children.  They are eagerly awaiting the return of their host child this summer.

Chosen

by guest blogger Melody B

Many of us can remember the dilemma of being chosen – or not – when we were lined up for the ritual of choosing teams.  There were two “captains” and the rest of the group just waited to be chosen, hoping – and praying – that we would not be the last one chosen.  Everyone wanted to be chosen first.  And that just couldn’t happen.  The good athletes seemed to always be chosen first.  Then by the end, the little ones with not much athletic skill were finally called…. Everyone wanted to win, so there was jockeying going on trying to choose the best team that could win.  The “captains” tried to call out the names of those who would help their team to success. Except for one – there was one boy who saw things the rest of us didn’t.  He chose the little ones first – the ones who didn’t seem to have a lot of talent, who always got chosen last.  And something amazing happened.  His team usually won.  There was a transformation in these kids that was a sight to behold – they rallied, they worked, they were energized, and they were successful because someone believed in them enough to choose them first – not the usual last.

We all want to be chosen – whether for the promotion, employee of the year, the first violin seat in the orchestra.  There is a secret – well, not really a secret – but many people don’t know it.  We’ve all already been chosen by Jesus – our strength and our redeemer.  He chose us.  He continues to choose us, and we must tell others they have already been chosen.

The young people on the host list– all of them want to be chosen.  They want to know someone would choose them to be hosted – choose them to be a part of the summer hosting family.  And they need to be chosen – because they need to be told that Jesus chose them long before they were born.  He chose them at the cross.  Many want to host, many can’t host.  But many can provide a way for them to be chosen financially.  Would you choose today to help one of the kids on the listing? Your gift would provide scholarship money to help another family choose to host them.

 

Donations can be made through our You Caring site now through Feb 16th for DOUBLE scholarship funds. We are off to a great start! Hurry before the matching funds are gone!
Click here to donate: http://tinyurl.com/q733bw4
If you have not already signed up for the photolistings you can do so here: http://tinyurl.com/pvdkeno

Blessings from the Great Provider

By Guest Blogger Rev. Greg Gunn

GingerbreadAnd my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

 

 

 

The Philippians understood generosity! The Philippians practiced generosity! This early, struggling group of believers was aware of a great truth: God’s people are givers.

The Bible teaches that the apostle Paul was on a mission to share the good news of the gospel with others and to do the hard work of establishing churches. God blessed Paul’s work and it was rich with success, but the work was not always easy.  Paul experienced tremendous challenges while serving the Lord. The scriptures teach that Paul endured beatings, shipwreck, hunger, and a myriad of other challenges. The needs of the mission were massive and Paul’s resources were often scant.

The good news is that God always has the way and one of the ways God provided for Paul was through the church at Philippi. The believers at Philippi came alongside Paul and supported and provided for him as he worked tirelessly to serve the Lord. In fact, so generous were those same believers that they continued their support of Paul’s work even after he departed and went on to serve elsewhere! The Philippians understood and practiced Christian generosity.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he expresses deep gratitude for their obedience to the Lord and for their gifts. In chapter four of Philippians, Paul teaches a rock solid Biblical truth: giving to the Lord’s work is not just a benefit to the recipient, but it is a blessing to the giver and the giver can be sure that God will in turn provide their own needs.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

This is one of the glorious mysteries of God’s economy – as we give cheerfully and generously to the Lord’s work, we are actually the ones who are blessed! God’s word promises that he will supply every one of my needs.

As I prayed through and pondered Philippians 4:14-19, two things came to my mind. First, I am reminded that Christian giving is not an expense; it is an investment – a great investment! All great investments have one thing in common: great returns. When I give generously and invest in the work of the Lord, I have the promise that God will take care of my needs and use my giving to accomplish His purposes. Second, I am reminded that Christian giving is an act of worship and a shout out of my Christian confession. My possessions (including my money) are not for my purposes, they are for HIS purposes. As a steward of the good things God has provided, it is an exciting journey for my family to give generously to things like our church, to missions, and to host orphans through New Horizons for Children.

God’s people are givers. Join the adventure of giving and watch God be faithful to His promise of supplying all your needs.

