Family

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My family is a blessing to me. They support my efforts to lead the ministry of Remember the Children in ways I never imagined. We have loved our times serving together. We have made deep and life-lasting friendships in Romania, and it has truly become our second home. But my wife and girls sacrifice a lot with my continual absence from their lives, and that doesn’t go unnoticed by me.  I love how supportive they are of my time away doing whatever needs to be done to advance the work we are doing in Romania.

We have come to a milestone in the ministry life of Remember the Children, and that is celebrating 20 years since my first adventure into the country of Romania. At that time, I never knew how deeply it would impact my life, nor did I ever dream that a ministry like Remember the Children would evolve. I have been amazed at the numbers when I look back.  Hundreds of people have travelled with me to serve in Romania. Thousands of children’s lives have been transformed through these efforts. We have also had the privilege to help in the start and assist in the development of 12 churches. We are presently helping in the development of the Houses of Hope for orphans. But the staggering number to me is the millions of dollars that our friends and supporters have given through Remember the Children to bless the lives of those we serve. I’m grateful for the many people who have believed in my simple vision of bringing faith, hope, and love to those that have been forgotten.

But this summer was extra special after all the years of doing this, because my sister Carolyn and her husband Steve joined me and Gerri for a week of serving and encouraging our partners in Romania. We had the privilege to meet with all of them, pray with them, share meals together, share in times of laughter and good conversation, and Steve even preached for one of our partners in an evening service. If you hang around me long enough, one of my personality traits is to not really talk about what I do. I don’t know how to explain it, but deep down I just believe that I am doing what God purposed me to do with my life. It is an awesome privilege to do it, and it is a great gift to have a family that supports it.  However, I was humbled to listen to my Romanian colleagues share with Carolyn and Steve the importance of the ministry of Remember the Children.  There is something that I hear differently when the ministry is being shared to others by those that work alongside of me.  It was overwhelming to listen to them, but I was grateful that my family got to hear how significant Remember the Children has been with those with whom I share my life.

I don’t know about the future but right now I’m forever thankful for the last twenty years, and hopeful for greater things in the next twenty.

Andy Baker
Executive Director

Pray Bold. Act Bold.

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“Break my heart for what breaks Yours.”

I have prayed this prayer many times, but I have been challenged to live by the motto Pray Bold. Act Bold. This stems from a story I read once:

There were two farmers in a land that was cursed by a horrible drought. Each farmer knew that if rain did not come soon, they would be unable to provide for their families and possibly not make it through the winter months. Both farmers were Christians, so they decided to call out to God for help. The first farmer sat in his study, day after day…night after night, fervently praying. He prayed standing up, he prayed from his knees. He fasted for many days, hoping that God would hear his prayers. The second farmer also prayed fervently. He dedicated large amounts of his day to asking God to provide for his family and bring the rain. He then would go out into his fields every afternoon and work to prepare the ground for the rain he trusted would come. He worked the dry, hard soil, so that it would be more receptive to the water. He even planted some of the seeds he had, so that as soon as the rain came they would begin to grow. Looking at these two farmers, which trusted God would provide more?

The one who not only prayed bold prayers, but accompanied those prayers with bold action, trusting in the goodness and provision of the Father.

I want to be like that second farmer. I want to pray bold prayers for the kingdom. Prayers that line myself up with the heart and passions of God. I also want to live a bold life, trusting in His guidance and provision. So, when I pray “break my heart for what breaks Yours,” how do I actively arrange myself to be broken by God…to fall in love with what HE loves?

I don’t think there is a closer place to God’s heart than when you are LOVING THE NATIONS (ours included). After all, THAT was His entire purpose in sending His Son to die on the cross…that all people of the world would know and love Him. Want your heart to ache for the same things Christ’s heart aches for? Love the nations. Learn about the peoples of the world. See their pain, poverty, and heartache as well as their beauty, joy, and victories. Fall in love with culture and language. Long to feed the hungry and fight for the freedom of those in sexual captivity. Hear the cry of the homeless and orphaned.

Respond. With. Love.

May we not only be people of bold prayers, but also bold action. May we hear God’s call to love the nations. This would be a GOOD thing.

