Letter from our Executive Director
Dear friend of Asia’s Hope,
Thanks to the generosity of our partners and supporters and the goodness of our God, we have built an innovative, effective and indigenously-led organization that is providing real homes and families for orphaned children and is transforming the communities in which they live.
Right now, we’re watching the first generation of kids to be rescued and raised at Asia’s Hope graduate high school, attend university and vocational training, get jobs, get married — and in some cases, return home to join our staff as teachers and caregivers!
We’ve learned a lot over the past decade and a half, and we’ve proven to ourselves — and to others — that residential orphan homes don’t have to be institutional: they can truly function as a family, providing the love and support each child needs to not only survive, but thrive.
I hope that this review will leave you both encouraged and inspired. As you read it, join me in thanking God for giving us the opportunity and the resources to provide family-style orphan care for kids at risk of sexual and economic exploitation, build high-quality schools for some of the world’s poorest children and provide university scholarships for bright young adults who have succeeded beyond even our dreams despite enduring the unimaginable trauma and loss that brought them into our care.
I believe with my whole heart that the best days and the biggest challenges lie ahead as we work together to raise a second, third and fourth generation of children, revoking forever their status as “orphans” and giving them the tools and confidence they’ll need to lead their communities towards a future where no child is trafficked, exploited, abandoned or abused.
I pray that God gives us the courage and the resources to continue together in our sacred mission to “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. (Psalm 82:3)”
May God bless you and your family,
Asia’s Hope is an innovative, effective and indigenously-led organization that gives orphaned children real homes and families and transforms the communities in which they live.
For the past fourteen and a half years, we’ve seen God move mightily among our 800+ kids and nearly 150 local staff, and none of it would have been possible without the generosity of partnering churches, families, companies, foundations and individuals.
Together, we’ve provided family-style orphan care for kids at risk of sexual and economic exploitation, built high-quality schools for some of the world’s poorest children and provided university scholarships for young adults who have thrived in Asia’s Hope homes despite early childhood trauma and loss.
2015 was a challenging and rewarding year. Overcoming our share of setbacks and shortfalls, we have forged exciting new partnerships and launched initiatives that will enrich the lives of the children already in our care, expand the number of kids we can serve and extend the promise of a loving, Christian family to new generations of orphaned kids in some of the world’s toughest places.
New church partnerships
Long-term partnerships and recurring gifts are our lifeblood. We do receive — and are extraordinarily thankful for — one-time gifts. But our comprehensive care model is dependent on dependable, ongoing funding.
The Chapel’s senior pastor, Tim Armstrong, has been a powerful advocate for Asia’s Hope for many years. When he moved to Akron from his previous church (Crossroads [Mansfield, OH], which remains one of our most important partnerships under their new pastor, Dave Vance), Tim brought his enthusiasm for our work to his new congregation.
In 2015, The Chapel took sponsorship for two existing homes in Cambodia — Prek Eng 1 and Battambang 6 — and announced a commitment to fund two new homes in Battambang over the next three years! They’re also providing funding for the newly-dedicated Asia’s Hope Secondary School in Battambang, Cambodia.
The seeds of our relationship with Vineyard Columbus took root long ago, when one of their daughter congregations, Central Vineyard (Columbus, OH), became the first church to fully sponsor an individual home. That home, Prek Eng 2 (Cambodia) celebrates its 10th birthday in July!
We’ve had individual supporters from Vineyard Columbus for a long time, and the partnership was catalyzed by a Champions Circle led by Geoff and Tami Biehn and Thad and Erin DeVassie. This group of individual donors raised enough money to buy the land and build the Prek Eng 6 home, and committed a significant portion of the monthly operating budget. Thanks to the pastors and staff of Vineyard Columbus, the whole church is now on board, and we’ve been able to rescue 20 new children who are now enjoying the benefits of a loving, Christian family.
In addition to the Prek Eng 6 home, which opened in October, we opened one other new home this year, Kalimpong 5 (India) in March. KP5 is supported by Life Church (Columbus, Ohio). Led by pastors Simon and Melanie Forsythe, Life also sponsors our Battambang 8 (Cambodia) home. Pastor Simon led a small team from his church to visit Kalimpong 5 in September.
Emerging Champions Circles
For the last couple of years we’ve been talking about Champions Circles, groups of motivated individuals who commit to raising significant funds for specific projects. In 2015, we saw a number of those circles take shape. They’ve extended our capacity to serve, and have helped us fill substantial funding gaps that, left unaddressed, would significantly hamper our ability to meet emerging opportunities.
