WISE SHORT-TERM MISSIONS PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES TO BENEFIT VULNERABLE CHILDREN & FAMILIES
â€œShort-term mission trips carry potential for much good and much harm. Wise engagement is critical, especially when we hope to benefit children.â€?
INTRODUCTION More than two million Christians travel on international shortterm mission trips every year. Many of these participants seek to benefit orphans and vulnerable children, desiring to live out the Bible’s call to “care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). Mission trips make possible experiences, interactions and service that can be transformative—both for volunteers and for the communities they visit. Many child advocates and leaders of organizations serving vulnerable children today trace their
commitments back to an international service trip.
GREAT RISK At the same time, such service-focused travel can also cause great harm if not wisely led. These risks can be especially high when visitors seek to serve children, particularly those lacking the protection and connectedness of family. This risk — and the real harm that sometimes results — has led to powerful criticism of short-term missions. This concern is warranted, and the significant hazards of short-term missions must be considered with humility and openness to change.
GREAT POTENTIAL At the same time, the potential for good offered by short term missions calls for continued refining, correction, and improvement. When carried out with due caution and wisdom, short-term missions can benefit children for the long term — especially by building up the families and communities capable of caring for them over time. To do this well, trip organizers and participants must have a clear sense how to plan, prepare for, and carry out their service in ways that ensure safety and promote the lasting well being of children, families, and communities.
A JOURNEY TOGETHER The “Seven Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission” provide guidelines that help avoid harm and maximize benefits in short-term missions. The following principles are offered as a supplement to these standards, providing guidance for international service trips intended to benefit orphaned and vulnerable children. These principles have been developed and approved by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, comprised of more than 190 respected organizations serving children in more than 130 nations. We establish these principles in unity, seeking to empower every church, organization, and volunteer participating in short-term missions to be more thoughtful and effective, particularly in respect to vulnerable children. We pray that every missions experience will: »» Leave a lasting positive impact in the lives of all who participate »» Bring enduring good to the children, families and communities served »» Honor the God who describes Himself as a Father to the fatherless
Together, we are on a journey toward wiser, more fruitful short-term missions...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRINCIPLES FOR BETTER PRACTICE Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Attachment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Caregivers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Expectations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF SHORT-TERM MISSIONS OVC Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 33 Storytelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mentors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Father & Son . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Fundraising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 45 Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Social Workers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
CASE STUDIES Hope International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Abide Family Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 World Orphans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Back2Back Ministries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Buckner International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Go Be Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 QUESTION FOR REFLECTION SHORT-TERM MISSIONS RESOURCES CAFO CORE PRINCIPLES
PART 1 PRINCIPLES FOR BETTER PRACTICE
Short-term mission trips can facilitate awareness and engagement with what God is doing around the world in a way that can be transformative â€“ both for volunteers and for the communities they visit. These trips are ideally suited for listening, learning, and building relationships, and can support long-term ministry efforts in meaningful ways.
PROTECTION SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN FROM HARM IS FIRST PRIORITY
Whatever good we hope to do, our top priority must be protecting children’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being — both immediate and long-term.
HOW? »» Ensure your organization and any partners have established — and consistently implement and review — an official child protection policy with all staff, volunteers, and trip participants. »» Thoroughly screen all staff, volunteers, and trip participants, including background checks and references. Findings that indicate any significant concerns should prevent participation. »» Ensure that any volunteer interaction with children happens in a public place, not in the home space of children, and always under the invitation and supervision of parents and caregivers. »» Establish systems for reporting any suspected maltreatment of children. Communicate this process to all staff, trip participants, and ministry partners in writing.
ATTACHMENT SUPPORT BONDS BETWEEN CHILDREN AND THEIR PARENT OR PRIMARY CAREGIVER
Attachment is the emotional bond formed as a caring adult consistently meets a child’s needs over time. For children who’ve experienced trauma or loss, attachment is especially critical to healing. Attachment affects a child’s lifelong ability to form healthy relationships.
HOW? »» Nurture healthy attachment by ensuring that parents and long-term caregivers, not trip participants, are meeting children’s primary needs — especially in daily routines and intimate moments. »» Encourage children to seek physical and emotional affection from their parents and primary caregivers instead of trip participants, and teach trip participants how to redirect children to their parents and primary caregivers. »» The repeated making and breaking of bonds with successive trip participants can damage attachment, so ensure that children are not regularly exposed to new trip participants and other strangers. Interaction should not include children under age three, as attachment is most critical and tenuous at this stage. »» Prior to a trip, outline clear boundaries for any interaction with children, determined by context and with the input of local partners.
CAREGIVERS HONOR THE ROLE OF PARENTS AND PRIMARY CAREGIVERS
Parents and primary caregivers will be present long after trip participants return home. Honoring their role, encouraging them, and bolstering their capacity is the most impactful gift you can give to the children in their care.
