There are more than 150 million orphans in the world. Even though this number is staggering, the staff and volunteers at Saving Susan Ministry (SSM), a Kennesaw-based nonprofit, work hard to make a difference in the lives of many orphans, one step at a time. Its mission is simple, elevating orphan care in developing countries through local partnerships with Christian families. Each child served is partnered with a loving family, to enrich their education and support them in a holistic way.
Parent partnering is the heart of the ministry; it is a unique approach where families are matched with orphans in countries whose borders are closed to adoption due to human trafficking. It is a relational experience that also provides financial support. The commitment to build relationships is key. This is accomplished through regular video calls and caring for the orphan as your own, with the intention to remain with the child until graduation, at least. There are four other programs, in addition to parent partnering.
As the child’s grasp of the English language grows, the connection with the parent partner deepens.
Investing in music education enhances the children’s lives in many ways.
These trips are taken to serve the orphan communities and provide the opportunity for parent partners to meet their sponsored children.
All parent-partnered orphans are eligible to apply for funding assistance for university or trade school.
After a mission trip in 2013 to Bileg Solid Rock children’s home in Cambodia, Jay Arntzen met many orphans, but one, Vichika, stole his heart. He couldn’t pronounce her name, so he called her Susan. This little girl inspired him to return with his wife, Tracy, the next year, to present the idea of parent partnering. The nonprofit, Saving Susan Ministry, was formed in 2015, and it has been growing exponentially since, serving orphan communities in Cambodia and Guatemala.
Despite the pandemic, SSM has thrived and expanded. “Our vision for the future is a global ministry that changes lives,” co-founder Tracy Arntzen said. “We desire our organization to outlive the founders. We are working toward that goal by launching an associate board of young professionals in their 20s to 30s. These are the future members of our executive board.”
The nonprofit’s next steps program also has some exciting news. Two students are in medical school, one is in culinary school and another will graduate soon.
“Sopheak was one of our first college students,” Tracy said. “I took her on two college visits in 2017. She is now ready to graduate from Royal University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We couldn’t be more proud! She will be graduating soon with a degree in education, and she has plans to return to school for a law degree, after teaching a year in the orphan community school where she was raised.”
“I’m thankful to God that he blessed me with a scholarship to college,” Sopheak said. “I am learning a lot by living in the city. I haven’t had to worry about the financial part of going to college. SSM leaders are teaching me how to manage my scholarship funds. I am so thankful.”
Saving Susan Ministry currently serves 92 orphans, including 12 through its next steps program. For more information or to volunteer, visit savingsusanministry.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations of musical instruments for the music academy are always welcome. Support the organization by registering for the Saving Susan Sparkle and Shine Green Tie Gala on Nov. 13 at the Marietta Conference Center.
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.