Where Are Our Christian Values?

Over the past several weeks, we’ve introduced you to the new Feed the Children. We’ve told you that our future lies with the children. The young without limits. The spirited who dream big. The hopeful who envision a better world, a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

We’ve told you that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles and that it takes all of us in the fight: donors, experts, organizations, communities and leaders.

But we haven’t yet told you more about values. At Feed the Children, these values motivate us:

Challenge convention: we believe that a future without hungry children is possible.

Defend dignity: we believe in treating each child and family in the communities where we work with value and worth.

Champion partnership: we believe collaboration is the only way to end childhood hunger.

Value every donor: we believe in donors playing an active role in ending childhood hunger.

Drive accountability: we believe in making changes when something isn’t working and building on the success when it is.

When some look at this list they may ask, “What happened to the word ‘Christian?’ Wasn’t ‘Christian’ one of your values before? Are you no longer a Christian organization?

To answer these questions, we need to tell you bit more of our story.

In 1979, a group of Christian leaders sensed a calling to care for, protect, and feed children in need around the world. They read the exhortations of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25 to feed “the hungry” and give water “to the thirsty” and provide “clothes” to those without.

In response, these Christians knew they needed to act. How could they not? Collectively, they began raising support and organizing leaders toward this cause, eventually founding the organization called Feed the Children in their hometown of Oklahoma City.

For over 35 years, Feed the Children has served thousands of communities all over the world and in the United States motivated by this same fact—Jesus teaches all of us to look after the most vulnerable citizens of this world.

feeding in Tanzania

And we’ve done so without discrimination. We’ve fed children with Christian parents. We’ve given water to children in Muslim nations. We’ve helped children learn in the slums of Central America. We’ve given children permission to dream big for their future in America’s inner cities.

We’ve done so because it is the right thing to do. How can you see a hungry kid and turn away? Jesus couldn’t. And many of our employees have joined our team out of their own faith calling. They work tirelessly on behalf of the children not only because they believe in the mission that no child go to bed hungry but because it is what Jesus said to do.

This is our faith story: Feed the Children is a show, not tell, organization.

The great saint of the church, Francis of Assisi once said,  “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

This is why you no longer see the word “Christian” in our values statement. We believe we don’t need it.

In fact, we believe all of our value statements reflect who Jesus was and what he taught:

Didn’t Jesus challenge convention when he overthrew the money tables in the temple courts?

Didn’t Jesus defend dignity when he pushed the unlikely to the front of the line: the women, the children, and the sick?

Didn’t Jesus champion partnership when he chose 12 followers to journey alongside him for his teaching ministry on earth?

Didn’t Jesus value every donor when he taught the 5,000+ gathered on the mount and then fed them a plentiful meal too?

Didn’t Jesus drive accountability when he challenged the popular teachers of the day who were more interested making a dollar than they were caring for souls?

For these reasons and many more, our team is proud of our brand values. To live into a mission that loves, protects and defends kids is a worthy and exciting calling.

We believe the world needs more Christians who put feet to their faith and act on what they believe. Or as James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God, but do what it says.”

This is most what we want you to know: Feed the Children is motivated by Jesus’ teachings every day. But you won’t find us congratulating ourselves from the mountaintops. With every child we feed, with every parent and caregiver of children we empower, with every community we engage with hope, we seek to BE Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

Finding Hope Together: In Celebration of World Autism Day

How many of us are raising or know a child with autism? Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a brain disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control that 1 out of every 68 children worldwide is affected.

Though the diagnostic numbers of this condition with a wide spectrum of effects are on the rise, parents who have a child with autism in the United States often face a difficult and lonely parenting journey. These parents are overwhelmed long before the diagnosis, but learning that a child has autism only adds to that feeling. Many parents describe themselves as depressed, frustrated, and worn out to the point of having nothing left by their child’s patterns of unpredictable behavior.

For parents of autistic children in Africa, the challenges are even greater. In African nations like Kenya, raising a child with any special needs brings a huge stigma with it. Many people in this part of the world believe that parents did something wrong or are some how cursed if their child’s physical or emotional state is anything less than perfect.

This means that parents with autistic children, just like parents of children with other disabilities, quickly become outcasts—with few resources offered by their community leaders to help raise their child or children. They have few places to turn to for life-giving support.

Feed the Children–Kenya loves children with disabilities. We adamantly oppose such prejudice and want parents of children, no matter their child’s challenges, to have the resources they need to parent well.

In celebration of World Autism Day on April 2, Feed the Children’s Dagoretti Children Centre (DCC) hosted an event in Nairobi for parents and caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

More than twenty parents who have autistic children traveled from the surrounding communities to attend the event facilitated by Feed the Children staff and by Stephen Muga, the rehabilitation coordinator.  Parents came with their autistic children and shared with one another the challenges they were facing.

“These mothers and fathers are not only parents, but they are therapists, psychologists, mentors,” Stephen said. “Their work never ends!”

DSCN2544Feed the Children–Kenya hoped that the workshop would help break down barriers and improve both acceptance and awareness of the disorder by educating and empowering parents to work with their children. The workshop presented parents and caregivers with valuable strategies to help them create a calmer and more conducive home environment for their children.

Some of the parents confessed to being confused on how to handle their child.

“What do I do when my child does not respond to my directions?” one mother asked.

Stephen took the parents through the signs that indicate a child has autism and at the end of the day, parents and caregivers had learned to identify triggers of unwanted behavior, structure situations to prevent avoidable behavioral problems, communicate clearly, encourage cooperation through the child’s interest and choose the right diet for the child.

Parents had the opportunity to interact closely with their children through different activities such as arranging letters to form words, arranging shapes (most of the children were drawn to circular objects), and inserting string through beads to make traditional necklaces.

The message of the workshop was simple: what autistic children need most are parents who accept their children, create a support group, and cultivate an autism-friendly environment at home. With these factors, the child will thrive.

DSCN2583By the end of the activity-packed day, all of the parents had decided to form ongoing support groups to share their experiences and encourage other parents who were skeptical of talking about their autistic children. The group chose the mission statement, “Together we are strong!

Feed the Children–Kenya was so happy to facilitate this workshop!

Love Notes Delivered

In February, we asked you to help us share our love with the children of our orphanages notes of love and support in response to our blog post, “Love Does Not Conquer All.”

Your response was overwhelming and wonderful!

We received so many notes of kindness and support for the children in our care.

Recently, we were able to personally deliver many of your messages to our children’s center in Nairobi, Kenya. Soon we will do the same for the children we serve in Honduras.

We believe the joy on the faces of these photos speak for themselves. Thanks again for helping us love the children so well!

image

IMG_0165

IMG_0176

IMG_0194

IMG_0190

IMG_0182

IMG_0173IMG_0179