KENTON — Jim Evans and his wife first heard about Children of the Nations when a representative came to their church in January 2013 to do a presentation of what the organization was about.
“As one of the things we did, we had to walk through the life of a starving child,” said Evans, who is the area community representative for the brand new Children of the Nations Ohio office. “My team had a 14-year-old unsponsored boy. He was an orphan and had to fend for himself. He didn’t go to school. The story ended that he basically starved to death. He got beaten up by older boys for any food he did find. It was just really hard for me to get past that.”
After hearing about the organization, his church, First Baptist Church, Kenton, decided to partner with Los Robles, a village in the Dominican Republic.
“My wife and I had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic with the same organization,” Evans said. “Just being there seemed unreal. It was like walking into a different world.”
When they returned to the United States, Evans and his wife decided that they wanted to be more involved. Evans contacted the Children of the Nations offices, and he was offered a position as the Ohio representative. Evans took early retirement and started his new job.
Children of the Nations is an organization that sponsors children so they can then transform nations.
“What sets us apart is that we are not really a relief organization,” said Evans. “We are in it for the long haul. It’s about sustainability.”
Churches in the United States sponsor villages in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Uganda, Malawi and Sierra Leone, where Children of the Nations have a presence. The church not only sponsors the village, but congregants have the opportunity to sponsor specific children in the village.
“The church sponsorship program links a church with a village or sometimes an orphanage,” said Evans, who supports two children himself. “All kids sponsored by those in that church are from that place. There is a relationship factor involved. The church goes once a year to visit, to see how things are going. It’s about sustaining a relationship.”
Currently, the majority of the organization’s offices are located on the West Coast, with only one office in Florida and one in Massachusetts. Evans’ job is primarily contacting and answering questions of pastors and other organizations that are interested in becoming partners or sponsors.
“It’s not all churches that get involved,” said Evans. “There’s a high school in Maryland that is interested, so I’ll go there next week to talk about the organization.”
Each country also has an office, through which all specific needs of the villages are filtered to its church partner.
Children of the Nations was founded in 1995 by Chris Clark who was raised by missionary parents in Africa. He found through his father’s experiences that too many kids were being missed when relief agencies came in for disaster relief.
“A lot of these children ended up orphans and they were falling through the cracks,” said Evans. “Nobody was caring for them.”
Clark decided to start Children of the Nations as a holistic and sustainable way to fix the problem. Most children enter the sponsorship program at elementary age and are then sponsored through college, if they choose to go.
“Many times, the graduates return to their villages,” said Evans. “They become teachers or go into the medical field and then come back to help their villages. There is a big sustainability factor in what we do.”
Evans said that when Children of the Nations goes into a new area, they first establish schools where there is a standard curriculum, Bible teaching, and then feeding and medical programs are put into place. “We are about the whole child being cared for,” he said.
Evans started the Ohio office in January and has already set up one partnership, but he said that he has several churches and organizations that are interested. He also puts together meal packaging events so food can be sent to these areas of need. One of his goals this year is to send 30,000 meals out, and he has already coordinated 10,000 packaged meals to date.
Evans said his biggest challenge is raising his own funds. Considered as a missionary by Children of the Nations, Evans has to raise his own support. “I’d rather talk about the other countries and their needs,” he said, “not what’s going on with me.”
Despite the challenges, Evans loves his new job. “Every day is different,” he said. “It is really nice to know that what I’m doing makes a difference in someone else’s life.”
For details about Children of the Nations visit www.cotni.org.