HOW? »» Start with learning what best supports parents and primary caregivers by asking them before a team arrives. »» Spotlight the parent or primary caregiver as the hero in a child’s life, and be willing to take a supporting role. »» Interact with children only with the approval of parents or primary caregivers, who have the ability to decline or set limits on child interaction with trip participants. »» Honor the role of parents and primary caregivers in the way you give. Gifts should be given only under the guidance of—and typically through—parents and primary caregivers, taking great care to reinforce their role as providers.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT THE COMMUNITIES SURROUNDING VULNERABLE CHILDREN
Often, the most effective way to meet the needs of children is to invest in the local community capable of protecting and nurturing them over time.
HOW? »» Understand that children thrive when surrounded by healthy communities and social systems — including families, schools, churches, businesses, and local government. »» Instead of focusing on an orphanage or children’s home, consider activities that benefit the entire community — such as camps, clinics, teaching English, or other training. Events like these can strengthen families and help children separated from family care to integrate with the community. »» Train and resource local leaders and ministries that have the potential to positively impact vulnerable children long-term. When your team possesses appropriate capacity, consider offering training in business, children’s ministry, financial literacy, parenting, marriage support, or other skills that strengthen families and communities. »» Always consider what effect it would have on the community if the activities and relational interactions of your trip were repeated by other teams over time.
EXPECTATIONS MAKE SURE THE TRIP PURPOSE IS CLEAR AND EXPECTATIONS THOROUGHLY UNDERSTOOD
Given the language, culture, and time limitations of short-term missions, these trips are generally best suited to encourage and strengthen those in a position to create lasting good over time. When travelers understand these limitations — and also the good that is possible in short visits — they’re more prepared to make the most of the trip.
HOW? »» Before travel, make sure every participant has a sharp understanding of the true purposes of the trip. Lead participants to reflect on — and possibly adjust - their motivations and expectations. Ensure volunteers have an accurate grasp of what can, and cannot, be accomplished during a brief visit to a foreign country. Convey clearly that short-term trips are not meant to “fix” longstanding challenges. »» Help participants to view listening, learning and building relationships as more central than any tasks they may accomplish. To this end, consider reframing the trip as a service learning, advocate training, spiritual formation and/or vision trip. Help participants grasp that the most lasting impact of their participation is often in how it can alter their perspectives and priorities for a lifetime. What they do after the trip is even more important than they do during it, from ongoing advocacy to prayer and financial support. »» Prepare trip participants to anticipate difficult experiences, disappointments and last-minute changes. »» Be particularly clear on behavior expectations — especially what will and will not be allowed regarding interaction with children. Commit to the best interest of each child first, over trip participants’ emotional needs.
â€œWe establish these principles in unity, seeking to empower every church, organization, and volunteer participating in short-term missions to be more thoughtful and effective, particularly in respect to vulnerable children.â€?
PARTNERSHIP ANCHOR EVERY TRIP IN LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS WITH QUALITY PARTNERS
Learn from reliable on-the-ground allies how you can best contribute to their efforts to meet needs in their community over time.
HOW? »» Root all service in long-term relationship with trustworthy local partners and multiyear ministry plans, and help trip participants understand why this matters. »» Long before sending trip participants, do the hard work necessary to investigate potential partners thoroughly, including the quality of their work, their local reputation, and standing with local and national authorities. »» Never move forward if there are substantive questions about unethical activities, child safety standards, or organizational integrity. »» Focus on growing relationships first, executing projects second.
TRAINING COMMIT TO LEARNING BEFORE DOING
Thoughtful education prior to, during and after a trip is critical to preventing harm. It is also key to making a trip a truly life-transforming experience for participants.
HOW? »» Volunteer training should begin prior to visiting the field, including foundational understanding of the local culture and history, root causes of poverty, and potential pitfalls of well-intended charity. »» Trip participants should be especially well trained in principles of responsible interaction with children, including child protection policies, fundamentals of attachment, the effects of trauma, and prioritizing the best interest of each child. »» Include local leaders in the development and teaching of training. »» Training should repeatedly emphasize the primary role of parents and caregivers, the priority of local leadership, and that the long-term needs of each child must always take priority over the desires of visitors.
MEDIA SHARE STORIES AND IMAGES WITH CARE
Photos, film, and stories of any person should be created and shared only in ways that respect their wishes and affirm their dignity as beings made in the image of God.
HOW? »» Images that include vulnerable children should be taken and shared only with permission from the child and his/her parent or primary caregiver. »» To help trip participants be fully present, consider not allowing photos at certain times (or at all), and/or designating one individual to take images for the team. »» Share only images and stories that convey dignity. »» Consider the lasting impact any photos or stories could have on the life of the child, and never share an image you would not share in front of the child and his or her parent or caregiver.