Grace Hansen
Director of Operations

Look Into Their Eyes

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   You walk into the village overwhelmed by the poverty and the living conditions. One room homes with a single bed that sleeps five. A fire pit for cooking and a child’s swimming pool to do laundry in. Food graciously placed out as an offering but with flies swarming around. You wonder are you really making a difference in this place? Can anyone make a difference?

    I just returned from ten days in Romania meeting with several of the partners that we are working with. Our goal is to bring faith, hope and love to the children of Romania. All of our strategic partners work at spreading the gospel message through afterschool programs, vacation bible schools and discipleship programs. Monthly in the villages of Santandrei food bags are given out as a gesture of love. Simply the message is that we care. We are not asking anything in return except for chance to be there and to pour into their lives. By showing them the love that Christ first showed to us we begin to offer them hope in something better.

    Allow me to share a visit with you. As a group we pulled into one of the poorer villages. The children are the first to come out to see what we are doing or perhaps bringing. They readily great us with hugs and hand holding. The parents stand off to one side just watching us. We gather the children around and begin to sing some simple songs. Our partner here, Danny, has visited many times so they are familiar with the songs and readily join in. They enjoy the movements and laugh at some of our clumsy attempts to dance. Next we tell a Bible Story and share a memory verse. The children are anxious to repeat the verse and receive a treat. Next we have them do a simple craft to reinforce the story and then end with some games. If you look past the poverty you could be in any neighborhood in the United States. These are children just looking to be loved and embraced. If you look into their eyes you can see that. All they really want to know is that someone cares for them. Simply by spending some time with them you begin to build a level of trust and hope. You begin to be an agent of change in their lives. This is what our partners are doing in Romania and why we are coming along side of them.

     We recently opened a new sponsorship program in these villages. The picture above is Vanesa and she was our first sponsored child there. I had the privilege of presenting her a letter from her sponsor Melissa. All of the children gathered around as Danny read her the letter in Romanian. Slowly a smile crept onto her face and her eyes began to light up. She felt valued and you could see it in her eyes. A connection had been made and change was beginning. This is what our ministry is and it is making a difference in Romania.

Written by: Chuck Guth, Director of Child Sponsorship

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408 Days

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The love affair first began in the summer of 2013. What I expected to be a quick three week trip left an impact on my life that is unforgettable. This trip lead to me spending the last three summers  navigating down bumpy roads into dusty villages all in hopes of coming face to face with sweet, innocent, and caring eyes once more. Every summer until now. Is has been 408 days since my feet were covered in Romanian dirt. 408 days since my eyes have seen the rows of sunflowers lining the cities. 408 days since I’ve tasted Momma’s cooking and 408 days since I felt tiny hands gripping to my palm. It has been 408 days. Four Hundred and Eight. That may not seem like a long time to you, but it feels like an eternity to me. You see, before the trip is over, before I leave any village, the kiddos are always asking when I am coming back. They cling to your neck, and hold you tightly. They desperately plead for one more round of duck duck goose, one more song, one more chance to feel like a kid. Every time, I want to promise them the world. I want to promise them, that I will see them soon, that there will always be another round of duck duck goose, that there are many more songs we can sing. But I can’t. I can’t promise them another game of duck duck goose, or another sing-a-long to Father Abraham, because regardless of how great my intentions may be, life happens. Life happens, our plans get disrupted and then come June a beautiful young girl is waiting to chase you in circles and ends up disappointed. Disappointed because you too told her you were coming back.

At the end of last summer I had every hope that I would be back running, chasing, laughing, and singing come June. I had every hope that I would hold their sweet hands, and let them make a mess out of my hair as they practiced braiding. I had every hope that I would be next to them once more.  

I am beyond grateful I that I didn’t commit to seeing them this summer. Now don’t get me wrong, I have made my fair share of mistakes while partaking in international ministry, but the wise advice from our dear friend Andy Baker is a nugget of truth I will always carry. He told me to never promise the next time you will see them. He told me broken promises are detrimental when it comes to our long term ministry efforts with Remember the Children.

