“Three things come to mind.”
1. Agency requirements: I would imagine that you would go overseas with an agency. I would certainly recommend this. If so, I’m sure they would have their own requirements and suggestions for both academic and practical training.
2. Academic training: In terms of academic preparation, I think that something in the field of educational psychology would be of help. You will be working with children who undoubtedly have experienced a lot of both physical and psychological trauma. The more you know about these issues, the greater will be your sensitivity to them, understand their reactions, and how to approach, teach, and love them effectively.
Since you will be going to a different culture, it would be helpful to take at least one course on cultural anthropology.
Since you will want to talk to them about Jesus, I think some biblical and theological training would be helpful.
3. Practical experience: If you haven’t had practical experience in an orphanage in your own country, I would encourage you to either work or volunteer in one. Learn the good, bad, and the ugly of institutional life. It will also be an affirmation of your call, or show you that you really you are not cut out for this kind of work.
Also, if you know of an effective Sunday School teacher, learn what you can from him or her. Pray that the Lord will guide you step by step. He loves orphans, and says so a number of times in the Old Testament. He gives special grace to those who serve them.
Answer from Jack Voelkel, missionary-in-residence with the Urbana Student Mission Convention; originally published on the Urbana website. Previously, Jack served thirty years with Latin America Mission in Peru and Colombia. Find other answers and articles from Jack and others on the Urbana blog.
“Have open arms and an empty lap.”
To serve children at risk I recommend a university degree in social work, counseling, or education. But the main qualification is open arms and empty laps!
Answer from Phyllis Kilbourn, director of Rainbows of Hope.
“Look at these organizations. Ask what training they recommend.”
Many organizations are working to improve the quality of life for abandoned children in other countries. Each organization has different qualifications for the type of training one needs to work in orphanage and foster care programs.
– Rainbows of Hope
– The Viva Children’s Network
– World Children’s Orphanages, a program of Teen Missions
– Kids Alive International
– Dillon International
– World Vision
– Holt International
– Feed the Children
Answer from Karin.