“I have seen their faces, and I cannot forget.” –Matt Hartsell, Founder
It all started with a baby.
In 1999, when my wife and I traveled to Moscow, Russia, to finalize the adoption of our child, our hearts awakened to a reality that our eyes had already seen.
We had come to Moscow with this American idea of an orphan—one where a child’s basic needs are still met. But that wasn’t the case here.
Children experienced the brutal Russian winters without adequate clothing.
Their bodies were ravaged with hunger.
Their minds were desperate for knowledge.
It was devastating.
163 million orphans across the world. We knew this number. We were compelled by this number, but we knew that we couldn’t let our influence stop with the child we were bringing home from a Russian orphanage, so we began asking ourselves, “What can we realistically do to make a difference in the lives of these children?”
As the months passed by, our desire to make an impact only continued grow. Every time we’d search God’s word, we’d see another reference to caring for the poor, the fatherless, the needy. We discovered over two thousand verses throughout the Bible that called us to seek justice for the oppressed, and we realized that our option to plead ignorance had vanished.
God had opened our eyes, and now, we had to act.
In 2000, Forgotten Children Worldwide began as God Will Make a Way Ministries. We had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t know where God was going to take us. We didn’t even have a building. The only thing we were armed with was our faith and trust in God.
For 12 years, volunteers collected and stored used clothing in an 8 x 16 closet, shipping 1,000 boxes at a time to Russia. In 2012, thanks to generous donors and a marvelous work of God, Forgotten Children Worldwide exchanged our 128 square feet for a 10,000 square foot headquarters in Bluffton, Indiana. Each month, clothing is collected, packed, and shipped 20,000 pounds at a time to children living throughout India and the Ukraine. Additionally, community groups regularly use our headquarters throughout the week; volunteers and staff collaborate, working together to carry out a mission centered on grace and mercy, and Heshima, The Store of New Beginnings, sells products made by young women working to overcome third-world poverty through obtaining a college education.
We began this ministry firmly believing that God would make a way, and today, Forgotten Children Worldwide has expanded into a ministry that partners with global communities, seeking justice through empowerment and providing sponsorships, orphan home grants, and self-sustainability grants and projects.
All across the world, millions of children have determined that no one cares about their survival. To the society that surrounds them, they have become invisible—the unseen, forgotten children.
But I have seen their faces, and I cannot forget.
Matt Hartsell, Founder