Meet Angyalka from Romania

Consider Angyalka, now 14, born into a family finally of six children with the mother gone, the father jailed, the children alone in a house that was once a house of two small rooms but by the time she knew what a house could be this was only wood hanging at random angles and the winter wind was whistling in through the holes where windows once were unbroken, windows now gone, walls of holes, no food and she felt the need and the instinct to protect her brothers but she was too young, too young.

This young girl says she has clothes at this Kidstown supported children’s home in Romania, she has food, she goes to school. Four of her brothers, one older, three younger, also live at the home. They have all been rescued.

“Here is better,” she says. Her goal for the future? “I would like to be a hairdresser. I would like one child, a girl. I would like to be a mother who — I don’t want to leave my child as my mother left us. I don’t know what goals for my child. I would like her to feel good. I am a person who helps people. I would like to help my kid. When we are here, I take my little brother to school.”

Here’s what this Kidstown supported children’s home leader in Romania writes in a note: “Their house was in a terrible situation. They lived in an old house with 2 rooms with 7 persons. The father received money from the government to build a house. He gets building materials from the local council, but he sells it. The father was aggressive and he was in prison for 2 years. The children visit him, with their mother. Once their mother decided to go with another man and she let the children alone. The youngest was 4 years old, the oldest 13 years. The only girl was 10 and she tried to take care of her brothers. They went regularly to school. The social worker from the village tried to place the children in a good place.”

I’ve seen the house, two rooms, roof shingles chipped or missing, foundation crumbled, half or more of the stucco walls fallen away, nothing behind it, mold all around, uninhabitable. Uninhabitable, but not so long ago inhabited by a family of children. – C.R. Roberts


Snahakunja Short Film

Check out our new short film of one of the homes we support.


December 2016 Executive Director Update

So much has happened over the last few months in the KidstownInternational world, that I thought it might be time for a quick update and to look to the future with needs.

First of all, I wanted to say thank you for all of you that helped with our “#GivingTuesday” and our “Christmas Gift for Every Child” campaigns. We are now able to make sure that every child within our Kidstown supported homes has a gift and Christmas celebration! The children feel so blessed because of this.

In October, a team went to Romania and visited three Kidstown supported Homes while spending time with some amazing Kids. They had the opportunity to get to know the children, where they live, and also see the challenging situations where many of them came from. Our group was blessed with taking one group of kids to a castle, a park and ending the day at McDonald’s. For these children a visit to McDonald’s happens maybe once every two years unlike many children here in America. Thank you for all of your support with sponsorship of these children!

There are two groups traveling to India and Nepal next week and we ask for prayers! Please pray for protection during their travels and for clarity in seeing the vision of Kidstown, rescuing children from poverty, abandonment and being orphaned. Seeing these homes and the children first hand, changes one’s perspective of the world and what is truly important. These two weeks will change lives for both the children and our teams.

Much is happening overseas in India and Nepal that continue to make life difficult for many children as the need to rescue them grows daily. The governments in India and Nepal persecute many of our homes with regulations not required of other homes in the region. In India specifically, religions other than Hindi are not given equal opportunity and simple things like banking and getting food supplies are made difficult. Please pray for safety, as one of our homes must pack up and move from their home to avoid insurgents who have kidnapped the home leaders on multiple occasions and demanded ransom be paid for their return. They will relocate to a safer region at much cost and sadness in leaving friend. Safety is first and moving cannot be avoided. The sad thing is that these things happen often and we are powerless to help, but by prayer, so please help in lifting up these homes.

We are working hard to catch up with a back log of new children needing sponsorship. As we celebrate the Birth of Christ, this is also a time to think of giving. Our goal is to have every child sponsored in our Kidstownsupported homes and you can help by sharing the story of Kidstown with just one other person this holiday season. At Christmas dinner or with family visiting in the next few weeks. Just share the story of a rescued child you sponsor and God will do the rest as their hearts are touched. We are advocates for these kids. Join with me in stepping out as child advocates in saving lives in 2017.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!


KI welcomes new Director

About seven weeks ago we informed you that Kidstown was in a time of transition. I am pleased to inform you that things are going well! This is evidence of God’s grace.

Chuck Valley and family Central to this process, of course, is the transfer of the leadership mantle to Chuck Valley, whom we introduced to you in the first press release. I have known Chuck for about 18 years; 10 of these in the context of working together for Kidstown. Chuck and his wife Pam live in the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area. They have two grown sons: Brian and Michael. Chuck and Pam are committed Christians, active in both church and community outreach.

Over the years I have watched Chuck develop in his knowledge, skills, and abilities. One thing, however, has remained largely unchanged: his heart for orphans. Anyone who has met Chuck will know that, within 15 minutes of talking with him, the conversation will invariably turn to helping kids. Chuck’s heart brims with this desire! This is evidence – at least in my book – of a divinely planted calling to stand in the gap for “the least of these”.

Chuck is a capable administrator, a good communicator, and an effective advocate. He has learned much about Kidstown over the years, in regards to both its mission and its methods. On this foundational knowledge he will build as he leads Kidstown into its next chapter. There is no other person I would rather have at Kidstown’s helm than Chuck, and as of April 1st, he is officially the new Executive Director of the organization.