PART 2 ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF SHORT-TERM MISSIONS
As we consider how to limit the hazards of short-term mission trips, itâ€™s important to acknowledge that many of the greatest risks come when participants volunteer in residential care facilities. Although small, family-like group homes may be the best available care option for some children, there are many other ways for visitors to serve that carry less risk of harm. So what are the alternatives? And how can organizations harness the great good that can come from these trips while minimizing risk of harm? As a starting point, the Christian Alliance for Orphans has gathered real-world alternatives and case studies -- in part from a vibrant interactive workshop of STM leaders at the CAFO2018 Summit. As you consider how these ideas might be applicable for your church, organization, and/ or mission partners, we hope they can be a catalyst for your own innovations in wise, effective short-term missions.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Raise awareness about the scriptural basis for caring for vulnerable children, the needs of vulnerable children and families, as well as opportunities to serve them 2. Create networking opportunities for local leaders interested in serving vulnerable children and families 3. Empower all attendees to leave with one concrete goal or next step for ministry
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » Ensure there is adequate time on the ground planned before the conference begins to make necessary preparations and begin to build relationships with local team members. Sharing brief testimonies can go a long way toward building unity and understanding. » Learn from community members how the team can be most helpful. Follow the guidance of local leaders » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, and an overview of conference goals and agenda » Be humble about your role- it’s likely that participants need to hear local leaders speak and lead. The role of the team may be to serve, encourage, and empower. » Encourage all attendees to identify ONE thing they will do differently as a result of the conference, as well as how and when they will do it. » Ongoing prayer throughout the event is an excellent way to engage short-term volunteers
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » What is the goal of this conference? Who is the target audience? What do they need most? » What are the roles team-members can fill? » Is the conference in a different language? Will the team need translation? » Is food provided? Is there a cost to the conference? » How will this conference be promoted? » What will follow-up to this event be like?
OVC CONFERENCE INSPIRE, EQUIP, AND CONNECT LOCAL CITIZENS WITH A CONFERENCE FOCUSED ON CARE FOR ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN In some cultures, the idea of caring for a non-biological child as your own may be a foreign concept, even in the Church. Even where orphan care is a common concept, local citizens may never have had the opportunity to gather together to learn more about this topic. Working with local partners- who are already excited about caring for vulnerable childrento host churches, parents, child welfare workers, and other individuals who care for vulnerable children in a conference setting has the potential to catalyze longterm change and relationships long past the time the visiting team returns home.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Educate children with new social, cultural, and athletic skills 2. Create or support opportunities for the local church to care for vulnerable children and families 3. Develop new relationships and allow for opportunities to share about life in Christ
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » Teaching and practicing new skills, as well as games or tournament play, compose the bulk of this model » Allow for rest and free time so children and youth can build relationships in other ways » This model creates opportunities for education around teamwork, safety, good sportsmanship, healthy competition, etc. Work with local leaders to ensure these messages are culturally appropriate. » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, an overview of project goals and agenda, and any necessary skills training » Roles and needs may change throughout the project, so stay flexible » Follow the lead of local participants
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » How will participants be divided- by age groups? Skill levels? » Do we have enough trip participants or partners with athletic knowledge to teach in this setting? College players and coaches would be ideal. » Are there support roles for non-athletic team members? » What skill level can we teach? Do we need to limit the camp to younger ages? » What church or school will we partner with to facilitate or host the sports camp? » How will plans change if there is poor weather? » What kind of food, water, and first aid needs to be provided?
SPORTS INCORPORATE A LOVE FOR SPORTS TO CROSS LANGUAGE BARRIERS AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES. Playing sports is a worldwide pastime, and can put volunteers and the members of the communities receiving them on equal footing. A camp offering different types of sports so that children may learn and continue to grow in their skills can be an asset to all involved. Working with the local church will ensure the camp is delivered in a culturally-appropriate way, and that ministry can continue long after the shortterm team has returned home.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Listen and learn about the work God is doing through a specific ministry 2. Train participants to become advocates for the ministry and the people it serves 3. Build awareness among the networks of the participants
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » Primary activities will be focused on listening, learning, and understanding, and could include attending presentations, completing interviews, shadowing, etc. » Advocacy, fundraising, storytelling, etc. will continue after the participant returns home. » Build in time for training on how to do these things effectively. Give examples and discuss resources. » Training should also include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, and an overview of project goals and agenda » Be clear about goals and expectations from the host organization » Pledge via http://ethicalstorytelling.com/pledge/ before committing to the trip.
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » Do our participants commit to raising awareness long-term? » What kinds of training are necessary to help them be successful in different situations and across diverse media? » This trip would be ideal for creative and expressive individuals who may be a photographer, blogger, editor. What type of preparation do they require pre-field? » Is there a language barrier? Will translators be necessary? » What types of materials might be available from the organization to support advocacy? » What are the specific advocacy needs of the organization? For example, would a 3 minute highlight video be helpful?
