Go and Sponsor a Child…

Over a year ago, Corrine Cook attended a concert on the Christian music tour Winter Jam. Between performances, members of the band NewSong shared a moving presentation about Holt’s child sponsorship program.  Corrine chose to sponsor a girl in Cambodia.  Earlier this month, she had the exceptional opportunity to meet her!  A Holt intern already wrote a blog about their meeting. Here, Corrine tells her own story…

Corrine exchanges gifts with Srey Lam, the 12-year-old girl she sponsors in Cambodia.
One-and-a-half years ago, I sat in a full stadium with music blaring, people singing, and lights shining.  All of the sudden, a quiet hush flowed in from the front to the back as all the lights went down to a single spotlight.  As the strong voice echoed in the stillness, I sat forward in my seat, my eyes riveted to the stage.  The testimony of one man brought tears down my cheeks and a whisper to my ear.  “Go and sponsor a child.”  Now, I made hardly any money with which to support myself, much less someone else. However, I knew I could not resist that still, small voice of the Almighty’s because of the power behind it.  So it was there at a concert that God challenged me to give His money that He had bequeathed to me to a child who was way less fortunate than I.

 

Six months later, I strode on the high ground of a railroad track on the last leg of my journey.  As I stepped onto the trail which entered the small village, I was greeted by many people from a small village in the heart of Cambodia.  One of the first people I saw was the little girl whom God had called me to support.  A great smile crept onto her face as her inquisitive eyes stared up at me.  Even with the language barrier, non-verbal communication radiated between us.  Thankfully though, we were able to carry on a short spoken conversation through an interpreter who also read to me the letter she had written.

It was amazing and heart-wrenching to have the privilege of seeing Srey Lam*, my sponsor child.  To see the small hut they called home with a single mat surrounded by mosquito netting was saddening when I think of the luscious bedroom I am blessed to have.  I have always heard that we are spoiled here in America, but now I know it to be true.  What struck me is how we have so much and are still unhappy and want more.  In Cambodia, they have next to nothing.  They are doing well to get enough food to eat for their next meal, and still, they smile.  They are so willing to give and share their best with us regardless of the fact that they have so little.  Oh, that we could learn from their example.  Although not wealthy by American standards, I am a millionaire to them.  I know that I have been moved to share the abundance that God has given me.

In Cambodia, Holt International works with their local partner organization, Pathways to Development, to provide food and necessities for vulnerable families — such as building restrooms or getting the family animals so they can make money.  They have worked hard and have built and are now running a rice bank from which needy families can borrow until they have their own harvests, and then pay back with a little interest on what they borrowed.  This keeps the families alive until their own harvests come.

It was so amazing to see the work that Holt International and Pathways were doing with these families to make a difference in their lives.  I went there to see what was being done with the monetary gift I was giving Holt, but discovered something much better.    The gift was not the money I send to support Srey Lam and her family, but the knowledge that God is using me to further His kingdom. She was precious, a gift of God to me, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet her.  God is so good!

* name changed

To learn more about Holt’s child sponsorship program, click here.

For more information about Holt’s work and history in Cambodia, click here.

For the first time ever, Winter Jam is coming to the West Coast!  Holt needs volunteers to sign up new sponsors. See tour dates and sign up to volunteer here!

From Sponsor to Volunteer

A long family history with Holt inspires Raylene Merino to give back to the organization

 

Holt International has, literally, always been a part of my life. My grandparents, Raymond and Mable Proxmire, were friends of Harry and Bertha Holt, the founders of Holt International. My grandmother worked alongside Bertha Holt to help families successfully adopt internationally, and ended up adopting four children from Korea, including my father and aunt, who would eventually raise me as her own. As a child, my family would often attend the various Holt-sponsored events for adoptees, and we always had copies of the Holts’ biographies on our bookshelves. Growing up as a Korean-American had its difficulties, but instilled within me was always a deep sense of pride to be tied to such a loving and life-changing organization.

My husband and I first began to sponsor a child about four years ago. We had been married less than a year, and I really wanted to incorporate my Holt history into our married life. After researching the sponsorship process, we signed up online and soon received our paperwork that we had been assigned to an adorable little baby boy from Korea. The information packet was complete with a picture of our sponsored child, and we proudly displayed his picture on our refrigerator. It was great to receive the updates throughout the year; we could read about our child’s health and progress, and we would pray for our child as well as the family that would one day become his adoptive parents. Since beginning our sponsorship, we have seen five of our sponsored children adopted. I expect to never meet these children, but we are all children of God and it means so much to me to be able to help a child while they wait for their “forever family” as Holt refers to it.

