Chris and Debbie Clark founded Children of the Nations (COTN) in 1995. However, God was working in their lives many years before, preparing the couple for this ministry.
Chris is himself a fifth-generation missionary raised in Africa by missionary parents. Convinced that God called him to minister to children, he pursued a career with Youth for Christ (YFC), where he worked as Director for ten years. Debbie, a teacher for ten years, also had a heart attuned to children in special need of care.
The turning point came during a project assignment to Africa in 1995, when Chris and Debbie encountered orphans and refugee children in dire need of assistance. Committed to finding help, the Clarks returned to the United States and began searching for an organization or mission agency that would come to the children’s aid. Sadly, they found none willing to offer help; nor, surprisingly, was there a single organization whose sole purpose was to provide for the needs of orphans around the world. Sensing God’s call, Chris and Debbie resigned from YFC to form Children of the Nations, establishing a child sponsorship program to meet this very real need.
Today, Children of the Nations is working in the USA, Dominican Republic, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda and most recently in Haiti to provide care for orphaned and destitute children. Children of the Nations, through funding primarily from child sponsorship and individual donations, operates homes, schools, farms, skill centers, clinics, and village feeding centers in an effort to provide quality care for our children. Each country office is established with an individual mission-based, nonprofit organization and is recognized among reputable Christian charities.
Many people are involved in making this mission and movement a reality. Local governing boards oversee local ministry staff in each country. Our country directors and management committees work closely with staff to provide the best for our children. Missionary staff work with specific tasks as consultants, providing empowerment for our national staff. And we can’t underestimate the impact of the hundreds of individuals from churches, specialty groups, and youth programs who sponsor children and visit our sites to offer support and encouragement. To date, thousands of interns and Venture participants have served for one week to one year in each country.
From the initial desire in 1995 to help children in Africa by “rescuing” them from their despair, to today—creating a family for each child—Children of the Nations has come so far. In 1995, when we welcomed the first child into our child sponsorship program, Children of the Nations was started with a vision, and a monthly budget of $300. Today, Children of the Nations is a worldwide movement of people—over 400 US and international staff, tens of thousands of volunteers, an annual budget of more than $7 million, and a family that has grown to help thousands of children annually in Africa and the Caribbean.
Looking back on the last two decades, we can see that outreach to each country began by God bringing together two resources: people and finances. We are confident that as God blesses us in the future with both resources, Children of the Nations will continue to grow and influence more children.
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