Dr. Ray and Deb Sheridan (Sheridan Dental, Grove City, OH) led a dental mission to Asia’s Hope Cambodia in 2014. No surprise — they fell in love. When the Battambang 5 home came available for sponsorship this year, they jumped at the chance to involve their friends and colleagues. They’ve raised nearly all the funds needed to take full sponsorship of that home, and they’re working on getting their church involved, perhaps paving the way for a church partnership in the future.
Starting in 2009, the Hunsader family (Jeter Mountain Farm, Hendersonville, TN) generously sponsored our Prek Eng 4 and 5 homes (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). In 2013, they handed over support of Prek Eng 4 to Mark and Beth Voltmann’s Covenant Family Trust (Columbus, OH). In 2015, the Hunsaders expanded the circle of support for PE5 to include their longtime friends, Scott and Jeanne Hamilton (Price, Hamilton & Price, Bradenton, FL). Together, they’ve invited their friends and colleagues to form a Champions Circle they’ve called “Hope for Cambodia,” and have not only maintained the full support of Prek Eng 5, but have fully funded the university scholarship fund for that home and are funding STEM tutors, helping to ensure bright futures for more than 125 kids living in our six Prek Eng homes.
New and Growing Relationships
In June, we entered into a partnership with Real Wood Floors (West Plains, MO) that provides full funding for elementary school in Kalimpong (West Bengal, India). As Sam Cobb, owner of Real Wood floors said, “We wanted to be a company making a lasting impact in the world and having a purpose that drives us to do more than make flooring.” We’re thankful for Sam and his company’s vision!
We also began a partnership in March with Transform Construction (Columbus, OH) to sponsor our Kalimpong 2 children’s home. Joshua and Everett have been such an encouragement and a blessing to us, and we’re praying that the new year will bring even more businesses into partnership with Asia’s Hope.
It was exciting to watch EduGo really take off this year. EduGo is a project that raises funds to help us buy bikes and motos so our kids can go to and from school safely. Founded by longtime supporter Jeremy Slagle (with substantial help from new friend Stacy Keyerleber), EduGo hosted a bike ride in June and a raffle in November which have allowed us to purchase dozens of bikes for our homes in Cambodia, Thailand and India.
As Diane Tirakis, founder and director of Team Hope said, “As a mother of two children, to think of my little ones living a life of forced labor or prostitution is incredibly overwhelming. No child should live this way. I have always hoped that God would allow me to do something for Him and His kingdom.”
We’re humbled by and grateful for the hard work of people like Sam, Jeremy, Joshua, Everett and Diane. They don’t just volunteer on a casual basis — they make the kids and staff of Asia’s Hope a significant priority in their lives, and they sacrifice their time, their talents and their finances to make a real difference!
Some Times of Joyful Fellowship
In September, Thailand Director Tutu Bee and Cambodian Director Savorn Ou — along with Savorn’s wife Sony and two sons Billy and Malvin — visited North American for a month of visits with American and Canadian colleagues, family and supporting churches. This was the first visit to North America for Billy and Malvin, and they had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of new foods and activities from apple picking to Football Friday Night.
The trip culminated in a night of worship and prayer at the historic North High School in Columbus, Ohio. Hundreds of Asia’s Hope supporters joined together to hear Savorn’s and Tutu’s testimonies and to pray God’s blessing and protection upon the world’s orphaned children. A multi-church band led by Noelle Shearer set the stage for a powerful worship encounter that was a highlight of our directors’ visit, one that we’re hoping to recreate in one form or another in 2016.
In January, Asia’s Hope India conducted our first ever Himalayan Leaders Conference. Joined by Executive Director John McCollum and his wife Kori, longtime board member Dr. John Campbell and pastors Jay O’Brien, Brad Isch and Savorn Ou, our Indian staff hosted hundreds of Nepali-speaking pastors from India, Bhutan and Nepal.
We had originally expected around 300 attendees, but when the opening weekend rolled around, we found ourselves scrambling to accommodate nearly 700 pastors and leaders, some of whom had traveled three days from extraordinarily remote locations. Thanks to the generosity of supporters and partnering churches, we were able to provide transportation, room and board for any of the participants who were unable to fund their own attendance.
And even though the Nepali sermons and songs weren’t technically comprehensible to our international guests, all were humbled and blessed to worship God with so many brothers and sisters who, upon leaving the safety of our conference, returned to places where they face daily opposition and even persecution for their faith.
Difficult Times in India and Nepal
In April, many of the churches whose pastors attended our leadership conference were damaged or destroyed by the powerful earthquake that hit Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. Through the generous gifts from many of our partnering churches, especially The Chapel (Akron, OH) and Vista (Dublin, OH), we were able to provide desperately-needed supplies, medical personnel and funds to churches and orphanages in Kathmandu in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe.
