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Beauty from the Ashes: Inspiring Stories of Hope from Our Family Homes

Sep 21, 2021 6:30:00 AM

In 2002, five young men who had just graduated from Taylor University mapped out a plan for a several-month trip to seek ministry and adventure in South Asia. One of their goals while there was to find an organization in need of volunteers to help serve in some capacity.

Among the group of travelers were three founding Love Justice board members, Mike, Bryan, and John. Upon their arrival, they were quickly drawn to the plight of the children they saw living on the streets. They quickly teamed up with an organization to help start a drop-in center for these vulnerable kids. john_mike_mountain_nepalPictured: All five Taylor graduates in Nepal

During their time in South Asia, Mike connected with a Nepali man who shared his vision of starting a children’s home for the orphaned and abandoned kids living on the streets—a vision that took hold of Mike’s heart and would become the beginning of an exciting journey. 

Upon returning to the States, Mike began discussing the idea of building a children’s home in Nepal with his church. That idea led to the creation of Salvation Children’s Home, Love Justice International’s very first family home. 

A vision becomes a reality

In September of 2004, Mike, Bryan, and John traveled back to visit the new home and witness firsthand how the vision God had placed in their hearts had become a reality. Mike recalls, “We flew back there to see the home for the first time. We were greeted by six children who were wide-eyed, and it was just amazing.”

kids_salvation_home_smiling_early_yearsJohn remembers having mixed emotions, sharing, “It was incredible to see these children and see how well they were doing and how great this home environment was. But it was heartbreaking to see the street children that we had worked with before. At that time, most of the street children had HIV. Many of the ones we had worked with had died, or their situation had just gone from bad to worse. So on the one hand, it was the best thing ever to visit our new children's home, but on the other hand, it was the worst thing ever to see the street children again. This sharp contrast convinced me that this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

It was then that John decided to stay permanently and began discussing with friends the possibility of starting an organization focused on reaching and empowering “the least of these.” 

Since the creation of that very first family home in 2004, 17 family homes have been formed, currently caring for 205 children in South Asia. With dedicated Christian parents, each home can provide whole-life care for up to 16 children. (Pictured: Salvation Family Home)

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Doug Dworak, LJI’s global ambassador, shares, “Over the time that I’ve been with Love Justice, I’ve seen the children’s ministry grow from starting Salvation family home to many homes. It has been incredible to watch that growth and to see how the children’s ministry has just thrived and expanded over the past years.”

The orphaned and abandoned

According to UNICEF, more than 15 million children have lost both their parents while many more have been abandoned by their parents. Children affected by such drastic circumstances are perhaps among the most vulnerable people in the world. Without adults to care for and protect them, their lives are ravished on the streets; they end up getting into drugs, forced labor, or prostitution or becoming victims of human trafficking.

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We believe that God has called us to serve these children by placing them in loving family homes where we strive to create a nurturing space so that they can thrive. We are committed to placing loving parents in each home; providing high-quality education and diet; and offering the time, space, and materials for our kids to live out the true purpose of childhood: play.

Studies in childhood development have identified many activities that are associated with positive outcomes in children. For example, if you want your child to grow up to be a well-rounded individual, you should do the following:

  • Provide a warm and loving environment.
  • Give frequent physical affection (especially for infants).
  • Provide adequate nutrition.
  • Talk to your child frequently and clearly at a level just above their current understanding.
  • Notice and respond to your child's emotional needs.
  • Provide a variety of play materials and adequate free time to use them.
  • Read to your child and provide access to books.
  • Ensure that your child has adequate nutrition and medical care.
  • Give your child high-quality education.
  • Communicate and consistently enforce clear boundaries.

Unfortunately, while these beneficial and nurturing activities are taken for granted in some cultures, they are wholly absent in others. At Love Justice, we are convinced that parenting practices are one of the ways that the traits that perpetuate poverty are passed down, and we are determined to help break this cycle through our family homes.

The vision for our family homes

family_homes_kids_smiling_early_yearsOur vision is to raise the next generation of difference makers in their families, communities, and nations by providing the most developmentally enriching environment that we can. We are committed to offering a holistic sponsorship intentionally designed to help fund and empower all aspects of each child’s upbringing, including: 

  • Loving, Christian parents who are investing in their lives.
  • A nurturing family environment.
  • Basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing, books, toys, personal hygiene items, etc.
  • Medical care and counseling.
  • Access to a computer and reading programs that are available within each home.
  • Regular attendance at an excellent school.
  • Community and church activities that play a vital role in their overall development.

Our ultimate goal is to successfully launch our children into the world to be independent, emotionally healthy, faithful, and engaged in their community. In order to ensure a successful transition to independence, our team works with each child to develop an individualized plan involving guidance counseling, vocational training or college, and a two-year life preparation curriculum. 