ADVOCACY USE A SHORT-TERM TRIP TO PREPARE LONG-TERM ADVOCATES TO TELL THE STORY OF THE MINISTRY. One of the greatest challenges for most nonprofit ministries is raising awareness of their work and developing partnerships. Inviting key influencers, advocates, and partners to see the long-term work on the ground, as well as giving them insights into the behind-the-scenes operations, can prepare them to be a voice connecting pointing others to the ministry. This trip will also consist of helping them develop a clear vision and strategy for their role as advocates, giving them tools and resources to share, and sharing examples of how to successfully share a story in order to build awareness and catalyze action.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Train individuals willing to mentor vulnerable children, so they can be better resourced, grow in personal capacity, and lessen caregiver burden 2. Equip local church leaders for future mentor training and support 3. Create a support network for mentors
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » Primary activities will focus on a training for mentors. Resources can be found here. » All training should take place in partnership with local church members; ensure there is adequate time for local and visiting team members to build relationships » Build in time prior to training to learn from community members why this project matters, and how the team can be most helpful » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, an overview of project goals and agenda, and any necessary skills training » Roles and needs may change throughout the project, so stay flexible » Follow the lead of local participants, and let them be the heroes » Consider providing an additional “training of trainers” component
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » What child protection elements (i.e. background checks) need to be implemented to ensure child safety? » How can we refresh and energize these mentors? » Who is the target audience? How will local partners recruit mentors prior to training? » What promotion is required for this training? How can the short-term team help? » What kind of network and follow-up support is available to mentors who take this training?
MENTORS GIVE CARING ADULTS THE SKILLS TO BE CHANGE-MAKERS AND DISCIPLERS IN THE LIVES OF ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN. In order to grow and develop well, all children need long-term, supportive adult relationships in their lives. However, many children around the world are lacking a sufficient number of safe, caring adults willing to invest in their wellbeing. Especially for children who may not live in a stable, nurturing families, mentors can be a lifeline, offering friendship, guidance, support, and connection. Furthermore, mentors can make a substantive difference in the ability to succeed for children aging out of alternative care, making a healthy mentor relationship a strong protective factor for orphans and vulnerable children in almost any care setting. Working with members of the local Church, short-term teams can provide information and resourcing to help train up mentors for the long-term support of vulnerable children.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Establish a mutually-beneficial exchange of knowledge 2. Break down cultural barriers and create long lasting relationships 3. Provide a marketable skill to participants
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » Time will primarily be focused on teaching part of the English curriculum and building relationships. Teaching can include class time, games, songs, or hands-on activities. » Ensure there is adequate time before starting classes to learn from community members why this project matters, and how the team can be most helpful » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, an overview of project goals and agenda, and any necessary skills training » All teaching should be done within the context of a longer-term curriculum » Incorporate time for learning the language and culture of the host community
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » Is any sort of initial testing or assessment needed? » How will participants be divided- by age? Ability level? » Who is responsible for ensuring short-term teaching is part of a longer-term curriculum? » What kinds of language skills are most helpful for the audience? » What kinds of partners will we need to work with to make this successful?
LANGUAGE USE OF LANGUAGE AND CULTURE TO FACILITATE LISTENING, LEARNING, AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. In many cultures around the world, learning another language can be a valuable skill. Furthermore, learning about the host countryâ€™s language and culture can be a worldview-shifting experience for trip participants. This makes a language and cultural exchange a mutually beneficial option. Working through local partners, teams can be one part of a longer-term plan for curriculum, ensuring they master and deliver their part of the curriculum, all within the context of what other teams are teaching.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Provide an opportunity to strengthen the bond between father and son 2. Emphasize the Father role in our relationship with God 3. Empower fathers to set a godly example for sons
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » The primary focus will be on the relationship between fathers and sons, providing interactive experiences centered around building their relationship » Fathers and sons from both the host and sending countries will participate, and leadership from both countries will plan and implement » Ensure there is adequate time built in to learn from local partners why this project matters, and how the team can be most helpful » Training for visitors should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, and an overview of project goals and agenda
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » What kind of supports will be available for fathers and sons who have a tense relationship? » Who is the target audience? Are boys and grandfathers or mentors welcome? » What biblical stories or scriptures will this event be focused around? » What is a “win” for this event? » What type of follow-up support is available?
FATHER & SON HOST A FATHER AND SON EVENT THAT STRENGTHENS BONDS AND CEMENTS IDENTITIES IN CHRIST. FOR THOSE WHO DONâ€™T HAVE A PRESENT FATHER, FATHER FIGURES ARE ALSO WELCOME. In many cultures, the role of a father- although uniquely important- is often quite tenuous. Nonetheless, scripture and reams of research both indicate that a secure relationship with a father can make all the difference in the life of a child. This event provides an opportunity for visiting father and son teams, as well as father-son pairs from the host community, to grow together in Christ as they explore the biblical model for manhood in Christ.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Raise needed funds for long-term ministry 2. Bring awareness to the needs of vulnerable children 3. Empower participants to impact the life of a child in a meaningful way
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » The primary activities would include participating in a physical challenges, securing financial sponsors prior to event. » Ensure enough time before and after the event to learn about the local ministry » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, an overview of project goals and agenda, educating participants on fundraising, and preparing support staff for their role (such as first aid, handing out water, etc.) » Create awareness of this event via promotion.
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » What kind of partner relationships need to be in place to make this event a success? » How can we help participants set and achieve fundraising goals? How much financial backing does a participant need to raise to cover their own travel and lodging costs, as well as to raise a meaningful amount for the highlighted ministry? » Where would the event be located? What is needed to make it successful? » How would we handle potential injuries?
