That's approximately how many orphaned and vulnerable children are in the world today.
When Mike Hahn heard this statistic in 2009 – which was 143 million at the time – he was understandably bothered.
For three weeks he tossed and turned at night. "I would wake up thinking about a hundred and forty-three million children," Mike says. "I'd go to sleep at night thinking about a hundred and forty-three million children."
He felt compelled to do something to help.
Building the groundwork
After much praying and planning, Mike and his wife, Christa, started a nonprofit organization called His Little Feet – a Windsor, Colorado-based international children's choir and life training academy. The choir and school – designed to impact the lives of children who have come from hurting places and to be a voice for orphaned and vulnerable children worldwide – partners with orphanages and Christian ministries throughout the U.S. and abroad. His Little Feet travels across the U.S. each year, bringing awareness to the 150 million children around the world in need. Ultimately, their goal is to inspire others to give time, resources and their lives to children living in poverty.
"We began with 16 children from Haiti," Christa recalls. Since then, the program has included children from Honduras, Ethiopia, India, China, Haiti, Kenya, South Korea and the U.S. "Each one of those children represents thousands of children throughout the world."
Mike and Christa initially launched the choir thinking it would be just for a season. Today they both recognize it as a lifelong calling that reaches around the globe.
Singing strong for success
The choir stops at churches, Christian schools and special events where the children perform a culturally unique, Gospel-centered program through songs and share stories of the hardships they've endured and overcome.
"Every single one of the children in the choir are living miracles; none of them should be alive today," says Christa. "That's how extreme a lot of their stories are. And now they're presenting joy and a message of hope despite their circumstances."
The children attend the His Little Feet Life Training Academy where they are taught academics, performing arts and valuable life skills. The children have the opportunity to make lifelong relationships with children from other parts of the world, notes Christa. And when the tour is over, they return to their home country encouraged and equipped to be leaders in their own communities.
Hearing their call for help
This contagious message of hope inspired Thrivent member Mike Elsbecker.
Elsbecker wanted to do something special in support of the program, so he applied to lead a Thrivent Action Team.
"The more people understand what's going on, the more they have an opportunity to get involved and help in some way," he says, adding that he used some of the seed money from his Thrivent Action Team to create promotional materials about His Little Feet and to educate people on how they can help orphans around the world.
Mike and Christa rely on people such as Elsbecker to spread the message of His Little Feet. "We have many resources here in the U.S.," says Mike. "But there is extreme poverty and a lot of needs around the globe. We want to connect these two worlds."
You can make a difference too
Find out how you can apply for a Thrivent Action Team and make a difference for a cause you care about. If you're an eligible Thrivent member, you can help support His Little Feet and other nonprofit programs by directing Choice Dollars®.