Check out these 5 awesome, kid-centered mission projects. They are the perfect way to introduce the children in your ministry to global missions.
1. Oasis for Orphans (o4o.org)
Oasis for Orphans was born out of the call to care for widows and orphans. Our vision is to rescue and develop every vulnerable orphan in southwest Kenya. Several years ago, the Kenyan government estimated there were 110,000 vulnerable orphaned children just within six of their counties. While the term “holistic care” has become a buzzword, we’ve found that the goal of taking care of children physically and spiritually is intrinsic to who we are as Christians and human beings. The part of holistic care that doesn’t just “happen” is quality education. That’s why our goal is to provide quality education to each child we can impact at our children’s home and beyond. Education opens doors to opportunities, and we believe in the future generation and leaders of Kenya.
What sets us apart is our vision for Guardian Care. We do have a few care centers that allow the most vulnerable children to live there full-time, but even then we make sure each child has a guardian to go home to during school breaks. There’s always more need than beds. And it’s always better for a child to grow up with family, extended family or a family friend in the child’s culture rather than in a children’s home. Our aim is to provide a space for children to belong and believe in who they are—and gain access to quality education. By alleviating the educational burden and costs of guardians trying to raise kids who’ve been orphaned or are vulnerable, the whole family will be impacted. We want the children we meet to find family and have the opportunity to do anything they can dream up.
Our goal is for each child in our program to get into a quality high school (because this sets the tone for one’s future in Kenya), then into a university or vocational school, and then become a contributing member of society. We’re talking next-generation layers, doctors, presidents, and more. We’re revamping primary schools in our areas and eventually high schools. We want Oasis for Orphans to be the tipping point for the children in communities we’re part of. Right now, we’re impacting 300, but we want all 110,000 orphaned kids to have access to family and education.
How to Connect
Ministries can connect with us at email@example.com, on our social media platforms, or by phone at 224-277-5678. Ministries can choose to sponsor a child, a family unit, or an entire site. Churches can also participate in a virtual 5K every year. On Orphan Sunday weekend, you can all go or a walk (or run) in honor of the children in Kenya.
Jordan McGuffin is the U.S. operations coordinator for Oasis for Orphans.
2. Sweet Sleep (sweetsleep.org)
Sweet Sleep began in 2003, after our founder, Jen Gash, spent a week at a camp for kids from an orphanage in Moldova. Her group toured the orphanage, and she was overwhelmed by the heavily soiled and broken beds the children were sleeping on. What began as a desire to provide beds for about 450 kids in that one orphanage has led to over 15 years of ministry and over 30,000 beds provided in eight different countries. We began working in Uganda in 2009, and Uganda is now our primary international focus. Sweet Sleep continues to provide around 3,000 beds to orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda each year.
Sweet Sleep partners with other Ugandan organizations to meet the needs of children living in desperate poverty. Our partners provide many health and social services, and our beds provide much-needed relief to children, many of whom are HIV-positive or have special needs and have nowhere to sleep but on the dirt floor of their small huts. Children sleep without any mattresses, blankets, or mosquito nets to protect them from malaria. Sweet Sleep provides all these items, along with a Bible, to each child we serve. We believe the Bible is just as much a part of the whole package as are the mattress, blanket, and mosquito net. In reality, our mission isn’t about providing beds: It’s about demonstrating God’s love and hope in Jesus to orphaned and vulnerable children.
A Ugandan staff oversees our programs in Uganda. We have four amazing women working there, some of whom share similar backgrounds with the children we’re serving. We’ve always felt it was important to have indigenous staff who truly understand the best ways for us to serve children in that country. Also, we don’t import any items into Uganda. This way, not only do orphaned and vulnerable children receive life-changing beds, but some money goes into the local economy.
First and foremost, we want orphaned and vulnerable children to know God loves them. Sharing the gospel through the Bibles and through the words we say to children and their caregivers is of paramount importance. We want children who experience great trauma in their lives to have a place of rest and comfort. We want them to know they have value. Children need to be protected from malaria, which kills hundreds of children every day. We also want people in rural Uganda to understand that children with special needs and disabilities aren’t a curse. They aren’t something to be discarded or hidden away. We’ve seen over and over how giving beds to children with special needs or disabilities changes the way their community sees them.
How to Connect
All our resources and more information about our programs can be found at sweetsleep.org/programs. Depending on how a church chooses to partner with us, we have videos to share with kids, showing the impact of what they’re doing. We post stories and reports from the field to our blog when we’re in Uganda. We also make personal appearances at churches to share the impact of kids’ efforts.
Stuart McAlister is the executive director for Sweet Sleep (sweetsleep.org).