FUNDRAISING UTILIZE A PHYSICAL CHALLENGE IN ANOTHER PART OF THE WORLD TO RAISE AWARENESS AND FUNDING FOR LONGTERM MINISTRY. Around the world, incredible ministries are limited from becoming all that they could be by a lack of funds. A short-term team participating in a triathlon, 5K, or mountain climb can be an unprecedented opportunity to highlight needs and opportunities, share the story of the ministry, and raise funds that will empower them to do the best for vulnerable children and families long-term.
PRIMARY GOALS 1. Serve, empower and strengthen foster and adoptive families 2. Connect foster and adoptive families to each other 3. Empower the local church to serve families caring for children from hard places
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » The camp will not be focused training or education, but rather on games, activities, and building memories in order to strengthen trust and build relationships within each family » Provide enough time prior to camp to learn from community members why this project matters, and how the team can be most helpful » Pre-camp training will include educating participants on how to impactfully encourage foster and adoptive families, preparing volunteers to lead specific activities, and ensuring all volunteers have a clear understanding on the effects of trauma and attachment. » Ensure all activities are under the guidance of local leaders, and the members of the short-term team take a supporting role. » Training should also include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, and an overview of conference goals and agenda » Listen to local parents regarding which activities they and their families would enjoy and allow the local church take the center role in serving » Consider schedules carefully: a weekend or day camp may be a good fit, depending on the needs of local families
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » Is a translator needed for guest speakers? Are there any local speakers who could fill the role instead? » What ages are best suited for this event? » Where can families go for rest or to give a child or parent a break from the crowd? » What kind of counseling can be available for families who need extra support? » How will families learn about the event? Does the term “foster” or “adoptive” family resonate with the culture? Is there need for a different term?
CAMP HELP FOSTER AND ADOPTIVE FAMILIES BUILD MEMORIES TOGETHER. At times, it can seem isolating to be a foster or adoptive family. Others may not understand the behavior of children from hard places, or the need to structure life in an unusual way. Planning and hosting a camp for foster and adoptive families can create opportunities to bond and have fun, all with other families who understand. It can also help local churches identify families that might need extra support, and how best to minister to them.
Primary Goals: 1. Provide critical training to those who care for vulnerable children long-term 2. Elevate the quality of care for vulnerable children by educating and supporting caregivers 3. Create a space for networking and communication Activities and Timeline: » The primary focus of this one-to-multiple day event is to host one or more skilled trainers to build capacity in the families and communities that care for vulnerable children long-term » Prior to planning the trip, learn from local families and partners what the greatest training needs are » Ensure there is adequate time before teaching begins to learn from community members why this project matters, and how the team can be most helpful. Team members should not engage in any activities they wouldn’t have the knowledge, experience, and credentialing to teach in their home country » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, and an overview of project goals and agenda » Roles and needs may change throughout the project, so be flexible » Follow the lead of local partners » Ongoing prayer throughout the event is an excellent way to engage short- term volunteers » Provide certificates of completion Consider while planning: » Do short-term volunteers have the necessary education and experience to teach these skills? Professional skills should only be taught by credentialed professionals. If no one on the team has the necessary background, consider sponsoring travel and fee for an experienced, credentialed trainer to lead the workshop. » Who is the target audience? What do they need most? Which skills are wanted? » How will participants be recruited for training? Is promotion needed? Is there anything the short-term team can do to help? » Are there local professionals who can continue training and provide followup? How can the team partner with them on this project? Should they be teaching instead of a visiting trainer? » What credentials must the trainer have in order to train participants? How will you find and choose the right trainer? » How will the team members be involved during event? » What local relationships need to be in place to make this event a success?
SKILLS PROVIDE SUPPORT AND SKILLS TRAINING TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS, BUILDING UP THE PEOPLE AND SYSTEMS THAT CARE FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN LONG-TERM. All around the world, Christian care for vulnerable children as a result of Godâ€™s love for us. However, caring for children who have experienced trauma, adversity, and separation from parents can be far more complicated than we anticipate, and can require tools and knowledge that may not be readily available in a given context. Short-term teams can support long-term partners providing training on felt needs like trauma-informed care, parenting, family strengthening, or any number of topics that can serve orphans and vulnerable children by building capacity in the families and communities that care for them long-term.
PRIMARY GOALS: 1. Empower the local Church to share Christlike love with social workers 2. Ensure social workers know they are appreciated and valued 3. Develop relationships with social workers in order to know how to better support them in the future
ACTIVITIES AND TIMELINE: » The primary activities could vary widely, but should center around supporting and showing appreciation toward social workers. Follow the lead of local partners » Ensure there is adequate time built in before work on the project begins to learn from community members why this project matters, and how the team can be most helpful » Training should include basic cultural principles, expectations of team members and leaders, and an overview of project goals and agenda » Let the local partners be the heroes in this story » Include time for prayer and spoken encouragement over the social workers
CONSIDER WHILE PLANNING: » How can social workers still be encouraged, even after the party? Should a small gift, such as a book or some sort of reminder, be included when they leave the event? » What kind of follow-up can happen to build the relationship between the church and social workers? » How will you find out what social workers need most? » How will you promote this event to social workers? How many? » This model could also be used to honor teachers, daycare workers, or other child professionals.