Ultimately, when we look at the children being cared for in our homes and compare them to a picture of what might have been had we not taken them in, we are reminded of the reason that our family homes were created. Watch the following video to see some inspiring smiles as a few of our children share what they would like to be when they grow up!

2020 When I Grow Up _ Evergreen Version

John, LJI’s founder and president, shares, “Your donations and your service and your prayers can make a tremendous impact in the lives of those who need it most. Jesus says, ‘Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.’ And He says that particularly about the least of these. We believe it’s our business to find out who the least of these are and where they are—and then intervene. I think you would be astounded by the impact you can make in their lives with a small amount of money.”

Meet Prabin from Salvation Home

As our children grow up, we are just starting to see graduates from the program move out and adjust to the real world by going to college, securing jobs, and getting married.

Since the inception of our family homes program, we have celebrated the graduation of nine men and women who are now contributing members of society and are in the process of becoming "difference makers” within their respective communities.prabin_family_homes_graduate

One of these graduates is Prabin. He is the ninth and most recent member to successfully complete the following three milestones:

  1. He moved out of his Love Justice family home and is now living on his own. 
  2. He completed his post-secondary program and earned a bachelor's degree.
  3. He has obtained financial independence and is no longer receiving funded assistance from Love Justice in any capacity.

Prabin was raised in our very first family home, Salvation Home. He spent 12 formative years there before moving out in January of 2018 and recently graduated from a university where he earned his bachelor's degree in finance with an emphasis in accounting. 

Currently, Prabin is working part-time as an accountant at an electricity office as well as at his local church and two of our family homes. However, he will soon take an exam that, if passed, will propel him into a full-time position at his current place of employment.

In addition, he is also completing a Bible program online, has plans to pursue a graduate degree in the near future, and is celebrating his recent marriage! We are so proud of Prabin and look forward to seeing him thrive as he pursues his dreams.

A Note from Our Child Transition Director 

“There are so many examples of the Holy Spirit healing children within Love Justice International's family homes. I've seen it happen repeatedly and with a bevy of children. All come to the homes with some level of trauma. The only thing that is unique from one child to the next is the level of trauma. I've seen children enter a home and refuse to speak, eat, laugh, or even smile. Children that refuse to make eye contact with you. Children who soil themselves throughout the day, cry through the night, or wake up throughout the night screaming from nightmares. Over time, though, all of these children begin to heal. Over time, the traumatic evidence so obvious in the beginning begins to dissipate. Most of these signs of trauma are eradicated completely.

“One example, of many, I choose to speak on is Amir*. As a very young child, he came to one of our family homes along with his brother, Sajit*. It wasn't long before both had to be placed in separate homes because of their constant fighting. Amir didn't speak much at all during most of his time at Salvation Home in Chitwan, Nepal. He was very angry. He lacked confidence, wouldn't project his voice when he did speak, and showed strong signs of social anxiety.

salvation_home_graduate_ashok“Today, though, everything has changed. Because of the love and stability he received from his houseparents, brothers, and sisters during his 11-year stint at the home, as well as the warmth he has felt by being enveloped by the Holy Spirit since his initial arrival, Amir has become a confident, calm, healthy, intelligent, and kind young man. He will be leaving to study in Europe very soon, after already being accepted into an accredited university and obtaining a student visa.

“Now, Amir projects his voice, looks you directly in the eye when speaking to you, smiles often, possesses a strong sense of humor, and has a spark in his eye that can only be described as the light of hope and health. There is no doubt in my mind that Amir will become a ‘difference maker for Christ’ within the community where he decides to reside upon his return from his studies abroad. He is yet another example of God restoring beauty from the ashes within LJI's family homes. What once was discarded as worthless trash has become a light that cannot be extinguished, an asset that will bring light and joy wherever he lives, a productive member of the same society that rejected him years ago.”

Looking to the future

Over the next three years, we would like to increase our impact in ministering to orphaned and abandoned children by preparing our family homes and The Dream School for expansion into at least one new country. However, we cannot do it alone!

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The only reason the vision of building Salvation Home became a reality and grew into the thriving family homes program that exists today is because people like you were compelled by God’s love and joined together to make it happen. 

Doug shares, “Every time I visit our family homes, when I get off the plane, I thank God that I’m taking with me every single person that’s a part of our ministry. And I want all of those people to know that what they do isn’t just about writing a check or saying a prayer. Those checks and those prayers are impacting very real individuals. I’ve had the opportunity to see the faces of children whose lives have been impacted by what God is doing through Love Justice, and I want our supporters to know they're making a big difference in those kids’ lives.”  

There is still much work to be done and children who need our love and care! Visit here to learn more about our sponsorship program and to meet the children currently in need of a sponsor. You can play a vital role in helping empower the future generation to rise up and become difference makers in their nations.

Learn More About Our Family Homes and The Children in Need of Sponsorship

*All content, data, and statistics current at the date and time of publishing. Some locations omitted and names changed for the security and privacy of those involved.

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