Friday, April 15, 2016

Partnering with The Best: Our Time with Bethany Christian Services Global

Kingdom Families & Bethany Christian Services Global
What an incredible term we've had over these last 14 months in Tanzania. From adopting our son Moses to expanding the foundations of our advocacy program to developing new partnerships, it's been a full season! While the adoption was our highlight overall, ministry-wise, we saved the best for last in this past term. Two weeks before leaving for our current furlough we welcomed consultants from Bethany Christian Services Global to come and work with us at Kingdom Families. It was a thrilling time and we're so excited to share our overview!

Kingdom Families in-house meeting with Bethany Global on March 21st
A little about Bethany Global...
Bethany Christian Services is the largest adoption agency in the world and have piloted family-based care and adoption programs in numerous countries worldwide, including five within Africa. Every year, their social service programs are reaching tens of thousands of people throughout the world. They are all about adoption and family-based care, just like us! 

They sent two consultants to assess current Kingdom Families programming and give us directive next steps to see the program become widespread. The first consultant which led most of our meetings and interviews was the Director for Africa Operations, Sebilu Bodja. Sebilu was a part of pioneering Bethany's flagship program in Ethiopia which has seen 120 children get adopted into local Ethiopian families just within the last couple years. Furthermore, there is a wait list of dozens of families that are now waiting for children to be placed into their families--all of this due to the anointed efforts of Bethany's world renowned ministry. The most impressive feat within this is that there has absolutely been no culture or concept of adoption within the communities they worked in and yet God has used Bethany to begin changing cultural mindsets at a very large level. The second consultant was Bethany's Clinical Director Jill Vander Bent from their Michigan offices. Jill oversaw the clinical side of the assessment and also offered valuable training to Global-Effect staff. Jill has also been a part of Bethany's work in Ethiopia and other countries. 

Working with local pastors within the Global-Effect/Kingdom Families network
Working with Bethany Global...
The team from Bethany arrived Sunday March 20th and we hit the ground running for a packed four day schedule. The majority of this trip was focused on assessing Kingdom Families and our current programming. This assessment trip is Phase One of a four phase partnership with Bethany Global. Based on the work that we've already been doing in the region for the last 2 years, Mr. Bodja said that we are already quite a bit ahead of what a normal Phase 1 looks like. With the assessment, the Bethany Global leadership will give us experienced direction and next steps for further building. We can't understate the importance of having this partnership. The Church is designed to have the experienced ones disciple and lead up the novices, and that's what we're embarking on with Bethany. Because of this, it will be for the betterment of orphans and families that we seek to empower in Tanzania.

Jill and Lilian visiting a Kingdom Families foster family
To conduct the assessment, there were a series of interviews to be had with people that have a stake in what we've begun, as well as those that could potentially partner with us. Overall, Bethany Global was gauging the cultural climate and current orphan care landscape to inform us in the best route possible. What we're understanding more and more is that our aim can't be to merely place children into homes instead of orphanages. But rather to establish a culture within the Tanzanian church that embraces adoption and embraces the orphan at risk. To better understand and begin work in Tanzania, our team of six (Brandon, Melissa, Sebilu, Jill, our social worker Jerioth and another social worker Lilian) went around and met with many different people. From social welfare officers to current Kingdom Families foster parents, from orphanage directors to pastors, we ran through the gamut of who is necessary in this process.

Meeting with directors from two different orphanages
The most exciting thing to us is having people to walk alongside us as we push to alter the orphan care landscape in Tanzania. Too often in Tanzania, people are content to leave children on the streets, in orphanages and out of families. Together with Bethany, we're working to stop that. Even those that are serving in orphanage settings acknowledge that it'd be better for children to be raised in loving families instead of the orphanages that they manage, yet there just hasn't been anyone working to make that a reality. We're glad to be filling in that gap for the orphans in Kilimanjaro, and as far as we know, we are the only (and maybe even very first) registered program throughout the entire country of Tanzania who is focusing on family based orphan care. Next week, we'll receive the written report from Sebilu, Jill and their team at Bethany Global and then begin taking the necessary next steps within the process to begin Phase Two. 
As we're currently in the states, we'd love the opportunity to speak with you, your community and church about caring for orphans and empowering communities in Tanzania. The path that we're on and the milestones still to come are thrilling. We'd love for you to walk with us and are grateful for those that are already. Please contact us at thestiversintanzania@gmail.com or through messaging us on Facebook.

In Christ,
The Stivers in Tanzania



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