3. Because International (becauseinternational.org)
At Because International, we believe everyone deserves a chance to succeed. Our mission is to use innovation to make things better. Our founder spent time in Kenya in 2007, where he met a young girl whose feet were hanging out of her shoes. In that moment, he had an idea that eventually became The Shoe That Grows. We have distributed over 240,000 pairs of shoes in over 100 countries. Our VBS program invites kids to be a part of our mission to get more life-changing products to more kids and families around the world. The money they raise through their offering helps us get products into the hands of people who need them most.
Churches get a free pair of The Shoe That Grows with their kit. This allows the kids to actually touch the product, try it on, and test it out. Along with holding the shoe and seeing videos of kids receiving this same shoe in other countries, kids can witness a direct impact their offering can make, connecting them with kids around the world. It’s through this power of small things that changes the way kids see the world.
This year our goal is to raise enough money to help us get 12,500 pairs of shoes and 200 bed nets to kids in other countries.
How to Connect
Sign up at becauseinternational.org/vbs to find more information or to order your free missions kit. Or email me at sarah@becauseinter- national.org. We provide videos and share stories of shoes we’ve distributed, which is supported by kids raising funds. We also send follow-up information at the end of the VBS season that highlights how many dollars VBS programs brought in and the countries impacted. The mission isn’t just for VBS; minis- tries can use The Power of Small Things companion kit during Sunday school or for a midweek lesson time.
Sarah Hille is the church suite coordinator for Because International (becauseinternational.org).
4. Filter of Hope (filterofhope.org)
Filter of Hope (FOH) was launched five years ago to meet the greatest physical and spiritual needs in most developing-country environments: clean water and the lifesaving hope of Jesus. We began working in two countries and have grown to having our filters in 62 countries around the world. We’ve distributed more than 70,000 water filters to families, and thousands have come to know Jesus and connect to local churches in the countries we serve.
Our ministry partners can either purchase and take the filters for use on their existing mission trips or travel with FOH on a customized mission trip where we distribute filters and share the gospel using the parts of the filter. In 2019 alone, FOH will lead over 60 groups (more than 1,300 people) on mission trips to 10 different countries. Your church can also participate in the Kids’ Clean Water Project, which is a fun, practical mission project. Kids learn about the global water crisis, see the water filter in action, hear the gospel through our unique presentation, and raise money to provide clean water to kids and families just like their own. There are many ways churches and groups can partner with FOH to bring life and hope to people so desperate for both.
Our water filter is unique in the market- place because of its size, ease of use, and the amount of water it provides for such a small cost. The Kids’ Clean Water Project is unique in that it’s a free, practical mission project in which kids are literally saving lives and helping people hear about Jesus all over the world. For every $5 raised, one person will have clean water for 10 years. Every person—man, woman, or child—can raise $5 to help someone in need.
When your church participates, you decide what you want to do with the water filters you sponsor: You can distribute them on your own church mission trip or have FOH distribute them for you. If we distribute them, we’ll send you pictures of the families who receive the filters. Also, each water filter has a bar code on it that’s scanned when distributed. The church can go on the app and see the families who receive the filters. They’ll have GPS coordinates to the house and a link to Google Earth where they can see the home where the filter is doing its work.
We hope 200 churches will sign up to use the free Kids’ Clean Water Project this year alone. We provide everything churches need—all the training, supplies, and videos. On average, churches who take on the project raise approximately $5 per participant. This money provides thousands of people with clean water, and each recipient also hears a powerful gospel presentation. The program works in any setting from 5 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on your situation. Churches have used it for VBS missions and Sunday morning series.
How to Connect
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to filterofhope.org and respond to the Kids’ Clean Water Project page.
Don Johnson is the director of ministry partnerships for filterofhope.org.
5. Operation Kid-to-Kid (ok2k.org)
Year after year, Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K) is one of the driving forces in mobilizing children to serve other kids in need. Each year millions of dollars are given by kids to help other kids in need. International Christian organizations and Group’s vacation Bible school programs team up to get kids involved with helping other kids. Kids have the opportunity to help other children around the world by giving gifts like school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Children have also funded extensive malaria prevention and clean water initiatives in Africa and India.
OK2K is a fun and engaging way for children in the U.S. to understand the lives and cultures of other children in the world. As kids learn about needs in the developing world, they (and their parents) have a way to partner with World Vision to be a solution and have a deeper connection to children in poverty.
Group Publishing and World Vision are partnering to help moms and babies get the best beginnings they can. Each $10 donation through Operation Kid-to-Kid provides supplemental nutrition and education to a mom and child for two years. By joining with thousands of others, kids can bring health to new moms and babies—and hope to the nation of Zambia. OK2K’s specific grassroots approach touches children in rural and large cities each summer in meaningful, memorable ways.
Over the years, Operation Kid-to-Kid has raised more than $33 million to serve over 3 million kids in 20 countries. We hope to continue this incredible effort and build kids’ awareness of children in poverty. We want to provide a way for kids to be connected and be part of a solution.
How to Connect
Go to our website at ok2k.org.
Mike Gillespie is the senior director of corporate engagement at World Vision.