I didn’t commit to seeing them, but I committed to them in a different way. As I journeyed back home from my second trip, I wanted to do more. I wanted to commit to them every day. I knew there were a few ways I could go about doing this. I could up and move to Romania, (which I heavily considered) or I could financially support those who were already there. I contacted Andy and asked what I could do. We were on the phone when he mentioned that House of Hope had officially adopted a very special young girl (whose name is withheld for security) and asked if I would partner with Mihai and Dana financially. He told me for $35 a month she would live in an environment that provided 3 hearty meals on the table, and Gospel driven truth in her heart daily. She would have the opportunity to learn about Jesus, and sleep in a warm bed every night.

Y’all for $35 a month I could keep this sweet toddler far far away from an orphanage and in the arms of love, kindness and grace. For $35 a month I could commit to this little girl, even when I am 6,295 miles away. For $35 a month I could put back the new shirt from Target, and let her pick up a backpack full of school supplies. For $35 a month her life will have a trajectory that looks different from the estimated 100,000+ orphans currently living in Romania. For just over $1 a day I get to make a difference in her life.

We can’t always make the 30+ hour trek to and from Romania, but if we are willing there are other ways to support these kids. If we are willing to step away from our comforts, the impact we can have is unmatched. Remember the Children will always need individuals to volunteer their time to physically be the hands and feet of Jesus, but they also need people who are willing to open their wallet, and make the choice to contribute to the work that is being done daily. I know I will be back there one day where I will chase these sweet kids in circles, and become the next best jungle gym. We will dance and sing, and color with chalk. But until then, I can find peace knowing that because of my financial contribution, a sweet toddler will sleep easy tonight.

If you are interested in learning more about child sponsorships, or other ways that you can partner with Remember the Children check out http://www.remember-the-children.org/sponsor-a-child/ and see what opportunity and child is waiting for you!

Xo,

Katrina Spencer
RtC Team Member
2013, 2014, 2015

Check out more of Katrina’s writing by visiting her BLOG!

For Freedom

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This week we celebrated the incredible freedom we enjoy in this country because of the sacrifice of generations of soldiers. It was a powerful week. Like most aspects of my life, the 4th of July did not go as expected because of the simple fact that I am a mother to a 6 month old. We had plans to spend the evening with friends. I looked forward to enjoying good food, great company, shared stories and laughter, board games, and of course…fireworks! The evening was one of fun for sure, but it didn’t look like the Norman Rockwell painting I had in my imagination. After an amazing dinner, my beautiful daughter decided she needed a little more focused attention on her. I took her into the other room in hopes to calm her, feed her, and help her fall asleep for the evening so that I could return to our friends. For whatever reason, she struggled that evening. She struggled through her food (she has reflex issues…the last lingering health struggles from being 2.5 months premature.) and fought sleep as hard as she could. I realized that the rest of my evening would be spent holding and singing to this precious child who needed me in that moment. I got something to drink, turned the Bethel Worship station on in Pandora, and settled down in a chair with Elizabeth. We listened to the fireworks outside and the music in the room with us. Instead of being frustrated that I couldn’t take part in the evening’s activities at that point, I realized it was a unique opportunity to both treasure my daughter and reflect on the beauty of our freedom.

My thoughts were drawn passed our national freedom…passed the sacrifice of our soldiers who lay down their lives daily on our behalf. I walked deeper and deeper in my mind through the concept of freedom. Finally, I ended up at the place where true freedom was born for us: the cross. Galatians 5:1 kept cycling through my thoughts, “It is for freedom we have been set free!”

We haven’t been given the gift of freedom so that we could sit comfortably in our homes, ignoring the outside world. Christ didn’t make the ultimate sacrifice in order for me to enjoy a life centered around me. It was FOR FREEDOM that I was set free. What does that mean?

It means that our freedom journey doesn’t stop with us.

It means that we are meant for something more.

It means that we were set free in order to be vessels of freedom for others.

Wow.

I was set free with a purpose! My chains were broken so that I could run through the prison, breaking the chains of others!

How do you want to continue the pages of your legacy of freedom? How do you want to give freedom to others? Do you struggle to come up with an answer to that question?

