Couple downsized so orphans have a home
It’s one thing to hear the phrase “143 million orphans” and shrug it off as just another problem for someone else to handle.
It’s quite another to do something about it, such as sell your house and donate the proceeds to buy and renovate a home for parentless children in a faraway land.
That’s what Geoff and Tami Biehn did a year ago when they were inspired to action. They moved to a smaller home, using the proceeds from the sale of the first house to help orphaned girls in the Dominican Republic.
The money paid for a five-bedroom home for 30 orphans and helped to furnish classrooms operated by VisionTrust, an agency that works to improve the lives of children around the world.
“We have always supported efforts to help orphans and the poor,” said Mr. Biehn, president of Trinity Financial Advisors in Worthington.
“But one day it just hit us: If we could buy a less expensive house, we would have this nice chunk of money to do wonderful things with,” he said, “ ... to help the orphans, poor and those hurting in our communities and the world.”
They decided that helping “the least, the last and the lost” was the best investment they could make.
The Biehns will give a seminar on “Investing in What Matters” during a two-day conference that starts tonight at Vineyard Columbus in Westerville.
The More4orphans summit will feature presentations by Wess Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International; Carolyn Twietmeyer, founder and executive director of Project Hopeful; and John McCollum, founder and executive director of Columbus-based Asia’s Hope.
McCollum and his wife, Kori, adopted their son Chien from Vietnam in 1998. Mr. McCollum said his interest in the issue of international orphans was focused on his son until a few years later.
During a trip to Cambodia with a pastor friend, “we saw some of the massive issues — the human trafficking and child prostitution — and the shortcomings of institutional orphanages,” Mr. McCollum said. “My heart was broken by that.
“But we also met lots of fantastic Cambodians providing orphan care at church and home levels.”< /p>
Asia’s Hope connects churches with smaller family-style orphanages in Cambodia, Thailand and India. With resources from U.S. and Canadian congregations, couples in those nations help local orphans live outside state-run institutions.
More than 600 children are being served in 24 homes sponsored through Asia’s Hope.
The aim of this weekend’s conference is to share ways to help with individuals and congregations and to connect passions to resources and established agencies, Mr. McCollum said.
The summit will cover topics related to global orphan care, foster care and adoption.
“This helps people think about what makes sense for their lifestyle, their family,” said Tom Rees, Vineyard’s community-relations director.
“We have many families who were moved to look to God and ask, ‘What do you think we should do?’ ”< /p>
Options include making a donation to Asia’s Hope, taking a weeklong trip to Honduras to volunteer at an orphanage sponsored by Friends of Montana de Luz, and adopting a child from an overseas orphanage.
Summit organizers say those responses and more are needed to counter war, poverty and other crises, especially in Third World countries.
“It’s time for us to move past raising awareness to action,” Mr. McCollum said.
The More4orphans summit will run from 7 to 9:30?p.m. today and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Vineyard Columbus, 6000 Cooper Rd., Westerville. Cost is $10 for one day or $15 for both. Registration begins at 6 tonight at the door. More information is available at vineyardcolumbus.org/ministries/marriage-and-family/events/more4orphans-summit-2012.