 

Having moved from California to North Carolina, I discovered that there weren’t many local Holt activities to get involved in. Through a Holt e-newsletter, I read about the need for Holt volunteers at the Winter Jam concert that would be touring through the state. Winter Jam was an amazing experience! My husband and a friend went with me, and as Holt volunteers, we were given free admission into the concert and some amazing bands performed that night. But most importantly, I was able to share my passion for Holt’s mission as we promoted new child sponsorship. Thanks to Winter Jam, we signed up approximately 300 new sponsors! Praise the Lord!

My love and appreciation for the Holt family and organization continues, and it is my desire to pass on this passion to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Child sponsorship is a joy and a blessing, and I hope to continue the Holt legacy in my own family one day by adopting and providing a precious child with a forever family.

Volunteer at a Winter Jam concert near you!  Click here for concert dates and locations!

 

An American Girl in Haiti

Last July, Tiffany Marshall spent a month volunteering at the Holt Fontana Village, the childcare center Holt supports in Haiti.  An elementary school teacher in Portland, Oregon, Tiffany put her skills to use setting up a child-friendly space for the children at the village.  She organized the children’s toys and games into three themed rooms – one for reading and writing, one for arts and crafts, and one for playtime.

During her stay, she also helped develop an educational sponsorship program for students in the communities surrounding the village.  Tiffany joined Sarah Halfman and Mansour Masse – Holt’s country directors for Haiti – to identify possible schools.  Together, they interviewed 10 school directors in two days, and unanimously chose four schools to support.  At each school, Holt will sponsor between 50 and 100 children – funded entirely by the Holt sponsorship program.

In Portland, the school year has begun and Tiffany is back in the classroom — educating and inspiring her fourth grade students.  But for 23 children at the Holt Fontana Village, her presence is still felt.  She has enriched their lives by creating a space for them to explore, learn and play.  It seems they left an impression on her as well…

Read excerpts from Tiffany’s blog, An American Girl in Haiti, below…

Continue reading “An American Girl in Haiti”

A Heartfelt Encounter in Cambodia

A Holt sponsor meets her sponsored child.  A Holt intern meets the children and families she set out to serve.

In the coming months, Oregon State University student Lauren Fletcher will shine the spotlight on our work in Cambodia, as she completes a three-month IE3 global internship with Holt partner organization Pathways to Development. Lauren, a human services major, just arrived in Phnom Penh.  And already, within her first few days, she accompanied Pathways staff on a journey to visit sponsored children in rural Takeo province.  Here, she also witnessed a truly extraordinary event — the meeting between a young woman named Corrine and the 12-year-old girl she helps support through Holt’s sponsorship program.

Corrine meets Srey Lam, the girl she sponsors through Holt.

Yesterday was a big day for me. Mr. Born, Mr. Chenda, a sponsor named Corrine and her sister and friend gathered at 7am for a journey to visit the child Corrine sponsors through Holt International. Corrine’s sister has been working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the last seven months.  When Corrine decided to travel from her home in Kentucky for a 10-day visit with her sister, she made sure to dedicate a full day to visit the child she began sponsoring this past summer.

The drive to the child’s home lasted about two hours, and concluded on a rough, hard-to-access road through rural Treng district.  Along the way, I saw many people planting rice. Born explained that local farmers will help one another to plant and harvest each other’s rice. To sell their produce, farmers keep bamboo stands alongside the road, where sellers sit and wait for customers in hammocks tied between the poles of the stands.

Once we arrived at our destination, Srey Lam* — the sponsored child — and her family walked up to greet us with hands traditionally placed palm-to-palm before their faces.  Because of the language barrier, we walked towards Srey Lam’s home in silence, but this did not inhibit communication between us. Everyone wore smiles on their faces, especially Srey Lam’s mother and father, while the younger siblings looked on with curiosity. Sitting in the shade of their home – an elevated hut – the thick, sweltering air of Takeo province almost felt bearable. A couple dozen people gathered around us, with gentle smiles gracing their faces.  We sat in the shade, happily sipping raw coconut juice directly from the coconut – through bendy straws inserted into their centers! Continue reading “A Heartfelt Encounter in Cambodia”

Winter Jam to Hit the West Coast this November!

NewSong visiting children in care at BSSK, a Holt partner organization in India.

It’s official!

For the first time ever, the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular will rock the West Coast – kicking off November 3rd in Denver, Colorado.

This is BIG news for West Coast fans of popular Christian music artists, including Kutless, Newsboys and tour host NewSong…

It’s even BIGGER news for children!

For six years running, Holt has teamed up with NewSong to raise awareness of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children overseas. Every year, in jam-packed stadiums from Georgia to Ohio, NewSong artists inspire thousands of people to sponsor a child in need.

Already in 2011, Winter Jam has beat all records – recruiting more Holt sponsors, and changing more children’s lives than ever before!  Thousands more children now have food to eat, clothes to wear, a safe place to sleep and a loving person to care for them.