What if you invested in children! What if you chose to give hope and love to those who will grow up to be educators, politicians, moms and dads….the future world shapers. I firmly believe that the youth of this generation have the potential to be incredible world changers and kingdom workers. They have the capacity to change the trends of culture and society, to take the bible into every language and people group, to take on the challenges of world poverty and hunger…

We CAN make a difference! Check out www.remember-the-children.org today, and see how you can make this vision a reality.

Friends, it is for freedom that you have been set free.

Written By: Grace Hansen, Director of Operations

Learning to Trust

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I look forward to the summer each year, because I’m usually in Romania engaged with lots of summer activities. What makes it even more fun is that each summer we invite college/university students to join us for an adventure serving alongside of me and our ministry partners in our GlobalGen program. For many students it is their first time outside of the United States, and to “drop” them into a foreign culture with differing customs, foods, but mostly language can be quite unsettling.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us in 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Verse four drives it deeper, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Trust is a HUGE issue for many that journey with us, because everything that they know or control on a daily basis is taken away from them. Each day is scheduled, each menu is set, each activity is organized, and in the midst of it a different language is being heard in every direction. Some people embrace this opportunity as a learning experience, but others go into a slight panic, try to gain some sense of control, and then varying emotions begin to surface.

I tend to believe that our true character or maybe our deepest struggles begin to rise out of us when we lose control of our ability to make our own decisions and we have to depend on someone else to help us through. A lot of times, team members who join us for a trip experience try to regain some of that control, and most of the time what rises up is a touch of anger. When we can’t control each detail of our lives we can become unsettled, yet a life that is fully engaged with God is told to let go and to trust God for everything. That is probably the deepest lesson one learns through a mission experience, is that he/she has to release his/her life to another in order to fully engage in the experience.

But isn’t that how our daily life should be? Should we not be letting go of our daily existence to allow God to bring into our lives those moments where we can truly experience Him by allowing Him to guide each of our decisions. Letting go, trusting, releasing control, is not easy. In fact, to me it is a daily choice. Are we truly able to surrender ourselves to allow God to use us in each and every moment to be His loving presence to a world that needs to experience what true love is? Most of the time that involves letting go of what we tend to trust, and allowing God to do as He will.

I like to see people discover this truth. I don’t always like the process that involves them wrestling through it, but I love the result of life transformation that can be reached on the other side.

My prayer this summer for our students is that they will wrestle with their dependency, and find a way to truly release their lives in order that they might be able to trust in God and the plans he has for their lives in dependence with Him

Written by: Andy Baker, Executive Director

www.remember-the-children.org

Into the Waves

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“You make me BRAVE. You call me out beyond the shore, into the waves. No fear can hinder now the promises you made. Because love in wave after wave, crashes over me. For you are for us and you are not against us. Champion of heaven, You made a way for all to enter in.” -Lyrics from You Make Me Brave, by Hillsong  LISTEN TO SONG>

Do you ever hear lyrics to a song and think, “that is beautiful, but what does that mean in REAL life?” I had one of those moments this week. I often listen to worship music to calm my baby daughter when she is upset. It is powerful to watch how music calms her body and eases her stress. I can sense this same power in the way the music moves me. It has a way of taking words and driving them deeper into our souls. As I sat listening and rocking my daughter, these words stuck out to me. They played over and over in my mind. I found myself both lost in their depth and wondering, how do I live these words out for REAL? Its wonderful to say “you make me brave and call me out to live life in the rough waves, trusting you…” but how do I actually live out that truth? Do I see in my own life where God is calling me to the waves? Do I recognize the fulfillment of His promises in my life? When He promises never to leave us, to be our strength through persecution, to be our hope for the future. When He declares that He is the freedom for the captives and oppressed. Do I walk in these promises daily? Do I let them transform the way I see people around me? Do I let them deepen my love for people in my community and around the world?

RtC has the opportunity to love those the world has chosen to forget. We partner with servant-hearted men and women who have dedicate their lives to living out real, raw, authentic love for the children and families around them in Romania. I am humbled as I hear stories of hope and transformation rising from the communities they live in. Our God is a PROMISE-KEEPING God. He does not change or fail in anyway. He is not a shifting sand, unstable and unfit for a foundation. Our God is able and willing. His love knows no bounds and He has lavished it over us.

