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When Good Intentions Fall Short

by Sherri McClurg, PsyD
You’ve seen and heard the stories. According to the, at least 30% of lives trafficked internationally are children with those from the Caribbean, Central America, and Eastern Europe at the top of the list. These children are being exploited for slavery and/or sex. According to UNICEF, 1 billion children live in poverty with little access to food and education.
Precious, young lives, suffering worldwide.

Poverty and lack of education are huge contributing factors to the risk of exploitation, but at the core of such destitution is a  lack of respect and value for all humanity. If we saw everyone through the eyes of Jesus, there would be no place for such things.

As Christians, we hear these stories of poverty, abuse, and the hardship these children go through and our hearts are moved, and we want to respond.

But before you give another dime, stop. Please use caution and be wise with your gift.

Don’t just give your money, resources, or time to a cause because you were moved by the story… Yes, let your heart be moved, but then pray and do a little bit of digging to make sure you help that cause by giving to an organization you can trust. Give to a non-profit that will not only maintain the highest in financial integrity stateside (ECFA accredited), but also one that distributes money and resources with integrity internationally.

I’ll never forget the sadness that engulfed me when I saw street-side vendors in Africa making money off the supplies sent over by mission groups that were meant for children in poverty. Megan Boudreaux’s wonderful book “Miracle on Voodoo Mountain,” shares about a director who called himself a pastor and doctor and used the money sent by numerous churches in America to buy and sell children, but because she was there and visited regularly she was able to detect the scam. There are too many stories of those who exploit the situation of the children for their own personal gain.

It’s easy to get lulled into giving directly to an orphanage, but sadly, some have little to no accountability to make sure it actually benefits the children. Donor’s often fear that participating in a program with a staff or overhead somehow limits the gift, but in reality, it not only protects the gift, it protects the children.

When there is no accountability, no process for monitoring use of funds, and no oversight by a staff held accountable by policies and oversight you risk:

  • Programs and churches giving cash to orphanages with good intentions, but no accountability for how that money is spent. Many non-profits flood 3rd world missions or international orphanages with cash that never makes it past those in charge, and it doesn’t improve the quality of life for the children.
  • Children becoming a commodity versus a person of value and worth loved by God. Excellent mission trips and hosting programs realize it’s not about “saving” or “trying to make them like us.” It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus and coming alongside children, their caregivers, and their community to build into their lives, based on their circumstances, not ours.
  • Shortcuts to save on expenses that erode child safety. Being ignorant of or trying to bypass government permissions or laws or slacking off on safeguards might make the red tape easier, but it risks the lives and safety of the children.

Be angry about the victimization of innocent children. Let your heart be broken for children that are being starved, beaten, and enslaved daily …. and realize that well meaning non-profits and ministries inadvertently contribute to that every day.

Be angry and choose a way to help that ensures your gift, your contribution, your time, your sacrifice is really going towards helping a hurting child. Don’t give blindly just because it pulls at your heart. Make sure the organization is trustworthy and holds to the highest standards for how it manages your gift.

New Horizons for Children is one you can trust.


  • Maintains the highest level of financial integrity. Our staff and volunteers work around the clock to care for children, families, and orphanages and maintain the highest levels of integrity and accountability in everything we do. Every dollar is accounted for and not only detailed for taxes but also put through an independent financial audit each year, and held to the standards of ECFA and Guidestar.
  • NHFC never gives money to orphanages without explicit guidelines and tracking accountability that the money has been used accordingly. There is too much at risk when money is just handed over. Follow up and accountability ensure the children are being cared for as desired with the gifts.
  • NHFC doesn’t give to every orphanage or orphan cause we encounter. We vet our orphanages, visit repeatedly, and build relationships with caregivers before we begin to help meet needs through specific gifts.
  • NHFC never bribes. No donor money is ever handed over to a politician, a director, or anyone involved in the system to gain access to the children. We work to build relationships and partnerships that are based on mutual trust and integrity.
  • NHFC doesn’t take short cuts that compromise child safety – we won’t fly children unaccompanied on an airplane, we don’t skip background checks on all adults involved with the kids, and we never forego training with our parents/caregivers or mission teams about how to carry out this mission.

We give you our word, and we can back that up. Our team is here to ensure that we are working how to serve best interests of the child and continue to seek out how to do it better. Our goal is to share Jesus and improve the lives of children. Together, we can all make a difference.

Please let your heart be distressed by the plight of vulnerable children. See like Jesus. But also make sure you ask hard questions and hold everyone to the highest standards so that your gift is actually used to care for the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of the children. Their lives may very well depend on it.


Dr. Sherri McClurg

Dr. Sherri McClurg serves as the CEO and oversees operations. Sherri has a doctorate in clinical psychology and worked for many years with youth who have experienced trauma. She has a private practice and also serves with Maxwell Leadership on the President’s Advisory Council.

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