I am committed to assisting Chuck as he moves into this role. For the next few months we will be working closely together, and beyond that I have offered to be available as he has need. It is our mutual goal to navigate this time in such a way so as to induce as few “waves” as possible. We want our Kidstown family to feel secure during this process. We covet your prayers, and are thankful to each of you for your on-going support – whether via finances, encouragement, or prayer.

A few logistical points to mention: Kidstown’s mailing address will remain the same. Please continue to send donations and correspondence to the same Bellingham address that you have used all of these years. Our phone number, web address, and Facebook address will likewise remain the same. If you would like to welcome Chuck to the team, or have any questions or concerns, you can contact him at chuck@kidstown.org. I’m sure that he will cherish your encouragement and will want to meet you in-person in the days ahead.

May the Lord bless each of you abundantly for your heart for orphans and for your faithfulness in supporting Kidstown. It has been a blessing knowing and working with you these last 16 years.

Sincerely,

Matthew Smith


Practical Christianity

"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me." (Matthew 25:35-36)

Kolkata (sometimes better known as Calcutta) is a chaotic, huge, and very densely-populated city in NE India. Once a key center during British colonial rule, Calcutta has a rich and important history. William Carrey, the famous linguist and Bible translator, and Mother Teresa also spent significant time here.

But more than the history or personalities that have highlighted Calcutta over the years is the struggle that millions here experience as their reality each and every day. Poverty, pollution, contaminated water, malnutrition, disease, and homelessness all feed into the current of this dark stream.

Among perhaps the most neglected of Calcutta's downtrodden are those with HIV. Ostracized by family and society, how do these people survive? Where do they go? Who will care for them?

Fortunately for a couple dozen such kids, a man lovingly nicknamed "mama" has stepped forward. Once petrified of HIV, he now deeply loves the infected children under his care. This, along with an emphasis on nutrition, rest, and holistic living is bearing fruit and these kids are really blossoming! They are going to school, learning English, playing the violin and mandolin, and making (and selling) crafts. They are just like any other kids.

Practical Christianity. This is what "mama" is living out.

Something is bothering me, however. It's not "mama", or the kids at the orphanage, or the facility. What's bothering me is the line up of HIV infected kids that are waiting for admission to the orphanage. "Mama" looks at me asking for the OK to bring them in, but due to the number of kids that we already are trying to find sponsors for, I hesitated to give him the green light.

Here's the thing: most of us that are reading this have been blessed, at least to some degree, financially. Doesn't mean we are rich, but we're also not living in a Calcutta slum. We have enough to get by, and then some.

Here's the rub, however: practical Christianity points to reaching out and helping the orphan, the hungry, the homeless. Are we doing that? Yes. But could we do more?

That's the challenge I would like to throw out there. We've got the photos and stores of a handful of kids on our website (https://kidstown.org/children). These are kids that need a helping hand, that need a friend, that need some prayer. Not a big thing, but a meaningful thing. Perhaps you will consider helping one of these kids, or forwarding this email to a friend or family member who might?

Practical Christianity. May this be something each of us strives to live out - on a regular basis - and in an increasing manner.


I will not!

For those of you who have been to India, or have read about it, you know that it is a country filled with diversity. The plains of Tamil Nadu, the endless rice fields of Andhra, the rolling hills of Orissa, the majestic Himalayan foothills of Northern West Bengal, the pineapple groves spread across the hillsides in Assam…India is a land of great geographic diversity.

Akin to the geographic diversity are the vast number of cultures and languages that pepper the country. With somewhere around 2,500 distinct people groups speaking some 1,600 languages and dialects, India is truly an ethno-kaleidoscope!

But not only does India possess great geographic and cultural diversity, it is also a land which espouses a great diversity of gods. Hinduism ranks among the top religions in the world in terms of adherents. The caste system, karma, yoga, and reincarnation are all terms which find their source and meaning within the Hindu context. Hindu deities are many, and allegiances to these deities may vary based upon one’s family, community, location, or caste. Pujas (Hindu festivals) are common. During my time here I have had the opportunity to observe in close proximity the playing out of one of these pujas known as the “Durga Puja” – a holiday dedicated to the goddess “Durga”. Worshippers, faces painted purple, move in slow procession down the street, dancing (at times almost in a frenzy), while music blares from a nearby audio system. It’s a disturbing thing to observe.

Most of our orphans in India (and Nepal) come out of Hindu backgrounds. In some way – either recommendation by a local church pastor, divine intervention, or good old-fashioned luck – these kids have somehow ended up in a Christian orphanage. They have been given a second chance at life. Colossians 1:13 comes to mind which says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son He loves”. Life is different for these kids now. They have a safe place to live, caretakers that love them, good food to eat, and good clothes to wear. They go to school, and they hear about Jesus and have the opportunity to begin a new life with Him. Many choose to do so.