You can be apart of these stories in a powerful way. You can sponsor a child today and make an impact on their life that will go beyond you. You can join us on a trip to Romania and see first hand what God is doing! Or check out the Boxes of Hope program to see how you can be a vessel of hope this Christmas to the children of Romania.

You. Can. Pray.

Pray for boldness in the lives of those serving in Romania. Pray for the hearts of those they serve, that God would move in a huge way. Pray for the hope of Christ to sweep over Romania.

How is God calling you into the waves today? I encourage you to venture out into those waters, knowing that you can TRUST the Promise-Keeping God!

Written by: Grace Hansen, Director of Operations

 

 

Through the Eyes of Katrina

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Today’s Story of Hope comes from our friend, Katrina Spencer. She first came to Romania 3 years ago and it captured her heart from the beginning. She is coming to the end of a month long trip with RtC and has some hope to share! 

Remember the Children (RtC) never ceases to amaze me in the relationships they have established with groups and individuals in Romania. It is through these relationships that I have been able to create my own friendships, memories, and experiences. RtC has forever changed my life and I could not be more grateful. With this being my third summer, it has been the greatest joy to see the fruit blossoming from the previous years. I have watched children grow year after year both physically, and in their relationship with Jesus. I have been able to make connections with our Romanian hosts. My days have been filled with conversations that have been very informative and are teaching me more and more about the culture, the history, and the reason why Romania is the way it is.

Walking in and out of orphanages, group homes, and even maternity wards has been challenging but it brings me peace knowing that today they were loved. They know that someone cares about them, is praying for them, and is willing to take time to visit them. I know that the language barrier can prevent deep conversations, but that a smile can equally communicate hope. I am so thankful for these moments, and will be seeking more of them always. The ministry of presence is so powerful. 

During our travels this month, we met so many people, saw so many smiles, and received countless hugs. We shed tears, shared in laughter, and communicated love in all that we did. It is my prayer for the Romanian people that each family may know God. That they may see there is such a bigger purpose than what they believe. I pray that they will continue to seek more than what they have now.

I want to bring each of you reading this here with me.

I have yet to encounter something more heart wrenching than the grip of tiny hands on the back of your neck, clinging with all their might, begging you to stay, and watching tears fill their eyes as you give them one more kiss. Every time I leave a village I imagine the next time I will go back, and I can say with confidence that I will be back. As heartbreaking as some days may be, there is nothing more rewarding than days spent in Gypsy communities. I am so thankful that the Lord has given me a deep seeded passion to love the orphans and the forgotten of this world. I fall more and more in love with this country, this culture, and each community every time I am here. These children show me what is means to be loved unconditionally, and teach me how to live selflessly. Friends, I have never been loved so well by complete strangers. The kids and adults alike are so welcoming.

They don’t care about my past, and they don’t care about what I plan to do next. They care about me, in this moment, and love me the best way they know how.

It was an honor to be the hands and feet of Jesus for the last three weeks. As I continue to pray for these children, communities, and this country I ask that you will join me. Please pray for safety; for opportunity, and for a deeper understanding and desire to know Jesus.

Written By: Katrina Spencer, Guest Author

Keep up with Katrina’s ministry in Romania by visiting her website!

A Mix of Mission and Music

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Hey, I’m Serena, a Singer Songwriter from England who loves the work that Remember the Children does. I have been visiting Romania for the last 10 years and it’s safe to say I have fallen in love with it and all its children!

That’s why when I bumped into Andy Baker in 2010 I knew we would make great friends. He took me out to see the projects that RTC were involved in and I knew I wanted to know more. Later on in 2013, 14 and 15, I made trips with Andy at Christmas to deliver gifts to the children in various homes and villages.

On one of the days we visited a state orphanage where the children ran to us to play with, to be loved and to get a hug. I have experienced this many times before but this was one of the first times for me in a state orphanage.

