Reporting from the front lines


Sou praying a blessing over her kids, grown up from the homes, who visited her on a family holiday

It’s been a learning experience to work with an NGO, especially one that actually helps people. I’ve observed many throughout the years and I was dumbfounded by the amount of inefficiency and bureaucracy it involved to help someone. As a consultant, it drove me crazy. What made it worse was that it was accepted as the way of life. I’m sure this is a generalized statement that doesn’t affect every NGO but the many that I observed hadn’t quite differentiated themselves from this observation.

I feel as though I have seen many ups and downs while I’ve been here. Funding has been quite the topic, which I presume to be a headline for most NGOs. There are so many people to help and not enough money to go around. I think about my days in America, I considered helping but hadn’t always taken that extra step to do something about it. However, how was I really to judge whether or not to do it without any sort of investment in checking them out?

I love the heart of the leaders here because that’s exactly what they want you to do. The first place they took me after getting off the plane was their training center/church/orphan home/medical clinic/factory women’s dorm/etc. It’s a place for many things. Here, we not only got to see some of the coolest projects they are working on to step towards self-sufficiency but we got to meet some of these darn cute kids. I was surprised even on that day just how healthy they were, in all facets! I could see exactly where my money would go if I were to help and I wouldn’t have given a second look before I did it. Each day, I am more and more convinced of the legitimacy of this place.

Anyway, in a place like America, where our comforts are so convenient, it’s so easy to lose sight of the important things like helping the poor, weak and hopeless. Perhaps, we might go to a soup kitchen or something like that every once in a while. Here, on the front lines, I feel and sense the urgency of it all. It’s not just some kid thousands of miles away. It’s a kid that I’ve met and have gotten to know. It’s his/her life and care that depends on me to do my job to the best of my abilities. The sense of purpose is so much greater here than I’ve ever experienced before.

I realized the quality of a leader is often confirmed by his/her subordinates when trials occur. Recently, Ted has been on a trip to the states and Sou, his wife and co-leader, has been in charge of all the affairs here. A few days ago, Sou got sick and I realized just what kind of woman she is. I remember the days of being under a bad leader. A sick leader meant freedom and breathing room. Here, everyone congregated to their leader in a time of her trial. While on her sickbed unable to decipher what’s before her nose, I saw the boys who grew up in her homes standing watch on the porch in concern and intercession for Sou. People have prayed and visited. Two of her kids from the homes (who are now married and have 3 children, pictured above) even visited her on this holiday that celebrates families with gifts appropriate for a mother. This is all in a span of 24 hours or so… and I could tell you even more stories. The level of concern and care is truly family. It’s inspiring and gives you a new sense and value of family.

It’s one thing to “put your heart into the work” as Andrew Carnegie would say. But it’s completely something else putting your life into it. I have heard and seen their resolution to give up everything that has any value in the world, and they have, but especially sentimentally so that their children and their staff can be cared for. Such abandon!?

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3:8


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