 

Rev. Gunn is a member of the NHFC board of directors and pastor at Providence Church in Spring Hill, Florida. He and his wife, Aimee, are looking forward to sharing their home with a host daughter from Ukraine this holiday season.

On Stretching Our Dollars: #GivingTuesday

IMG_4589It has come upon us again: the time of year when we give thanks and then go shopping.  My internet surfing has been inundated by Black Friday deals extended for a few more days, Cyber Monday discounts piling up, and Facebook countdowns of the number of shopping days until Christmas.

It is easy to get caught up in it all and run after the latest deal.  Or to lament the state of our society that we so quickly turn to consumerism after consuming a family meal.

But I think that there’s a middle ground.

I imagine my son opening up the gift I went out to buy early Friday morning.  He’s going to love it.  Seeing that joy is one of my favorite things about the holiday season.  I can’t wait until Christmas morning.  And I’m really thankful that there was a deal that turned something unaffordable and not within my budget into a very special gift that I could bless him with.

Setting aside a time that allows you to stretch your money is actually a pretty great idea.

I think the key is to remember what you are stretching your money FOR.  Is it to be able to get more “stuff” with the same amount of cash, or is it to be able to purchase something really special  that you would not have been able to otherwise afford?  Is it to increase your own pile of things, or to bring joy to others?  Is it creating greed and selfishness in your heart, or joy and excitement?

I love being able to bless in the holiday season, and I like that I get this opportunity to do it more effectively.

And that’s why I’m so excited about #GivingTuesday.  This year, Tuesday has been set aside to do a different kind of stretching with our dollars.  To bless in ways other than with physical presents.  To bring joy in tangible ways.

It’s an opportunity for us to work together to make what would be unattainable on our own into a very special gift for others.

#GivingTuesday is a day to give to charitable organizations.  And this year, New Horizons for Children has a special “deal” so that we can reach a goal that is beyond what we can each do with our individual budgets:

Thanks to a corporate sponsor, every dollar given on #GIVINGTUESDAY will be matched up to $5000! 

How many of us went out this weekend and bought something that was 50% off?  How many of us were excited to get something that was otherwise out of our price range?

On #GivingTuesday, we can do something together that will be a gift none of us could afford on our own.  It’s a deal that will bring joy and hope and help.  If we all work together, we can raise $10,000 in a day.

That is a stretching of a dollar that fills my heart with more excitement than a deal on a video game or a toy or television ever could.

And taking advantage of this deal on #GivingTuesday means that New Horizons for Children will be halfway to its year-end goal of filling its Bright Future Fund with $20,000.  These funds will be used to support the mission trips that NHFC has planned to our current host countries, but more importantly, it will be used to reach a new country in Eastern Europe.

A whole new country of orphans in need.  A whole new country of children able to have arms wrapped around them and songs sung to them and love poured into them.  A whole new country of hearts waiting to hear the love of God.

That is a gift I want to give this holiday season.  It’s a deal that is bigger than any I got on the presents that will be under my tree this Christmas.

It’s a gift that will resonate in eternity.

All funds donated now through midnight Tuesday will be doubled, up to $5000.  To participate in #GivingTuesday, donate to the Bright Future Fund, go here:  www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/bright-future-fund/269050

 Veldorah Rice is a three-time host parent and a volunteer for New Horizons for Children.  You can find her at www.hexagonalpeg.com

Love Isn’t

By Guest Blogger Hyacynth Worth

10580625_10153219896747656_1058652545_nLove isn’t always an easy road; but it’s always a worthwhile one. Just ask Jesus.

God knows where each of us would be without His extravagant love that came all the way down from His high place to dwell among us. God knows where we would be without Immanuel, without God with us.

How powerful that the Maker of the Universe would come to us from perfection to live in an imperfect world and love imperfect people. And all out of love. There’s something quite powerful about being with someone, about walking with someone.

Most of us can name people who walk closely with us in our lives, and for many of us those names are the people in our families. And we know the kinds of impacts these people have had in our lives! What a gift!

Perhaps God is inviting you into this kind of extravagant love this Christmas season; perhaps God is inviting your family to give the gift of family, the gift of having someone to walk with to a child who doesn’t have a family.

Maybe you’ve read about hosting an orphan or know someone who has and don’t know much more … and perhaps something calls to you about opening your own home and sharing your own family with a child who doesn’t have one of his or her own.