I remember leaving the room where we were playing with them for a little just to take a deep breath and look around. Taking in the bare little bedroom that about 8 of them shared I found myself in floods of tears and crying out to God for these kids to be saved and to know His love for them. I also desperately wanted to do something to change things practically for them.

But the feeling of being able to do nothing or very little left me feeling powerless and a bit lost. As we drove away for the second time I remember the feeling so clearly. Leaving them without sharing Jesus with them, without being able to give them hope for an escape was too much to bear. Only a visit to their existence and then to return to mine. It hit me like being punched in the stomach. Such injustice and an inability to find a solution. I hated the feeling of not being able to do anything.

Nothing…

Hang on though. Nothing is not an option. I live in a world of possibilities, this is what I’ve been taught. Nothing is not an option. There is always something to do. These words came to my mind – “A small voice and a big clap of thunder” the ONLY thing I can do is pray. Do I believe it will make a difference?

We later went to visit House of Hope where Pastor Mihai and his family have taken in 25 of those very children and started to love and care for them. This wasn’t nothing, this was everything. These weren’t the love starved children I had seen that afternoon, they were safe. And this safety was marked in their smiles, their hugs and their joy. I knew there must be a way I could help. Here were children rescued from loneliness and hurt and introduced to Jesus all in one house. My brain got a thinking!

Long story short, a bit of singing, a pizza topped with french fries and a few chats later, Andy and I hatched a plan to make my dream of mixing music with mission a reality. Last year I recorded my first CD, Giant Heart with all the proceeds going to House of Hope. So far it has raised over $14,000 in CD sales and Child Sponsorships. This year I am recording my second CD and I hope it will be as successful.

I am so grateful to be able to make a small difference by donating the proceeds of my music to House of Hope but I also need to believe that my prayers and yours can do just as much, and most likely more.

Please donate or sponsor a child, but please pray too, pray for those children still living in darkness that they would one day be rescued into an eternity with Jesus too.

Download Giant Heart on Itunes or buy and donate on Bandcamp

Guest Author: Serena Dalton, Singer/Songwriter

Follow SERENA on:

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Sometimes We Just Need a Chance…

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Life. is. difficult.

I hear that a lot, especially from people I have had the opportunity to assist in recent years. I am sure every generation has had what seemed like insurmountable difficulties, but as I enter my sixth decade of life, I do believe this is the toughest era of my own lifetime.  From a very early age, I can remember the presence of encouraging people in my life. My parents, my teachers, my pastors, and other significant adults invested in me, and I benefited from a depth of social and spiritual capital that helped me develop into the person I am today.

I know the same opportunities are present today, but they come with a greater risk. Can we trust every adult that our child may encounter in his/her everyday life? We do question, we do protect, and we do fear a lot in today’s world. The moral foundation of our own culture is waning, and at times we wonder if things will ever get better.  We even see our own political system drowning in distrust, and we have a lot of apathy and reasonable concern for our upcoming national elections.

It is easy to get frustrated and to just give up, but we have a generation coming behind us that needs us to INVEST in their lives.

We can be people of change who begin to help build great character into the lives of the young people who are growing each and every day right before our eyes.

I see it in the local church today. The church seems to have become consumer driven, and the focus of loving and serving others in Jesus’ name is being lost. The trend has shifted more towards, “what can I get,” rather than “what can I do.” We need to be a people of action and we need to build into the lives of young people that are growing up lost because no one is helping them find the direction for their lives.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6:10, that “…whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.” Darius is pictured above.  His life is tough, and from what I can see, he just needs someone to be patient with him, and to love him. He is attending our after school program in Ciumeghiu, and I was thrilled to see him happy at having the opportunity to learn to write. His parents are indifferent towards him.  He lives a difficult life, but is finding community through the church, and is finding a deep fulfillment by having a place to come where there are people that truly care about him.

Darius is available for sponsorship.

So are many other village children and orphans through the ministry of Remember the Children and our Strategic Servant Partners. Would you be willing “to do good” in the life of a child? Would you be willing to be the emotional and spiritual mentor to a child who needs someone to love and invest in his/her life?

Darius and many others are waiting for you today to “do good” and give them an opportunity for a better life.

Andy Baker
Executive Director of Remember the Children