In everything we do, we seek to serve the whole person: physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Whether addressing the needs of a vulnerable child, the challenges facing a family in poverty, or the issues preventing a community from thriving, we deal with specific problems with the understanding that each issue interacts with and impacts others. In this series, we focus on one specific facet of the complex challenges facing those in need around the world.
There is no greater passion at Cross International than to care for vulnerable children. It’s at the heart of everything we do. While we care for all those in deep need around the world, these little ones uniquely need our focused attention and commitment. Even without a global pandemic like COVID-19 or a natural disaster, these precious lives face tremendous challenges. For that reason, every ministry we support has the ultimate goal of benefiting those at greatest risk: vulnerable children.
You may not be familiar with the term ‘vulnerable children.’ It is used to describe kids at high risk of lacking adequate care and protection. Often, these children are orphans, either because one or both parents have died, or—in the case of ‘social orphans’—because they’ve been abandoned by parents who are living but unable or unwilling to support them. These precious little ones have no reliable social safety network to depend on to protect them. You may know of vulnerable children in your own community, whether as the result of abuse, divorce, or unemployment. Consider the additional risks vulnerable children face in developing areas of the world. For example, lack of food, clean water, and adequate housing can lead to illness, keeping kids from the education they need to support themselves in the future. During times of uncertainty like we are facing with the coronavirus, these children have no one to look after them. These situations affect us like we imagine they affect you: they break our hearts and drive us to action.
Quick action is needed, but there isn’t a quick fix. Supporting these kids requires a long-term plan that addresses the complexity of the problems with integrated solutions. Our approach meets vulnerable children’s immediate needs for nutritious food, clean water, safe homes, healthcare, and education. But it doesn’t stop there. We also consider the ability of families and communities to provide ongoing, stable environments for these little ones—not only during childhood, but also to provide the promise of opportunities when they grow up. Perhaps most importantly, we support parents and families facing crisis in order to help prevent the problems that lead to children being abandoned in the first place, keeping families thriving and together, where they belong.
As you can see, this is a big task. That’s why orphans and vulnerable children are a strategic priority for Cross International. Our focus on these children is a pervasive and all-encompassing theme for what we do with our ministry partners. With your support, these ministry efforts not only help kids thrive, they help families flourish and communities get stronger.
Many of our ministry partnerships directly serve children who are vulnerable. Orphanage and childcare ministry partners provide homes for orphaned or abandoned children, often placing them in family-like groups where they can feel secure and supported. Many of our ministry partners provide feeding programs alongside educational services for children, nourishing both their bodies and their minds. Special education and physical therapy for those with unique challenges or disabilities further care for those who otherwise would not receive the help they need. Often—and by design—these ministry partners extend their services to benefit not only vulnerable children, but also other children in the community in need of assistance.
Ministry partners providing family and community services also benefit vulnerable children by strengthening the social networks around kids, providing stability and opportunity. This helps children who are already at risk, as well as preventing situations that might result in children being abandoned. Vocational training, adult literacy programs, and micro-loans help parents gain the economic strength and stability they need to build thriving families. Our ministry partners often provide training for parents to help them understand how to care for their children’s health and wellbeing. Community services, such as medical clinics, medicines and medical donations, clean-water wells, and water delivery systems, all create healthier, stronger communities. And that directly impacts vulnerable children in the area as well.
When it comes to helping these vulnerable children, we are compelled by the need we see and by our belief–based on years of experience and evidence–that we can make a difference for these little ones. Perhaps more importantly, we’re compelled by the consistent call in the Bible to protect and care for those who are orphans. With the current C19 pandemic, our work is both more important than ever and more challenging than ever. Will you partner with us in answering the call and responding to both the need and the opportunity? We would be honored to partner with you in serving these precious vulnerable children!