A Place to Belong: 2023 Year In Review

As we reflect on 2023, we see so many ways God worked through you to help orphaned and vulnerable children feel seen, known, and loved.

So our team chose some stories that belong in our 2023 year-in-review because they remind us of God’s faithfulness through you this year

First, you made it possible for kids around the world to hear the Gospel and find a place to belong.

Outside of the U.S. in the countries we serve, 1 in 5 children grow up in extreme poverty. And with high unemployment and steep costs of education, only 5% of children in the communities we serve receive an education beyond 7th grade.

Poverty and a lack of education remain two of the biggest contributing factors to children becoming orphans.

So when we welcome the most vulnerable children in a community to go to school, to have their daily needs met, and to learn about Jesus, we participate in orphan prevention.

Sam from Cambodia and Emeldah from Zambia lost everything as children. But they found belonging through Gospel-centered care … and are now thriving.

“People used to say, ‘You are a poor boy. You are a boy with no father.’ But when I trusted Jesus, I had a place to belong.” —Sam

One specific way orphaned and vulnerable kids experienced belonging this year is through mentorship.

Lucy’s life is an incredible testament to the love of God, the transforming power of mentorship, and the faithful support of people like you.

6,000 orphans age out of orphanages in South Korea every year.

These young adults have no reliable support system or family who loves them unconditionally and are committed to guiding them through life. With little to no support, depression and suicide are ongoing risks for young adults aging out of these orphanages.

Since 2006, our partners in South Korea have reached over 500 kids through their mentorship program, camps, tutoring initiatives, scholarships, and the Healing House.

Lucy could have easily gotten lost in the odds stacked against her. But by receiving the unconditional love of her mentor, Lucy learned to better understand God’s love.

Watch Lucy’s story—

“Whenever I meet with my mentor, I find myself asking, ‘Who am I that you love me so well?’” —Lucy

Another example of the power of mentorship is Vlad from Ukraine.

Vlad grew up in an orphanage from birth to 11th grade. He believed he had no one to protect him and no one to believe in him. He explains—

“One day, we were all gathered into a classroom where we were studying, and a psychologist told us that we would be alcoholics, drug addicts, someone would go to prison, and someone would be killed. What she said changed my life.”

Thankfully, God was writing a different story with Vlad’s life. And He used a mentor from Lifesong summer camp to show him that—despite what the psychologist said—Vlad had hope and a future.

Watch Vlad’s powerful story—

Meanwhile, you supported orphaned and vulnerable children in places like Ukraine and Haiti where violence and unpredictability continue.

The challenges facing orphaned and vulnerable children today are significant. The impact of war, poverty, abuse, and disease is ongoing and lamentable.

Yet, despite this, God continues to reach children and families in need. He’s breaking generational cycles, and creating stories of hope and healing. 

In both Ukraine and Haiti, the ongoing conflict has also brought new opportunities for ministry. And it reminds us that this world is not our home. We belong to God.

Since the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, our team in Ukraine has been responding to the unique and growing needs of orphaned and vulnerable children affected by war.

And over a third of people in Haiti know someone who has been killed by the heavily armed gangs that have taken control, including many of our staff, who have lost relatives. But even as the conflict continues, we praise God that students can keep learning and growing in Christ.

So as fear and violence gripped Ukraine and Haiti this year, you were compelled to pray for peace, security, and an end to violence and corruption.

Jesus did not panic when He faced the most difficult situations. And He encourages us to do the same, as we abide in Him.

You also supported families here in the U.S. as they persevered through the beauty and brokenness that comes with adoption.

Here in the U.S., money continues to be the #1 reason families considering adoption decide not to adopt. But children belong in families.

93% of families we serve cannot afford to adopt without financial assistance.

For example, when Nathan and Jennie left for Ghana, they believed they’d be gone for a total of six weeks. However, shortly after they arrived, they were shocked when told it would take five months to complete the adoption of their son, Isaiah. Only to find out it would take even longer.