Over the following months, we made monetary and material contributions to Nepal-based Christian charities including Tiny Hands, Global Youth Ministries Network and Feet Ministries. We also distributed relief supplies to remote Lukla, a small town near the base of Mt. Everest that had been largely bypassed by large relief agencies.
Our own facilities in Kalimpong were damaged at the time of the quake and later in the landslides brought on by aftershocks. We’re thankful that God protected our kids and staff and provided us the funds we needed to repair and reinforce our vulnerable properties.
We’ve also initiated a leadership transition that has seen the departure of our previous director, Nandu Gurung, and the promotion of two of our most senior home parents, Pastors Amber Gurung and Sunil Tamang to the positions of interim country directors.
Accidents, Illnesses and Afflictions
This year, our staff and kids were struck by a number of accidents, sicknesses and health crises. One of our fathers, Seng You, from our Battambang 1 home (Cambodia) was hurt when his motorcycle collided with a water buffalo. Thankfully, he did not suffer any serious injuries, but another staff member from Doi Saket (Thailand) was not as fortunate: Pelajoh, a young man who grew up at our Doi Saket 1 home and who had returned as a full-time staff member, was involved in a devastating motorcycle collision that has left him paralyzed from the waist down. Please pray for a miraculous healing for Pelajoh. Pray for encouragement for him and for our staff who now must provide for even his most basic needs.
A separate motorcycle accident in Thailand threatened the lives of two other staff members. Janpon, like Pelajoh, grew up at our Doi Saket 1 home. He married Joy and the two returned as home parents. Their motorcycle was struck, and the two sustained serious injuries from which they have — thank God — mostly recovered.
As we’ve come to expect, we’ve endured countless cases of malaria, dengue and typhoid and an assortment of broken bones, animal bites, viruses and infections. In the vast majority of these cases, we expect no lasting damage.
But some of our kids suffer from deeper wounds, the kinds that only the love of a family and healing from the Holy Spirit can address. One of our teenage girls attempted suicide this year, another has been hospitalized for psychological trauma related to the horrific sexual abuse she endured before coming to Asia’s Hope.
So many of our kids have suffered abandonment, loss, neglect and abuse; it’s a miracle that any succeed. But God has blessed us with an amazing community of wounded healers. Please join me in prayer for the continued spiritual and financial resources we need to give these kids the loving care they were created to enjoy.
Fulfilling the Promise to Our Young Scholars
When we started our first homes in 2004 and 2005, we promised all of our kids that, if they succeeded in school, we would provide them the scholarships they’d need to attend university.
That promise was relatively easy to make, as we had only a handful of children, and the expected high school graduation rate for orphaned Cambodian and Thai hilltribe kids is less than 10%. Those kids are now young adults, and across our entire organization, our projected high school graduation rate is nearly 87%! Today, we have 74 students in college. In two years, we’ll have more than 99. By 2021, we’ll have more than 200.
If we can’t afford to meet our obligations to the kids currently in our care, it’ll be very difficult to justify increasing the number of new kids we admit into our homes. But we know that God’s people have sufficient resources to not only maintain but grow our ministry. Please join us in praying for an additional $100,000 a year in contributions to our scholarship fund!
With the generous financial support of Crossroads Church (Mansfield, OH) and especially the family of Crossroads members Steve and Deb Ritchey, we were able to purchase land contiguous to our existing Battambang, Cambodia campus and build a beautiful new middle-and high school that will, at capacity, serve more than 250 students from Asia’s Hope and the surrounding community.
Led by Pastor Jim Brown, Grace Community Church (Goshen, IN) raised more than $40,000 in startup funds for this project, and The Chapel (Akron, OH) is providing ongoing monthly support. This has truly been a multi-congregation effort.
The school, which we project will open for classes in August 2016, represents a major investment in the economic and educational prospects for the kids in Battambang, who have struggled for years with a failing local school system. For years, we’ve supplemented these kids’ schooling with tutors. But our new school will allow us to offer them a comprehensive, secondary education that will help secure a successful transition to the workforce or to university.
Improving Our Administrative and Executive Capacity
We’ve been working for more than a year to design and implement a new, state-of-the-art database that allows us to easily store, track and analyze all of our kids’ medical, biographical and educational records. We don’t expect to have the database fully populated until the middle of 2016, but have already gained some valuable insights by analyzing educational trends among the hundreds of kids whose profiles have already been entered into this powerful new system.
Much of the organizational infrastructure that helped launch what was a tiny ministry fifteen years ago is no longer appropriate for a growing non-profit with operations in six countries. Our attorney and friend, David Baker of L.A.-based Giving Design Group, has helped us streamline and standardize our board structure, and is guiding us through a comprehensive overview of all of our policies and procedures.
