30 Aug SOW launches new service within our transition program
A few years ago because of the research efforts of one of our Board Members, Dr. Julie Martinez, SOW began to address what we believe is one of the most critical issues in global orphan care—Transition. In short, the job of orphan care is not complete until youth are established in a job that allows them to be self-supported. Unfortunately, the numbers regarding the transition of aged-out youth from a Home for Children to independent living are not good. For example, many orphaned youth, because they do not have an opportunity for higher education, end up back in situations of extreme poverty and dependency. This places them back in situations of high risk–homelessness, exploitation, enslavement, and worse.
Through the Gary and Kevin Harris Memorial Scholarship Fund, as well as a growing contingent of likeminded supporters, SOW has been empowered to scholarship 88 young adults so far to study in their own countries, and we will continue to work to raise support for higher education scholarships. But another sad obstacle for transitioning youth is that even when they achieve a university degree, because of static social structures in their countries (little or no opportunity for upward social mobility), and because they may have very little support or connections, they are unable to get jobs that provide a livable wage. Socio-economic poverty is a difficult cycle to escape, especially for youth whose conditions of birth make them targets of cruel social injustice.
Through a process of prayer and discovery, the decision was made in 2022 to establish a “Mission House” in Tri-Cities, TN, for the purpose of housing some of our youth from overseas for high-school and college studies. Through the possibility of achieving a High School and College Diploma in the US; and the learning provided by cross-cultural experiences of language, social skills, and a broader world view, these candidates gain an incredible advantage in their preparation for the future. As our leadership has sought God’s direction for this new venture, amazing doors have opened! Another of our Board Members, Britt Stone, was able to secure full tuition scholarships for high school age students at a prestigious private school, Tri-Cities Christian Academy. This incredible open door was yet another demonstration of God’s provision for this dream.
This new service involving the Mission House is being led by Karen Anderson, a career missionary, who has transformed a nice property in Kingsport, TN, into a beautiful, student-friendly Home. Our first group consists of five exchange students who began arriving this month. So far, three of our youth are settled in, and two more are still in process with immigration; their target date for arrival is September 22. Four of our students are orphaned, and one is a war refugee. As you can imagine, things are busy for the Anderson’s with the new work at SOW’s Mission House, but already there is a sense of family–sharing great meals, going to class, doing household and yard chores, and worshipping in local churches together. On a personal level, Karen and I did not think we would be “parents” again at this stage in life, but we consider it an honor to establish this new service as a pilot program, believing God has directed SOW to “step out of the boat,” taking on new challenges and doing our very best to respond to the needs of transitioning youth.
As always, the preparation of the Home, documentation and logistics for the students have been much more involved than expected, but in every step of the process we can see “the Good Hand of the Lord” confirming this vision. We are sharing this news with you today because we believe God will lead a number of you to become our base of financial support for this additional service! Thankfully, the tuitions are provided for by Tri-Cities Academy, but food, transportation, uniforms/clothing items, insurance, and personal needs of the students are not covered. Nevertheless, we are already seeing God meet the needs of these students on a daily basis. Every God-inspired ministry begins in faith.In the same way we have seen His blessings for our main program and scholarships in the field with 75 Homes, I am confident God will provide for these first students, as well as future ones that will benefit from our Tennessee-based Home. If you pass our property, you may see four flags waving from the top-floor balcony–USA, Honduras, India, and Ukraine!
Thank you for your continued support.