SOCIAL WORKERS BLESS AND ENCOURAGE THE UNSUNG HEROES IN CARING FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN- SOCIAL WORKERS. Social work is an exhausting, demanding, and often thankless job. Skilled professional social workers are also critical to the wellbeing of vulnerable children. Encourage and empower the local church to develop relationships with and support local social workers. Activities could vary widely, but could include anything from a breakfast honoring local child welfare workers, to written thank you notes and prayers, to tangible gifts to use during their late nights and long days of travel.
PART 3 CASE STUDIES OF INNOVATIVE SHORT-TERM MISSIONS TRIPS BENEFITING VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Principles and models are necessary and helpful in informing our approach to short-term missions. However, when desiring to make a substantive change in practice, real-world examples can be some of the most helpful tools for catalyzing new ways of engaging. With that in mind, these 6 examples of trips that faithbased organizations are utilizing to involve short-term volunteers are intended to spark innovation and new ideas for implementation.
Vision Trip HOPE Trips are designed to be observational. Unlike traditional missions or work trips, HOPE Trips allow participants to observe what others are capable of doing through access to basic resources. The aim is that seeing this transformational work firsthand will compel travelers to partner with HOPE in a deeper and more meaningful way. Purpose: To prepare each participant to engage more deeply in the ministry of HOPE once they return home from their trip. Through the trip, we hope individuals expand their understanding of the mission of HOPE, Godâ€™s views on poverty, and our role in serving others. Activities: Visit local office and staff, observe microfinance institution and savings groups meetings, personally visit with a client and learn their story, devotions and reflection, and a local cultural activity. Preparation: Prior to the trip, participants receive and read a book, blog, video, and pretrip packet focused on the ministry. Also, logistics such as vaccination and flight info are communicated. Throughout the trip, participants will meet individuals and hear stories of how they used their skills and dreams to create extra income for their family and serve their community. During the trip, visitors are continually challenged to look around and consider: 1. What do I see when I see people in need? 2. How does God want me to use what heâ€™s given me? 3. What has God placed in my hands? These questions continue to point us back to the belief that God will use what we already have to work in miraculous ways as we trust in him.
ABIDE FAMILY CENTER
Storytelling Trip Short-term volunteers capture images and stories of Abide families, in order to share the ministry of the organization and celebrate stories of success. In addition to providing material for future fundraising and advocacy, storytellers are trained to be capable of advocating for vulnerable children within their own network upon their return home. Purpose: Build relationships and train advocates for a locally-led family strengthening program, with a goal of encouraging staff and sharing the vision and ministry more broadly. Activities: Training, relationship building with staff, “staff spoiling day,” meet clients at their home to hear their stories and learn about their businesses, work with a client and staff member to refine a narrative. Each home visit will involve a staff member and no more than 2 team members. The trip will end with an Abide graduation and team debrief, followed by cultural experiences that intentionally support Ugandan-owned businesses. Preparation: Prior to the trip, each team member signs the Ethical Storytelling Pledge. In the months leading up to the trip, participants communicate through a shared Facebook group where trip leaders post articles and stories to start discussions and reflection, including Urban Halo by Craig Greenfield, The Social Media Guide from Radi-Aid and Barbie Savior, and the Irina Project’s tips for interviewing trauma survivors. During the trip, team members receive training using resources from Ethical Storytelling, and discuss these issues with Ugandans and non-Ugandans. The are also trained on trauma-sensitive interviewing. Giving someone permission to tell your story is powerful. Abide strives to avoid misrepresentation, re-traumatization, and accidental harm, but also recognizes mistakes happen. Trained mental health professionals supervise all interaction with clients to limit risk of harm. The goal is for all participants to feel that a true and dignified story has been told that empowers and celebrates the family at its center. The most essential component to trip success is screening team members and the clients thoroughly, including trauma history, readiness to tell their story, and possible consequences to their business. Tema members need to be willing to challenge themselves to be better storytellers and open to questioning how they - and others - have done things in the past. Successful participants embrace the saying “when we know better we do better”. 51
Church Partnership Trip World Orphans operates with a church partnership model, so all trips occur within the context of long-term relationship. Teams engage with church partners to learn from and encourage them in their care of orphaned and vulnerable children through community-based family care. Purpose: To strengthen church partnerships through building relationships and serving together in a mutually beneficial capacity. This trip cares for orphaned and vulnerable children by building up that church and community members caring for them on a regular basis. Activities: Spending time with church leadership, learning from leaders of the home-based care program, community meal, home visits (where appropriate), a cultural experience Preparation: Prior to the trip, volunteers are provided training via resources like a World Orphanâ€™s handbook, Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions, Slow Kingdom Coming, and Western Christians and Global Mission. These trips are fairly brief (less than one week), as it is better to have a short trip than to be in country longer than is helpful to a host. Follow up is ongoing, as churches have quarterly video calls with each other, and regular trips.