But maybe the reality is that you’re still on the fence about hosting. There are so many reasons that tempt us to toss the idea out of our minds because honestly it can seem daunting or even impossible.

Before you let the thought fade, though, here are six reasons you may want to consider allowing God to show you that He specializes in making the impossible possible, just like He did the very first Christmas when Jesus was born.

6) It’s Heartwarming

Hosting a child from another country who doesn’t have a family is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. As we shared Christmas and all of the traditions that accompany our advent and Christmas celebrations, I witnessed so much beautiful interactions between our host daughter and our young boys, then 6 and 4. My children thoughtfully included her into our traditions and she in turn embraced our family and our traditions eagerly. Watching the love grow between all of our members in our family with a complete stranger turned family member has forever changed my heart and has reminded me that Christmas is about love — God’s great love for us in sending His son to us.

5) It’s Eye-Opening

Before our host daughter came to live with us for a month, I knew there were orphans. But I didn’t think about them because I didn’t see orphans on a daily basis. They were not even on my radar. But then I held her in my arms. And I knew her name. And I loved her in a way I cannot explain. And orphans then became to me people instead of numbers I had read in statistics. We can ignore numbers. We couldn’t ignore Eta. Or Vika. Or Alina. Or Nauris. Or any of the number of other children we’ve come across during hosting.

4) It’s Inspiring

Our host daughter boarded an airplane in her native country and traveled across the Atlantic via plane for the first time to spend a month with a family she’d never met and who didn’t even speak the same language. And she was only 12 years old. When we first met our beautiful host daughter, she looked completely bewildered and overwhelmed. We quickly learned that hugs and laughter translate well into any language. As we settled into life during the first few hours and then days of her visit, I was inspired by her resilience and her desire to receive and give love despite all of the disappointments and hardships she’d faced in her short life. I recalled the feeling of terror I’d experienced before hosting began about welcoming a stranger into our family and recalled how others had said we were so brave for doing this. As I watched our host daughter strive to make heart connections, I realized bravery was involved in hosting — but most of it was needed by the children being hosted! After all, we were in our own home, with our own families, speaking our own language. Talk about bravery! These children are so courageous, and our host daughter showed me that I could live and love courageously, too.

3) It’s Humbling

The world is so much bigger, so much more vast than what I can see when I’m looking at what’s before me. I recall days when I thought and lived like the world revolved around me and my small family. When we met our host daughter I began to realize on a greater scale just how small I am and just how vast the world is. My children also began to grasp the smallest realizations of just how big our world is and how great the needs. We’ve realized as a family that while we cannot nearly meet the worlds great needs, we can do something. No one can do everything; but everyone can do something. We have learned that while we cannot save the world we can go where our deep passion meets the world’s great need. And we have taken to heart a great perspective from Andy Stanley: “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

2) It’s Perspective Altering

Though we’d read James 1:27 many times — “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” — we didn’t really understand it until our host daughter came into our lives. We then began understanding how God wants us to love and how God loves us. Orphans have no standing in the world — they have nothing with which to repay for the love, time and effort. This is the way God loves us — though we have nothing to offer him but our hearts, he loves us and cares for us as His own.

1) It’s Life-changing

People have often mused about how we’ve changed our host daughter’s life for the better. And I know this is true without a doubt. We loved her with every ounce of love we had and then some —  often praying and asking God to multiply our efforts in only a way He could deep within her heart. I know we’ve given her a picture of what it means to be welcomed into a family and what it means to be part of a family. I know we’ve made a difference in her life, and our love has been tattooed on her heart.

But you know what else? God used her and hosting to change our lives … to change our hearts. Our family has had our collective heart broken for children who don’t have families. Even our young sons at ages 5 and 7 are vested in praying.  When discussing if we should host again our oldest son exclaimed, “Yes! Of course! Every kid needs a family!”

 

May we know more than His name this Christmas; may we know the love of God with us, and may we emulate His love in our very lives.

Hyacynth Worth lives with her husband John and their two boys in a northern suburb of Chicago. They have hosted twice with New Horizons For Children. Hyacynth writes at www.UndercoverMother.com about family, faith and the intersection of it all.