Imagine shortly after your honeymoon, you wind up feeding and rearing eighteen kids. Not just any kids. All special needs — some sick, most emotionally or physically ravaged, and all of them very alone. The place you call home is a 500 square cinderblock structure with no electricity, no running water, and no bathroom facilities, save an outhouse out back. The kids, many of them crying throughout the night due to sickness or nightmares of events in the recent past, sleep wall-to-wall on a cold cement floor for lack of beds. But at least your “outdoor kitchen” with mud floors has a grate for cooking over the wood fire you have to build every mealtime, which is only about once every three days since food is so scarce.

That’s what newly married life was like for 28-year-old Pastor Willio Joseph and his wife, Chrismene in the northern Haitian town of Ouanaminthe, population 16,000, where they live. Two years ago, Willio began bringing wandering hungry orphans home, hoping he could somehow alleviate their suffering and give them a sense of family. But with the lack of money and food, the situation grew steadily bleak.

Finally, last February, Willio bowed his head and told God that if he was to continue taking care of these children — God’s children — God would have to send hope and help soon. Getting online in a local “internet caf鬦quot; consisting of a few computers running off a generator, Willio typed the word “hope” into a search engine. The international ministry called Hopegivers seemed too good to be true when Willio found their web site right away. He gave it a try, not expecting an answer to his plea for food and help any time soon.

The very next day, he received an email back from Hopegivers, and they struck up a relationship. Before long, help was on the way. Since then Hopegivers’ supporters have been able to provide regular daily meals, medicine, and even a fresh water well for the orphanage, which has made a huge impact on the physical health of the entire neighborhood now that they no longer have to drink contaminated ground water. Thanks to the medicines, the once gravely sick children with HIV and tuberculosis are now happy, lively kids, noticeably improved since Hopegivers’ first trip to visit the orphanage in August.

Willio and Chrismene have a great hope to raise enough money to expand the orphanage so that they don’t have to turn down any more suffering kids on the street. It’s what drives them to make the daily sacrifices that often make them ignore their own needs. “I see the suffering of the children, and I remember how it feels because I suffered much as a child with hunger and sickness. I don’t want to see them suffer anymore.”

Willio also opened a Christian school for street kids, which is now educating over 400 students, three to a chair. His heartfelt vision is to raise up young men and women with an education and a fervor for the gospel to spread the love of Christ throughout Haiti. His passion and enthusiasm for his mission seem tireless.

Do you have a part?

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There are many needs in this world, so why give to the Haiti orphanage? Sadly, most Haitians have no way out of their desperate situation without outside help. So many living in poverty have no job opportunities, no industry, no money, and no future unless we lend a personal hand.

Three days after returning home from visiting the orphanage, I ran across this verse in my regular Daily Bible reading for December 3rd. “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.” (1 John 3:16-18 TM)

We may not be able to end world hunger once and for all, but we can all do something about the needs we know about. Please join me this Christmas season and consider giving a generous donation to a ministry like Hopegivers that cares for the vulnerable, exploited and downtrodden. The kids you invest in will literally thank you for eternity. And you will feel good about knowing you tangibly helped alleviate suffering in this world for real flesh-and-blood children, just like the ones you may have at home.

Hopegivers International is a non-profit organization devoted to helping the oppressed, especially orphans. To make a one-time or regular monthly donation, go to: Feel free to give them a call and specify your donation to assist the orphanage in Haiti.

Copyright © 2006 Julie Ferwerda, Used with permission.

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