Parent Support Short-term visitors support long-term family strengthening efforts by channeling ministry efforts into existing programs. Purpose: To involve the body of Christ in encouraging and building up communities, as a means of strengthening families and keeping them together. In the process, mission teams are educated on the complexity of poverty and trauma and how the gospel moves followers of Christ into that story as agents of change. Activities: Participating in English or skills classes with local moms, putting on celebration for local families, visit families to pray for them (especially those without support), participating as consumers in a “Mom’s Market,” where moms from the Strong Families program can test handmade products that they could eventually sell elsewhere. Preparation: Prior to the trip, volunteers are asked to prepare activities for their trip, from a skills class to a devotional to a creative workshop to give at the community center. Optionally, teams can watch Poverty Cure, or read When Helping Hurts or Slow Kingdom Coming to prepare. During the trip, participants are trained on the nature and impact of poverty, as well as trauma competent care, as all families served have some history of trauma. Strong, long-term relationships between ministry staff and local families are vital for this type of trip to be effective, allowing interaction without creating dependency or a culture of poverty tourism. Also critical is education around the importance of communicating dignity to local families. All people experience poverty in one way or another, and there is no “us” and “them.
Family Strengthening/ Marriage Retreat To strengthen families identified as in need of extra support by program staff, offering an opportunity for coaching and capacity building. Purpose: To connect the Church to opportunities to share faith, provide hope, and demonstrate love to vulnerable children and families. Short-term teams support the longterm ministry goals related to family strengthening that occurs through Family Hope Centers by offering a seminar under the guidance and leadership of program social workers and family coaches. Activities: Prior to the trip, program staff determines and requests activities to address certain concerns or issues within the families who will attend the event. The team will then hold a half-to-one-day seminar/retreat for couples and families. If the mission team has a counselor, they will lead the retreat. Otherwise, lay leaders from the team will lead, under the guidance of program social workers. Preparation: Every team that serves with Buckner is assigned a missions coordinator that plans the details of the trip with the team contact and in-country staff. Each team has at least one orientation (either in-person or by phone) that includes an overview of Buckner, details of logistics, ministry details, as well as providing each team with a copy of Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions that the team can use to prepare for their trip. A Buckner employee, trained to manage and lead teams, accompanies each team to oversee logistics, communications with in-country staff, manage finances, and serve team members throughout the teamâ€™s ministry time.
GO BE LOVE
Catalyst Student Team Catalyst is an overseas vision trip experience for students. An immersive pre-trip curriculum prepares participants not just for the trip itself but ultimately for their post-trip response. Catalyst Trip is intended to encourage students to engage with their global community and inspire them to action once they are home. Purpose: To provide student participants with an international experience designed to deepen their global perspective and understanding, provide training in cultural sensitivity, and expose them to needs and opportunities that could lead to long-term engagement. Activities: On the field, Catalyst students are exposed to a wide range of needs, opportunities, and multi-cultural perspectives. They are introduced to ministries and nonprofit organizations, business leaders, and government officials. They receive a holistic view of the country they visit; the good, the challenging, and often the very beautiful, including the natural wonders specific to the country they are visiting. Catalyst students understand that they are traveling overseas as learners. They are on the field to gain perspective, to make meaningful connections, and to identify needs and ongoing service opportunities they can engage with once they are back in the US. Students engage in times of reflection and journaling each evening. Preparation: In the months and weeks leading up to travel, students and leaders meet monthly to build team cohesiveness, cultivate cultural sensitivity and awareness, provide thorough trip preparation, and discuss appropriate post-trip responsiveness. Monthly training meetings begin 9+ months prior to travel to equip students both for the trip, as well as for the post-trip response. This trip lays the groundwork for an effective post-trip response. Post-trip, participants meet with team leaders to develop post-trip action plan/response: • Did you connect with a particular organization on the field that you can continue to support practically from the U.S.? • Did a particular cause, such as refugee causes or education, particularly resonate with you? • Did you identify a specific need that was not being met? • Did the trip change your perspective and perhaps open your eyes to a need or opportunity in your own community? 55
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
1. What types of activities would I feel comfortable allowing between my own child and an unknown visitor? What type of screening or supervision would I require?
2. How can I cultivate open and honest dialogue with local partners, knowing that money, resources, and position can affect our relationship and communication? What steps can I take to ensure I am getting honest answers about what STM service would be most helpful and appropriate?
3. How would I explain the purpose of the STM I am a part of? What additional motivations might also influence my participation?
4. How does the way we describe our trip influence the motives and expectations of participants? Would calling it a service learning, vision, or advocate training trip be more helpful? Is there another term that would describe it better?
5. How will my STM activities impact a child, family, or community in one, five or ten years from now?
6. If many teams do the same things mine does, what might the cumulative effect be? What â€œgoodâ€? activities might be harmful if repeated over time?
7. How can I support the parents and primary caregivers and other adults who serve vulnerable children long-term?
8. What are the true needs of the community? Are these needs best addressed by an STM team at this time, or would we be better utilized elsewhere?
9. How can I share skills that would be meaningful to the community?
10. What training is necessary for our team to be prepared for the culture and community? Who offers that training? Are we willing to invest the time and resources required in order to be well-trained?
