Sep 08, 2015
“A national pastor from Zimbabwe came to our church and spoke about difficulties in his country, including the plight of orphans there. He said, ‘In my country, children are taking care of children.’ That resonated with my wife and me, and we sat there with heavy hearts. What do we do with this information?”
Today, Kendall Coffman is the executive director of Empty the Orphanage, a nonprofit organization in Bloomington, Illinois, that is committed not just to empty an orphanage but to fill families with children who need loving homes.
“God created families,” he said. “That’s where kids are nurtured.”
Kendall and a small team spent a week at an African orphanage that had fallen on hard times. Its physical, emotional, and spiritual needs were great. He recalled a pivotal encounter just as his team was preparing to leave.
“A boy came over to our car,” he said. “I’d noticed a bit of detachment all week from the kids, but this boy stepped right into the car and hugged me like a son and held on. Eventually he stepped away, and I closed the door. I was with three other men, and as we pulled away, there wasn’t a dry eye in the car. I was thinking, ‘I get to go home to a family, to a home and loving relationships. That boy will walk back into that orphanage.’ That day I made a commitment—I would not leave those kids.”
Kendall’s vision to confront the global orphan crisis involves two primary levels of partnership:
1. First-world pastors developing relationships with third-world pastors to enlarge their own vision for the world, its needs, and what is possible.
2. First-world churches partnering with third-world churches to provide material support, including child and family sponsorship that is key to keeping families together.
Kendall’s organization has chosen to pursue a third key partnership—working with Bethany’s Global Consulting to integrate best practices of child welfare in the work they are doing in Zimbabwe.
Bethany’s Global Consulting is backed by more than 70 years of child welfare experience. Bethany Global is engaged in more than 15 countries developing in-country foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. We provide child-welfare education, pre-placement training, and post-placement care. We also prepare our global partners to continue this work, empowering local families to care for orphans in their own communities.
“Our partnership with Bethany is so critical,” Kendall said. “Starting out, we had good intentions and a desire to see good things happen. We wanted the best for these children, but we lacked experience and expertise. A phrase that guided us from the beginning was ‘We want to do the best good that we can do.’”
Kendall Coffman spoke with Brian DeVos, Bethany’s senior vice president of child and family services, about his vision for orphan care in Zimbabwe and his organization’s partnership with Bethany. Learn more about Global Consulting at bethany.org/global-services.
Bethany’s Every Child audio podcast engages leading voices from ministries, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and the arts to discuss issues relevant to children and families. Topics often include child welfare, family preservation, social justice, and culturally appropriate social services in developing countries.