Nathan explains, “There was one time where we didn’t know if we were going to have to go home because we didn’t have any more money. We were going bankrupt back home where our bills were stacking up.”

But with your support, we could offer financial support to Nathan and Jennie so they could continue pursuing Isaiah’s adoption into their family.

“It was dire for a little while, but we saw the faithfulness of God because there was literally no way that we could have survived if Lifesong didn’t step in and help us.” —Nathan, adoptive dad

Because of your generosity this year, we were also able to continue offering post-adoption support.

We’re committed to continuing the journey with adoptive families by offering financial assistance for counseling, continued training, trauma care, and other important interventions.

We want children to know they belong.

Andy is an adoptive dad. He shared, “We could not have made it to where we are without Lifesong’s post-adoption support and care. We now see light in the midst of a very dark time. To know people are praying for us—and following it up with actions—has been no less than miraculous.”

Not only did you support families, you joined Naomi, a young adult adoptee, in being community to waiting children.

With your support, since 2002, 10,418 children have been supported with adoption and post-adoption financial assistance with help from Lifesong and partners.

14 years ago, Naomi was one of these children.

Last year, Naomi chose to give back. In her words, “Growing up, I realized that the answer to the prayer I prayed years ago involved so many people along the way. So that’s why I chose to give to Lifesong—to continue supporting the organization that helped me in my need.”

Watch Naomi’s story—

Similarly, you helped launch a movement and equip Christians in Ethiopia to adopt.

In Ethiopia, there are more than 5.6 million orphans. And each of these children is waiting to belong.

But unfortunately, there isn’t yet a strong culture of domestic foster care or adoption in Ethiopia. So God is at work in the hearts of His people.

So Belay, who aged out of an Ethiopian orphanage, is challenging churches and individuals to think differently about adoption in Ethiopia.

“The Bible says God places the lonely in a family. It doesn’t say in an orphanage. So when we take a child from an orphanage and bring family together, I think we’re celebrating life.”

Watch Belay’s story—

And, in many different ways, this year you affirmed the value and dignity that exists in the lives of vulnerable women and their unborn children.

Whether by working to change the perception of birth mothers, by helping launch an initiative called My Life My Gift; to tell the stories of women with unexpected pregnancies, or by supporting a new ministry offering hope to pregnant girls in Zambia, you helped empower vulnerable moms and their children to stay together.

According to research, roughly 59% of adolescent girls in Zambia become pregnant by age 19. And many are much younger. Kharis House, the new ministry launched this year, offers counseling, discipleship, tutoring, physical education, pre-natal education, and a place to belong. All of this to support family preservation and prevent children from becoming orphaned.

So, Thank You.

These stories only scratch the surface of the eternal impact you are making with your commitment to our shared mission. Your support—prayer and giving—continue to be a driving force behind the transformative work that reaches across the globe, touching the lives of adoptive families as well as orphaned and vulnerable children.

Together, with you and with our global teammates, we’ve shared more than just resources this year. We’ve enabled children and families to belong—to feel seen, known, and loved.

Thank you for being part of this important mission.

We look forward with eager anticipation to all God has planned for 2024.

Give to help orphaned and vulnerable children know they are seen, known, and loved.

Now through December 31, 2023, your unrestricted gift to Lifesong’s Where Most Needed is matched up to $1,800,000—meaning your impact goes twice as far!

100% of your gift to Lifesong directly helps children in need. TMG Foundation and key partners cover our fundraising and administrative costs, so your entire gift goes where you want it to go.

Give to help orphaned and vulnerable children know they are seen, known, and loved.

Now through December 31, 2023, your unrestricted gift to Lifesong’s Where Most is matched up to $1,800,000—meaning your impact goes twice as far!

100% of your gift to Lifesong directly helps children in need. TMG Foundation and key partners cover our fundraising and administrative costs, so your entire gift goes where you want it to go.