11. Is it enough for us to embark on this trip primarily as learners? What would it mean if we couldnâ€™t fix any problems or accomplish any projects?
12. Are our partnerâ€™s programs of consistent high quality? Are they the right partner for us? Is there a way we can help them to improve their service to children?
RESOURCES ON WISE SHORT-TERM MISSIONS
» Short-Term Missions: Guidance to Support Orphans and Vulnerable Children (Faith to Action Initiative) » The 7 Standards (Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission) » Is Our Church Helping or Hurting Webinar (CAFO) » Global Engagement and the Church (CAFO) » Helping Without Hurting In Short-Term Missions: Leader’s Guide and Participant’s Guide (The Chalmers Center) » Protecting Children in Short-Term Missions (ACCI Missions & Relief) » Knowledge + Practice: Child Protection Webinar and Resource Guide (CAFO) » Ethical Short-Term Missions Training Tool (ACCI Missions & Relief) » Knowledge + Practice: Protecting and Honoring Vulnerable Children in Media Webinar, and Guidelines (CAFO) » Due Diligence Guidelines (ACCI Missions & Relief) *Although CAFO recommends these resources for further learning and exploration, it does not necessarily endorse or agree with every resource on every point.*
RESOURCES ON WISE SHORT-TERM MISSIONS
THE 7 STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE IN SHORT-TERM MISSIONS 1. God-Centeredness An excellent short-term mission seeks first Godâ€™s glory and his kingdom.
2. Empowering Partnerships An excellent short-term mission establishes health, independent on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners.
3. Mutual Design An excellent short-term mission collaboratively plans each specific outreach for the benefit of all participants.
5. Qualified Leadership An excellent short-term mission screens, trains, and develops capable leadership for all participants.
6. Appropriate Training An excellent short-term mission prepares and equips all participants for the mutually designed outreach.
7. Thorough Follow Through An excellent short-term mission assures evaluation, debriefing and appropriate follow-through for all participants.
4. Comprehensive Administration An excellent short-term mission exhibits integrity through reliable set-up and thorough administration for all participant.
CORE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE FOR ORPHANS
God’s Heart and Ours God is vested, deeply and personally, in the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children—and in all who are destitute and defenseless (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 10:14; Psalm 68:5-6, Isaiah 58:5-12). God calls His people to reflect His special love for these children in both word and deed (Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27; Matthew 25:40). Responsive Love To act upon God’s call to care for orphans is not merely a matter of duty, guilt or idealism. It is first a response to the good news, the Gospel: that God, our loving Father, sought us, adopted us, and invites us to live as His sons and daughters (John 1:12, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1). We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Well-Informed Action Good intentions alone are insufficient. All care for children must be guided by both knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 19:2; Philippians 1:9-11). In our broken world, no solution will be without flaws. Yet our aim must always be to offer the excellent care we’d desire to give Jesus himself — informed by Scripture and the best available research, knowledge and proven practice. Commitment to the Whole Child To meet only spiritual or only physical needs is incomplete (1 John 3:17; James 2:16; Mark 8:36). Christian love seeks to address both, just as Jesus always did. Nothing is of greater value than to know Jesus Christ and one’s identity as a child of God (Philippians 3:8). Yet even a cup of water given to a thirsty child is of eternal worth (Matthew 10:42).
Priority of Family Both Scripture and social science affirm that the best environment for children is a safe, permanent family. When this is not possible, the goal for each child should be — as a general rule — to move as far as possible along the “spectrum of
care” toward permanent family. Care for children should always be as safe, nurturing and as close to family as is feasible for the given situation. Family Preservation Children having a surviving parent, or other relatives willing to care for them, should be helped to remain with family whenever safely possible. Likewise, when families have been separated, reunification is of first priority whenever safely possible. Efforts made to keep struggling families together are a vital part of the Bible’s call to care for orphans and widows in distress. Residential Care Care within a family is our unequivocal ideal for children. Yet, we also honor the devoted care and protection provided by many quality residential facilities. We further recognize the essential role therapeutic group settings can play in the healing of children with extensive needs. We urge new programs to prioritize family-based care. We also encourage existing residential programs to move as close as possible to the ideal of family, and to promote familybased solutions whenever possible. Central Role of the Local Church The local church in every nation possesses both the Christian mandate and many other resources needed to care for the world’s orphans in a nurturing, relationship-rich environment. Every initiative to care for orphans should prioritize and honor the role of the local church, carefully pairing what foreign resources may be necessary with local believers willing to open their hearts and homes to orphans in their community. The Power of Unity Scripture overflows with calls for unity in the Body of Christ (Psalm 133; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:3, Colossians 3:11-15; Philippians 4:1-3). Such unity yields special strength (Ecclesiastes 4:9), welcomes the presence of Christ (Matthew 18:20), and confirms that Jesus was sent by God (John 17:20-23). Disagreements are inevitable and sometimes even necessary. Yet amidst all that strains unity, we commit to honoring each other above ourselves (Romans 12:10) – and labor in unison to see every orphan experience God’s unfailing love.
OVC research cafo.org/missions
8 Principles to Benefit Vulnerable Children & Families