Fueled by the good news of God’s grace, stirred by God’s heart for justice and His call to care for the marginalized and the fatherless (Ps 68:5-6), and motivated to share the story of the gospel with the next generation (Ps 78:5-7), I’ve been provided the privilege and the joy of serving as a member of the board of directors for Bethesda Outreach Ministries, South Africa, over the last 7 years.
The mission of Bethesda is focused on Orphan Care (Providing a working model of rescuing orphaned children into functional Christian families that magnify Christ), as well as Orphan Care Development (Providing training, resources, encouragement, and support to local churches, communities, and organizations who are involved in orphan care).
The vision of Bethesda is that we would see the physical, social, educational, and spiritual needs of orphan children being met in the South African context, and that the local church would be engaged in this mission in greater capacities.
At Bethesda, men and women with diverse backgrounds and a wide range of abilities and passions work together to serve the ministry as a means of grace. As board members, one of the manners in which we encourage and support exceptional orphan care is Functionally. We help assure the good and wise stewardship of the resources and finances. We help establish and guide the mission. We participate in strategic planning and help provide accountability that the objectives, strategies, staffing, and policies are implemented that advance the mission. We help advocate for Bethesda in our own contexts, help spread the word, and help raise funds that support, sustain, and expand the ministry.
But there is another manner in which we encourage and support exceptional orphan care, and it’s Relationally. We do this by engaging in the ministry personally. We serve the ministry and support it financially. We make it a priority to be together, to spend time with one other; with the staff, the missionaries, and the house parents who are engaged in the ministry. We seek to build relationships with one another that mutually encourage, build each another up in love, strengthen one another in God’s grace, and continue to point each other to the beauty, the power, and the sufficiency of the gospel (who Jesus is, what He’s done for us, what He’s promised us, and how He sees us).
How can we measure the extent of how the mission is furthered and how God’s grace is at work in each other’s lives through the relationships that are developed at Bethesda? Experiences are shared, relationships are built, meaningful conversations happen, God shows up, stories are told, and hearts are stirred. Those who are pouring out their lives on the front lines of the ministry are seen, partnered with, sustained, comforted, encouraged and spurred on. Others are invited in to see what God is doing here.
One day, when the Lord returns, I believe that we’ll be able to see the full measure of the ripple effect of how God was at work through each of our lives to make a difference in the lives of others. Until that day, I press forward with confidence and joy that God is at work, accomplishing His purposes and redemptive plan, even through a broken and ordinary guy like me.
Being able to spend time at Bethesda each year and having the privilege to serve alongside the many faithful men and women has been an inexpressible means of grace in my own life. Each time I’m able to look into the face of one of the beautiful and broken children, I’m confronted again with the reality that I was the orphan…and that God has freely rescued me, adopted me, and has promised me the riches of His grace. May the good news of His grace be the source of strength and hope that ignites and fuels our hearts to love and serve others.
Pastor of Family Ministries
Calvary Church, Valparaiso, Indiana