Asia's Hope

Orphans Get Moms & Dads Through ‘Asia’s Hope’ (+podcast)

Sunday, December 02, 2018

(Air1 Closer Look – George Rath/Marya Morgan) -- Hundreds of abandoned children in Cambodia, Thailand and India now live happily in local orphanages operated by Asia’s Hope, where local Christians live with them and call them sons and daughters. “Most people have just given up on the idea that orphanages can be good for kids,” says ministry co-founder John McCollum who points to the success of children raised in their family-style homes. “At Asia’s Hope we’re seeing 90-percent of our kids on track to graduate high school.”

John McCollum is himself an adoptive dad to children from Asia, and on a missions trip several years ago he began to deeply explore conditions for orphans in that part of the world. From that concern arose his desire to care for as many abandoned kids as possible, and preferably in their own countries.  One by one, group homes were acquired and staffed, and then something unexpected began to happen. McCollum recalls, “when Seng You, the pastor would talk about the kids, he would say, ‘my son needs to go to the doctor,’ or ‘my daughter needs to get her bicycle fixed,’ and he wasn’t talking about his biological son, he was talking about one of the Asia’s Hope sons.” McCollum calls the caretaker-child bonding process ‘magical’ and confesses “we thought we were just building a good orphanage -- what we saw is that God was building a family.”

The success of family-style orphan care depends on key factors. Only indigenous Christians willing to commit to Asia’s Hope kids for their entire childhood are hired as parents, “and we hire a couple of other staff to work as aunts and grandmas to live there” as well. The children stay in the same home with the parents from the time they’re admitted to whenever they graduate high school or university.  "We get to say to these kids ‘you are of infinite value to God… and here’s a mom and dad that will stay with you throughout your entire childhood because you are that important.’”

The unique work of Asia’s Hope has gotten the attention of global orphan care advocates, as several organizations have contacted McCollum to ask him how they do what they do. “I’ve gotten calls from all over the world…Zambia, Pakistan, Haiti, Guatemala...I believe God is doing something with this model of family-style care.”

Funding for Asia’s Hope is grass-roots, supported mostly by individual churches who ‘adopt’ one of their care homes.  “I have a vision for every church in America to relate to a community of orphans someplace else in the world,” says McCollum, who boldly hopes it would be “as essential as worship band or a youth group or teaching ministry. Where people when they go to a new church would say, ‘so -- what orphans are you taking care of?’”

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