Many of these kids have living relatives, and it is not uncommon for a visit “home” from time-to-time. During these visits the kids are reminded of the life they once lived. Nothing has changed for their relatives, however. They still live in physical poverty and spiritual darkness. They continue to faithfully perform the rites and rituals inherent to the worship of their particular Hindu god(s), and they expect their visitors to do likewise. Imagine the shock when the answer is, “No! I will not!”

This is exactly what happened in the case of two of our teenage orphans, brothers who have embraced New Life in Christ, and refused (like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego) to bow a knee to a pagan god. Instead, they shared with their family members about Jesus. Wow – what faith! What courage!

These brothers are living their faith outside the orphanage walls. They are the “light of the world” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:14. This type of bold, courageous witness is what we desire of, and pray for, each of our orphans in each of our orphanages. We want to see them go forth one day (even now) as His envoys of light into a very dark world. Doesn’t mean they all will be full-time Christian workers when they grow up. Most probably will not. But, no matter where God sends them or how He uses them, it is our prayer that they will be full-time Christians – brightly shining the Light of the Gospel to those around.

“Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘…we have not need to answer you in this matter…let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’” (Daniel 3:16,18).

I was inspired by these two orphans that I met, a modern-day “Shadrach and Meschach”. Unafraid to stand up for Christ. Unafraid to say “no” in the face of pressure to bow. Pretty impressive.


News Article - Romania Kids

About a month ago one of our teams spent a week in Romania - learning about the country and culture, visiting several Kidstown-supported orphanages, and sadly, witnessing some of the environments out of which our orphans have come.

Accompanying this team was a reporter from the Tacoma News Tribune, who subsequently penned a story for your reading.

Thanks to each of you for your love for orphans, and for your support of Kidstown.


The Unsung Heroes

Orphan ministry takes special people with a special calling. People who are willing to give up the "normal" life and live the "outward-focused" life that we spoke of a couple of days ago. It takes people who are willing to fight in the trenches for the long haul, enduring stresses, fears, uncertainties, loneliness, and far too often, little-to-no recognition or honor for the work they have done among these children.

These "unsung heroes" to whom I refer are the orphanage leaders - a breed of people all their own. They are the ones who not only sympathize with these little ones that are suffering, but are willing to do something about it. And I'm not referring to giving a child a piece of bread and calling it good, I'm referring to taking these kids into their homes - kids with lice and scabbies, kids with emotional and spiritual baggage, kids which society at-large would rather turn a blind eye to - and giving them love, care, structure, godly modelling, and so much more.

These orphanage leaders are the true visionaries: people who are able to see beyond the filth and matted hair to the gleaming potential of what could become of these kids given sufficient love (and, of course, with God in the mix)!

These are the unsung heroes. And our Kidstown family is privileged to partner with many such heroes in India, in Nepal, and in Romania.

We all believe in orphan ministry. We all want to see these kids helped, given hope and the Gospel, and that they fulfill their God-crafted destinies. But this can't happen without the orphanage leaders. They are the critical link. And so, they need our prayer support.

May I challenge each of our readers: will you commit to praying on a regular basis for our 50 orphanage leaders? That God will sustain them, encourage them, provide for all their needs, refuel their zeal and passion each day, and help them to stay in the fight for the long-haul?

Thanks for your belief in, commitment to, and prayers for our orphanage leaders.


Having an "Others" Mindset

While in-transit very early this morning at the Shanghai airport, I exchanged a few words with a Swiss-Canadian man that was, like me, headed to Calcutta. He has not been to India for about 25 years, and we briefly talked about the changes he might see. I shared that I had been to India numerous times, and briefly about the orphan work that we are involved in, to which he made a comment something to the effect of, “these trips must help break you out of the self-centered living (of the West)”. Interesting statement, and yet, very true.

I don’t know about each of you, but I find it very easy to build life around
myself. My comfort, my security, my wants, my needs, my priorities, my choices, my rights, and on and on. How often do I stop and realize that I’m living this way, and then ask myself the antidotal question of “is this how I’m supposed to be living?” and if not, then what should my focus be?

The answer to this question has been aptly coined by one of our India co-workers who said “live for others, not for self”. Likewise Jesus, when sending out the 12 disciples, is recorded as having told them to preach Good News, to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:7-9). Theirs was not a mission of self-benefit; it was a mission with others in mind: their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. They were on an “others” mission!

This applies to all of us as well – whether we are in transit to India, in India, or in suburban USA. Each one of us has been blessed in one way or another, and are instructed to pass those blessings along to others (“Freely you have received, freely give” said Jesus). May living with such an outward/other-focus be something that each of us aspires to, each day, in some way. Maybe that means supporting an orphan, or writing a letter to an orphan you already support. Maybe it means reaching out to a hurting family in your neighborhood or church. Maybe it means taking a trip to India in order to “break out” of the “me” mindset. Whatever it is, may I encourage all of us to take an active step in this direction.

After the 12-hour plane ride from Vancouver to Shanghai, the last thing I was
expecting was a spiritual lesson while waiting for my next flight. But one never knows how and when God’s going to show up, and what He is going to say when He does. “Don’t live for self. Live for others.” That’s a pretty good message!