A New Concept in Orphan Care
Did you know there are more than 150 million orphans worldwide? Orphaned children often lack guidance, support, structure, love and attention. Saving Susan Ministry (SSM) is dedicated to reversing the effects of abandonment by connecting orphans with loving Christian families.
The organization’s parent-partnering program is a unique approach to orphan care in countries with borders closed to adoption due to the dangers of human trafficking. More than just financial support for a parentless child, it is an experience that requires a commitment to building relationships through regular video calls and an opportunity for families to meet their sponsored child in person on SSM’s mission trips.
“Having a parent partner with Saving Susan Ministry means that I have someone beside me to love, care, support, encourage and teach me in many ways,” said Cambodian orphan Sopheak Loas. “I’m so grateful that I have the chance to study in college.” Loas is a student in her third-year training to be a teacher at the Royal University of Phnom Pehn.
In 2013, SSM’s co-founder, Jay Arntzen, met a little girl named Vichika on a mission trip to Cambodia. He nicknamed her Susan because he couldn’t pronounce her name. God ignited a special bond between the two and gave Arntzen a desire to adopt her. However, after his return home, he learned U.S. borders are closed to adoption in Cambodia.
Arntzen continued to pray about what could be done. He did not allow this difficulty to thwart his efforts to make a difference in the lives of Susan and other children at that orphanage. Arntzen, along with his wife Tracy, established SSM in 2015 to serve orphans not only in Cambodia, but also Guatemala. Presently, there are 39 children connected with parent partners, and an additional 32 waiting to be paired.
Saving Susan Ministry’s motto is one child, one step at a time. Their mission:
- Connecting children with loving and godly parent partners who video call with them regularly.
- Enrolling children in online English courses.
- Awarding scholarships for students to attend universities or trade schools in their own countries.
- Providing beneficial music education through Music Academies, which includes professional instruction and donated instruments, at partnering orphanages.
- Assisting in the development of Christ-centered sports teams.
- Orchestrating mission trips to build relationships with orphanage staff, partners and children.
Looking back on their journey with SSM, parent partners Bill and Anna Burbridge say they can see God’s hand at work from the very beginning.
“What are the odds that I, an Italian immigrant to France, would go to Germany for a year and end up marrying a young airman from Iowa? And that we couldn’t have children of our own?” Anna said. “It is amazing to look back on how God orchestrated the tapestry that is our life. Much later, we ended up going on a mission trip to Guatemala with SSM and met and fell in love with Hugo and Jelbin. They call us Grandpa and Grandma and we love it. We take our commitment to them very seriously. God had a plan, and he was waiting for us to put our ‘yes’ on the table, and because we have, he has blessed us handsomely.”
For more information, or to donate to Saving Susan Ministry, visit www.savingsusanministry.org. The organization’s music program always needs donated instruments. To learn more about becoming a parent partner, or for information on the upcoming tennis and coed pickle ball fundraiser, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Susan Schulz is a wife, mom, writer and mentor who lives and plays along the Etowah River in Canton.