Where can we help?
— Mary Kathryn Tiller · Tuesday, December 10, 2019 —
As Orphan Outreach enters into their second decade of service, Amy Norton has spent time reflecting on the organization’s journey and accomplishments. This time of reflection has served as a reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness and provided her a deep conviction and comfort that He will continue to provide and lead their way.
Amy is Co-founder and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Orphan Outreach. Her role includes fundraising, in-country program development and expansion, and partnership development within the United States with churches and other organizations.
“I help consider which programs or NGO’s have synergy with Orphan Outreach and then find the best ways to partner with them. I’m also very involved in our programs, in terms of developing them and looking at how we might expand in the countries we serve,” Amy explained.
Amy’s love of orphaned and vulnerable children began during her work as an attorney. She worked within the social care system as a guardian ad litem; serving children who suffered neglect and abuse. Her passion only grew as she began to serve internationally; traveling to and eventually adopting from Russia.
“My husband David and I adopted our son, Johnathan, from Russia in 1995,” remembered Amy. “At the time, it was pretty unheard of to start your family through adoption, especially with a nine-year-old boy with special needs. But it was very clear to us Jonathan was supposed to be a part of our family.”
After dedicating several years to Johnathan’s care and education, Amy and David added two biological children to their family, Madeleine and David Allen. All three of their children have since left the nest, opening the door for more travel opportunities with Orphan Outreach.
“I have always done a fair share of traveling, both to raise funds in the United States, oversee the programs and as a trip leader. My children have each had the opportunity to travel with me which has been a huge blessing, but my hope is to be able to all go together on a mission trip as a family, "Amy said.
As a co-founder, Amy was an integral part of developing the vision and mission for Orphan Outreach. At the time, Amy had been working with vulnerable children for over 16 years, and co-founder Mike Douris had been working in that area for about 34 years. As they considered everything they had seen in those years, they asked themselves, ‘what is the biggest need these children have?’
Through months of conversation and prayer, several elements floated to the surface: ongoing support for special needs children, continued support for children aging out of the orphan care system and a Christian education geared towards empowering children and their families to break out of the cycle of poverty. Identifying and meeting needs is an ongoing process, however; one that Amy and the staff at Orphan Outreach consider a top priority.
“We continually look at where kids are falling through the gaps and where they really need support,” Amy explained. “We are constantly asking ‘where do the gifts and talents the Lord has given us fit into this picture? Where can we help and come alongside them?’”
While Amy has seen a great deal of joy throughout her years at Orphan Outreach, she has never become numb to the tremendous need that continues to exist in the world.
“It can be hard sometimes. Mike always says, ‘’Till Jesus comes back there’s going to be poverty and there’s going to be tragedy and we have to understand that. We can only do our part.’ And that’s why we constantly go back to the Lord because we can’t do everything. We can’t help all of them, so we need to know where to focus. We pray about everything. We put a lot of thought and prayer into everything we do and the decisions we make. We move fairly slowly because we want to be sure we’re accountable with the funds donors give us, with whatever doors the Lord opens, and to the children that He’s brought to us to serve,” said Amy.
Some of the children the Lord has brought Amy are children she met on her first trip to Russia in 1995. Like her own children, they are grown now, but they still text her and write to her, updating her on their life and asking for prayer.
“There’s a boy I met on that very first trip, Vanya, and we still write. In fact, we’re writing right now because he just graduated from University and he’s trying to find a job. And my other sweet girl, who is like a daughter to me, just had a baby three weeks ago. We texted the entire time she was in labor,” Amy laughed.
Like Amy, the staff at Orphan Outreach considers their work a life-long calling, and she believes it is this passion and dedication that sets them apart.
“All of our staff are just so committed,” expressed Amy, “Everybody has a huge heart for these children and huge heart for what we do. We consider ourselves very much a team and a family and that includes our staff overseas. We are all just one body serving together.”
“Coming from West Texas, going to law school, I never in a million years would’ve guessed I would be working in international ministry,” Amy reflected, “There were just so many God moments, so many career things that the Lord used to bring me to this point. You know, we’re so busy moving forward we often forget to look back. But I think that looking back and remembering the journey and the people who have invested in Orphan Outreach, who have continued to give and walk alongside us so faithfully...it’s so affirming. It gives me such peace about the Lord’s plan moving forward.”
If you would like to be a part of the Lord’s provision for Orphan Outreach in the coming year, consider becoming a James 127 advocate.