Soon after they knew adoption would be their calling, they brought Hope home from the Eastern European country of Moldova. It was a process that Andy said allowed the Lord to show them that not only do they have a heart for orphans, but also for the enormous need of adoption overall.
The Birchfields have adopted three children from Molvoda –they are now aged 14 (Hope); 14 (Will); and 11 (Lena). They also have two adult children, Beth and Dow.
There are up to 200 million orphans worldwide, and Andy said, “we knew we could make a small difference. As we walked through that process of adoption, we saw the need.”
The Birth of Children’s Hope
In 2010, the Lord placed the need for a new church ministry at First Baptist Church, Montgomery, focused on caring for orphans and vulnerable children, on the hearts of Andy and Tanya. This was after they brought Cristina Hope into their family.
They formed a prayer group among members of First Baptist Church to seek God’s plan. After a few months, a plan began to formulate, and on September 26, 2010, Children’s Hope was officially launched.
Children’s Hope and their partners care for children, strengthen families, and serve communities in Haiti through multiple programs – a children’s home, education initiative, medical/dental clinic, community outreach, and a vibrant mission team ministry that serves Haitian communities in partnership with local churches and community leaders.
I think that the key for me is that we can make a real difference in the lives of people who need it most.Andy Birchfield
Andy, who practices law at Beasley Allen. uses the motto “helping those who need it most.”
“That echoes the word of Jesus in Matthew 25… “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Being able to help the vulnerable children in Haiti, we’re able to make a significant impact. Truly, with the medical clinic, it’s a life or death difference.”
The first children’s home was established in Jacmel, Haiti, on a rented property shortly after the devastating earthquake of 2010. This is when the Birchfields saw a tremendous need and began providing and caring for 16 children – that today has grown to 50 children with an ideal property and staff.“
We had adopted a child before we started Children’s Hope,” Tanya said. “My motivation was to bring light orphans to our church. If they knew, and had access, and could see these children, they would be motivated to go.“
And they did. We’ve had lots of people go on mission trips. We’re so sad the country has become more of a war zone in the past years. I just wanted people to know. They loved our little Hope, and I thought if they could see more…”
The Birchfields thought they would enter Haiti and help an already-established orphanage. But before they officially adopted Hope, and during a “family hug” moment, Tanya remembers looking in the mirror and recalls it was one of the times God spoke to her.
Guided her. And it was just the beginning.
Over the years, the expansion of care at Children’s Hope has gone beyond orphans. With the great needs in Haiti– after recent hurricanes and tornadoes –the ministry has provided rice to widows, helped find affordable housing for those displaced by storms, and has provided outreach to the prison system.
The social services department in Jacmel, the city where Children’s Hope is located, reached out to the ministry to ask whether they could help with the youth in the prison system.
Initially, the Birchfields saw this as an opportunity for the orphans to create hygiene kits as a way to show the youth in prison the love of Christ and the importance of helping others.
Beyond that, the ministry was able to help improve conditions at the prison, including building a medical shelter so prison officials could segregate those who were sick.“
We have our staff go on a weekly basis and minister to those in the prison,” Andy described some of the conditions as “so crowded, all the prisoners could not lay down on the floor at the same time.”
“They would eat off the floor. There was no latrine. You had human waste in the cell.
Children’s Hope also oversees transition homes that house orphans who are 16 and older, where they can start preparation for life on their own. There are separate homes for boys and girls, and they are exposed to different trades including electrical and mechanical work.
One boy, Eddie, is going into seminary.
He was a young boy who came to Children’s Hope after his father was unable to care for him. His diaper was dirty, his face, expressionless. He never smiled, never spoke.
Years passed by, and he started to lead the choir at Children’s Hope by the time he was in his early teens. He danced. He earned a certification for tile work.“
For kids, like Eddie, to go from the condition he was in, to evolving into this incredibly outgoing, full of life youngman, it’s just a reminder that the Lord is giving us the opportunity,” Andy said. “It’s rewarding and humbling.”
There have been hurdles to overcome in creating and expanding Children’s Hope. There’s the paperwork, certificates, and times when Haiti was shut down –because of protests, fuel shortages.
Asked how people can help Children’s Hope, Tanya said, “The main thing right now is to pray for stability. At one point, we were having trouble scheduling everybody who wanted to go.“
We are depending on a Haitian staff right now, and they are doing really well. Financially, it costs a lot, because things in Haiti cost a lot. They don’t have electricity, so they have to have fuel to run things. You’re lucky if you can go somewhere and get on a computer. Pray for peace and stability. And that the children come to know Christ.”
To Give: Your donation will change lives in Haiti as we care for children, strengthen families, and serve communities in Jesus’ name. Visit online at childrenshope.givingfuel.com/give.
To Contact: Use the contact form on the childrenshope.com website, or call 334-834-6310.
Kym Klass is a contributing writer and Communications Director of the Media Ministry at Frazer MemorialUMC in Montgomery.