I’d like to introduce you to Jordan Palser, a former college wingmate of mine who now serves as International Humanitarian Manager with Orphan’s Promise. (Photos by Jordan Palser)
Jordan, what is Orphan’s Promise and what is your role there?
Orphan’s Promise is a global orphan care ministry founded by Terry Meeuwsen and birthed out of her personal life and family. We advocate adoption awareness, foster care, family, and more. For eight years we have worked in over 60 countries; and we currently work in over 50 countries and impact more than 100,000 children annually. Our mission comes from Jesus’ promise in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
After serving in the humanitarian field for nine years, I joined Orphan’s Promise a year ago to help our partners in several countries. I’ve spent much time assisting with projects in Africa. In a Joseph-like situation, however, the Lord has once again required my humanitarian experience for the benefit of Orphan’s Promise’s endeavors.
What types of events or crises determine Orphan’s Promise’s mobilization?
Orphan’s Promise supports organizations, missionaries, and churches that are working to reach orphans and vulnerable children, as well as families, in their communities. We assure them that they will be able to continue their work with further provision. We believe in empowering others to do what they are already doing well.
Where in the world have you traveled?
I had only been to Latin American countries in my previous work. Since joining Orphan’s Promise I’ve visited seven countries on three other continents: Thailand, Ukraine, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Kenya, and South Africa. During those times I’ve been able to observe culture and travel within countries more than the average tourist. The things my eyes have seen have been both incredible and life-changing.
What type of risk is involved? Have you ever faced real danger?
I have been fortunate to have not faced real danger; however, there have been some travels that required caution. Last year I traveled with colleagues to Nigeria at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan. We prayed together before leaving the States and throughout our time there. Recently, I was in rural Kenya and our partner was a pastor who had to hire an armed guard to ride with us from the airport for the two-hour drive to his town.
What is something the average Christian layperson should know about this type of mission work? What can you tell us to dispel the myth of the luxury of doing missions?
Some governments are trying to reduce or eliminate orphanages in their countries; and some organizations and ministries are striving to provide other solutions for taking care of children. Institutional care may be an option for shelter, but it’s not always the best long-term solution.
International travel always sounds glamorous because there are some beautiful places, even in third-world and developing countries. But there is much more that people don’t realize. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual issues to deal with that Americans don’t think about regularly.
Tell us about a moment when you were completely broken by something you observed.
I expected poverty in Asia and Africa, and I saw it in most places. But it was a day in western Ukraine when we visited a gypsy village that caught me by surprise. I will never forget it. A single mother and her family had been kicked out of their home; the children had been left alone by an alcoholic father. The kids were dirty and only God knew how long it had been since their last meal. It was a sobering realization about children’s needs in many of these places.
How does your study of the scriptures and missions work enhance each another?
Working for a Christian organization can easily become routine. The Word and prayer are not just helpful; they are essential. Psalm 23 says, “The Lord refreshes our soul; He comforts us; and He guides our path.” It is so important in ministry and humanitarian work to not allow things to become casual. I view this path as a calling. God has called us in different ways according to how he designed us. I am passionate about missions and sharing what I do because God commanded us to help the oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow (Isaiah 1:17).
What is the most amazing thing you’ve witnessed God do or orchestrate?
The best thing I’ve witnessed is the smiles of all the children and people I have met simply in visiting them! The expressions on their faces are priceless and unforgettable. To be a vessel of God’s love, hope, and peace—that is a humbling gift (John 14:27).
How can people learn more about Orphan’s Promise and support it?
So glad you asked this question! We just updated our website: OrphansPromise.org. There is as much information as you have time for there. Also, there are social media links with updates and video stories. We would appreciate you following us!
What are two things people would be surprised to know about you?
First, it is an extraordinary privilege to serve children and people of the world. As a pastor’s son, I considered non-profit work for later in my life; and I had completely different career aspirations in college. Thankfully, God intervened. This has truly been a walk of faith for me for over ten years. I’ve learned the significance of obedience to God. His path is best.
Second, I got my first passport only a few years before my initial international experience on a church mission trip. I met missionaries growing up and wanted to visit some international cities; but I never had a compelling desire to go abroad until more recently.
What questions do you have for Jordan?