This ongoing project will allow us to take better advantage of existing opportunities, help us protect our assets here and abroad, and provide a framework for future leadership transitions across our organization.
With just three people in our U.S. office, we continue to face significant limitations, especially in our ability to communicate proactively with new, existing and potential ministry partners.
We’re in desperate need of a fourth (and soon after, a fifth) executive staff member. We’ve already interviewed for the first position, and have an ideal candidate in mind. Please join us in praying that God will provide the funds we need to bring this person on staff — and soon!
We remain extraordinarily grateful for the tireless fundraising efforts of our Canadian board, led by Glenn and Chantal Kelly. As busy parents and business owners, every hour of work they donate to Asia’s Hope reflects a deep commitment to our ministry and to the kids in our care.
Evaluating our Financial Position
This year has been both rewarding and challenging. We’ve expanded our base of long-term partners: churches, businesses and family foundations which are and will remain the lifeblood of our ministry.
But we’ve also faced an extraordinary series of medical emergencies, natural disasters, currency fluctuations, unbudgeted expenses and unforeseen shortfalls that have exhausted cash reserves and rendered us temporarily unable to implement planned expansions and improvements across our organization.
We’re still debt-free: we own outright all of our properties in Cambodia and Thailand, and are in stable, affordable leases for our Indian homes and school. But we’re praying that in 2016 we will see a considerable increase in general, non-restricted giving that will allow us to replenish our depleted medical, scholarship and capital funds and put us back on an aggressive growth trajectory in 2017 and beyond.
Outlook for 2016
Thanks to our long-term, large-project funding partnerships, we’ve been able to expand dramatically the scope of our ministry without a commensurate expansion of administrative cost and complexity. We’ve learned to do more ministry with less resources.
As we stand on the threshold of our 15th Anniversary we believe that God is inviting us to grow: to take in more children, and to offer even greater enrichment and educational opportunities to the kids and staff with whose well-being we have been entrusted. But we also recognize that we currently lack the funding and the organizational capacity to grow responsibly and sustainably.
We can’t wait to see what God does with our new church partnerships at Vineyard Columbus and The Chapel and we anticipate a significant deepening of our relationship with Chets Creek Church (Jacksonville, FL) and other congregations eager to initiate or expand ministry connections.
We plan to add a relatively small number of homes — two or three at the most — as we redouble our efforts to build the strategic and financial resources we’ll need if we are to dig into the many new opportunities we see God lining up for us over the next five to ten years.
So as approach our 15th Anniversary, we’ll be kicking off a new giving campaign that will allow us to enrich the lives of the children already in our homes, expand the number of kids we can admit into our programs and extend the promise of family-style care to new generations of orphaned and vulnerable children.
We need at least 15 new churches or businesses to commit $1,000 a month in unrestricted gifts. We need 150 individuals and families to commit at least $125 per month. And we need 400 people to commit to $30 per month. That amount would secure scholarships for this generation of young students and the next, allow us to make significant investments in staff training and continuing education, ensure our ability to meet medical emergencies, maintain the quality of our facilities and programs and help us hire essential support personnel on the ground in Cambodia, Thailand and India and in our office in the US.
In short, it would give us the resources we need to make strategic investments at all levels of our growing ministry, ensuring our current health and our longterm sustainability.
Through the generosity of our supporters, the dedication of our many volunteers, the tireless work of our indigenous staff, and the countless blessings and protections of God himself, Asia’s Hope is changing lives, transforming communities and innovating models of family-style orphan care that we believe can bring justice and hope to orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.
Please join us in praying for more resources, more divine favor and more opportunities to bring Jesus’ hope to kids currently living at high risk of sexual and economic exploitations.
Take some time to peruse the rest of our website. Check out what God is doing through our ministry; pray for us, and tell your friends, family and co-workers about our vital, life-changing work. And if you’re on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ — please connect with us there as well. We frequently update all of those communication venues with pictures, stories and news items from our 32 homes and 3 schools in Cambodia, Thailand and India.
And if you’d like to talk to someone about any of our projects, or about any aspect of our philosophy or strategy, please contact our project manager Addison Smith or our executive director, John McCollum.
May God bless each of us as we work together to engage suffering and unleash hope.
Caringbah Baptist Church
Central Vineyard Church
Chets Creek Church
Crossroads Community Church
Grace Community Church
Grace Community Church
Heritage Christian Church
Highview Community Church
Lake Forest Church
LIFE Vineyard Church
Narrow Road Church
Scarlet City Church
Vineyard Church of Columbus
Vista Community Church
Western Reserve Grace Church
Westview Bible Church
Wooster Grace Brethren Church
The Battambang 5 Champions Circle
Hope for Cambodia