And NOW, this fall, Winter Jam 2011 will continue out West – rocking the hearts and minds of Christian music fans in 11 more cities, from Ontario, California to Tacoma, Washington!

At Holt, we can’t stop thinking about what this means for children.  This could be huge.

But first, we need your help. We need 100 volunteers to sign up sponsors at each concert.  Volunteers are critical; they provide the vital link between children and potential sponsors.  Turnout on the first leg of the tour was amazing!  Over 4,700 dedicated, compassionate people volunteered their time and energy…

It’s time, West Coasters, to show Winter Jam what we’re made of!  Volunteering is easy and fun, comes with FREE entry and a FREE CD, and takes 4-5 hours of your time – all to change a child’s life forever.

Tell your family!  Tell your friends!  Rock the House with Holt and NewSong this fall, at Winter Jam 2011!

For more information and to volunteer, visit us online at www.holtinternational.org/winterjam or email suep@holtinternational.org.

Volunteering is easy and fun!

When you send a girl to school…

After completing her education, Shyla returned to VCT to teach children at the care center.

“In the Indian culture, when you send a boy to school, you change his life and that continues to be so important. But when you send a girl to school, you can change an entire generation.”

So says Mary Paul, director of Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT), a Holt partner organization in India.  Every year, Holt’s wonderful sponsors send hundreds of children in India — mostly girls — to school.  Most of these girls would otherwise be working as domestic servants, earning income to help support their families.

Recently, the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon featured the story of one girl and her strong single mother* who, determined to give her daughter an education, asked VCT to sponsor her education.  That was 11 years ago.  Today, this girl is 29 years old.  She works as an assistant teacher at the same place that gave her an education — teaching children in care, and changing generations to come.

Click here to read Shyla’s story in full.

To learn more about Holt’s work in India, click here.

Click this link to read about Holt sponsorship and how you can send a girl to school in India.

* Correction:  In the story, Shyla’s mother is described as “unwed.” She was in fact married, but raised Shyla on her own as a “single mother.”

Honoring Harry Holt on His Birthday

 

Today would have been Harry Holt’s 106th birthday. Since Holt International’s beginning in 1955, 40,758 children have gone home to loving families in the United States. On this special day, we remember Harry Holt and his vision for every child to know the love of a permanent family.

Harry’s wife, Bertha, once said, “The Lord can use anyone, Harry Holt, or you, or even me, to accomplish miracles, if we say ‘Yes, Lord.’”

Honor Harry Holt today by saying “yes” and providing monthly support to a child in need through Holt’s sponsorship program.  Click here for more information.

Happy Birthday, Harry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch a Live Webcast of Winter Jam on March 19th!

Winter Jam special guest speaker Tony Nolan traveled to China with Holt in 2009. At Winter Jam, Nolan shares his story and calls on the audience to " care for orphans and widows in their distress. (James 1:27)" Holt child sponsorship is one way you can do this! http://www.holtinternational.org/sponsorship

Couldn’t make it to a Winter Jam concert near you?  Grand Canyon University presents Winter Jam 2011 live!  Join hearitfirst.com tomorrow, March 19th at 6 pm EST (3 pm PST) to watch a live Webcast of a Winter Jam concert.  Experience Winter Jam from your home!  Listen to artists like Francesca Battistelli, the David Crowder Band and the Newsboys….and hear NewSong and inspirational speaker Tony Nolan speak about Holt International’s child sponsorship program and the opportunity to provide food, clothing, shelter and warmth to a child in need.

Click here to register for the Webcast of Winter Jam 2011 live from North Carolina’s Crown Coliseum!

Find out more about Winter Jam.  Click here to read a blog from Winter Jam 2011 in Lexington.

 

Change a child’s Life Forever!…..sponsor a child in need today!  Click here to choose a country and a child to sponsor.

 

 

Winter Jam Rocks Lexington! — Children’s Lives Changed Through Child Sponsorship

With Christian music group NewSong leading the way, volunteers at Holt’s Winter Jam concert make tremendous strides in helping children in need through child sponsorship

By Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

Lexington, Kentucky– It’s hours before the first act and throngs of people of all ages— in a line five people wide — wrap around a city block. When I look outside 50 minutes prior to the pre-show, the crowd is wrapped around two city blocks, snaking through a public parking lot next to the Rupp Arena in Lexington.

volunteers help concertgoers sign up to sponsor a child in need. Children will receive warmth, security, nutrition and safety because of the people who committed to sponsoring!

Inside the arena, with 20 minutes to showtime, youth pastors from hundreds of miles away are meeting for the youth leadership reception. Members of groups like the David Crowder Band and Newsboys come and pray and encourage youth leaders and their ministries. They are all so full of energy and impassioned for the youth ministry of Lexington and surrounding areas. Tony Nolan wraps up the reception. He calls on youth leaders to step up and lead by example. To walk the talk. Tony calls on them to sponsor a child through Holt International. He says that this is a way for the leaders to live what they preach. “Step up and help the widows and orphans in their time of plight,” Tony says. “We are called to this.  Now let’s show our youth how it’s done.”

As the youth pastors rush the Holt International table, which is stacked with hundreds of sponsorship picture folders, a rumble comes from the main auditorium. The countdown to the main event has started. NewSong takes the stage. Fifteen thousand fans come to their feet, singing and praising God at the top of their lungs. Dan Lindsay, Holt International’s tour representative, hangs back during the NewSong set to count the new sponsorships from the youth pastor reception. Nearly ten percent of those who attended the reception made a commitment to sponsor a child. He smiles and indicates that the evening is starting out well.

Moving backstage, NewSong members come down from their set and grab waters, sharing smiles and laughing about their performance. Eddie Carswell quickly turns on his heel to pop back out onstage and introduce the next act. Returning backstage, Eddie turns to Dan and asks him about the number of volunteers. “Over a hundred showed up,” Dan replies. A big grin flashes across his face. “With all those volunteers tonight, it should be a good show for Holt and for the children. We couldn’t make this work without the volunteers.”

Intermission arrives. Eddie comes on stage and shares about the mission of Holt International, the importance of child sponsorship, and how it can change a child’s life. In an arena of fifteen thousand, the audience is nearly silent and listens to every word. When Eddie finishes and releases the audience, a reverberating roar is heard as masses of people move to the Holt table, where hundreds of child sponsorship folders wait. Dozens of volunteers move around the tables, helping folks fill out forms. Some volunteers bring child folders to the people still sitting in the arena.

A younger couple looks over the information of the little girl they just sponsored. When asked about their decision to sponsor this particular little girl, the woman’s lower lip starts to quiver. Continue reading “Winter Jam Rocks Lexington! — Children’s Lives Changed Through Child Sponsorship”

Be a Voice for Children!– Winter Jam Volunteers Share their Stories

As an adoptee, I felt like Winter Jam would be the perfect way to share my love for Holt, and my desire to help the agency I was adopted

Kim, a Holt adoptee, a her husband, Joe, volunteered at Winter Jam 2011 in Cleveland. Of her experience Kim says, "It was an amazing feeling to know that I was helping children in need."
from.  Anyone can volunteer; it’s so easy! My husband and I had such an uplifting experience.

Our best wishes go out to all the wonderful people who chose to sponsor a child.

We enjoyed a fantastic concert while making a difference in children’s lives! Joe and I were Winter Jam volunteer newbies. We met other volunteers and enjoyed their company, heard great music and listened to inspirational speakers. As we were leaving, the volunteers said to us: “See you next year!” We sure will! We will make volunteering at Winter Jam a family tradition! – Kim Domino, Winter Jam volunteer

“Last Saturday, we had the privilege of working at the Holt sponsorship table before, during and after the concert. Since this was only the second concert of 2011, there were a lot of children available for sponsorship. When I saw the children’s pictures on the table, I became overwhelmed thinking about the many little ones out there who were just waiting for someone to help them. Throughout the night, a lot of people came and picked up a child’s card. Some of them decided to sponsor a child, and some didn’t. Seeing vulnerable children’s cards being placed back down on the table was very difficult to watch. I would love to volunteer again, and I hope and pray that each concert brings people – and lots of them – who are willing to sponsor a child in desperate need of help.”Kathy Brown, volunteer at the Winter Jam concert in Charleston, West Virginia

Anastacia (right) volunteers at Winter Jam 2011 in DeKalb, Illinois. Find a concert near you! Go to http://www.holtinternational.org/winterjam.

Holt, thank you so much for the opportunity to volunteer and be a voice for children! At Winter Jam 2010, I heard the sponsorship message and personally took caring for children in need to a whole new level by becoming a sponsor myself! This year, I was able to see others make that same transformation through hearing the message and taking to heart what each and every person can do to make a difference in the life of a child! Caring for orphans and widows in their distress is God’s plan for us. Through sponsorship, making a difference is so easy! Thank you to Holt and Winter Jam for an awesome evening of praise and excitement! Being a Holt volunteer was a blast, and I’m looking forward to signing up again next year! —Anastacia Singleton, Holt sponsor and Winter Jam volunteer

In 2010, over 10,000 Winter Jam concertgoers said “YES” to sponsoring a child! This year, we’ve set our sights higher…Help us reach 15,000 sponsors – 300 at each concert! It’s easy and fun! Check to see if Winter Jam is coming to your town and sign up online. Email suep@holtinternational.org for more information. Rock the House with Holt and NewSong at Winter Jam 2011 – Raise Your Voice for Children!

Click here for more information…