Alumni Spotlight: Anna (Alderman) Smith
Anna Alderman graduated from TBC in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
During her time at TBC, Anna was involved with Student Life and travelled with the Aletheians. (That was the name of the singing team at that time.)
Her freshman year Anna met Andrew Smith, a fellow freshman. However, he was deployed to Iraq later that year. Their paths crossed once again during Anna’s senior year at TBC. Not long after her graduation and Andrew’s return from duty, they became engaged and were married in late 2004.
Both Anna and Andrew have a heart for ministry. For over ten years they served in youth ministry in their local church. They loved every aspect of it. But then, about 6 six years ago they felt God was transitioning them into another season of life. It all started to take shape the year they celebrated their tenth anniversary.
For their 10th anniversary, they planned a fun trip to the Dominican.
Their plan was to spend a day with a young missionary couple there and then go on to a resort to enjoy their vacation. But that wasn’t quite how it played out. They both laugh about it now.
“That one day turned into two and then three… and by the last day of our trip we still had not made it to the resort!”
Through their friendship with the missionaries in the Dominican, they met several orphans and saw first-hand some of the needs in the area. Andrew had seen similar circumstances while in the military, but at that time had not been in the position to help. Now, both Anna and Andrew felt that they had stability, resources, and time to devote to helping others in need.
It was then that the Smiths began to get involved with orphan care.
Through a connection in India, they began to volunteer time, skills, and money to support an orphanage ministry in southern India. The more time they invested into this ministry, the more apparent it became that this needed to be Andrew’s focus full-time. That meant transitioning out of their position in the church.
Of course, change can be unsettling.
Even when that change is clearly the right step. Anna felt some uncertainty — especially at first — but it soon became clear that this was indeed what God wanted from them.
“When we first got out of ministry, it was uncomfortable. In ministry, Andrew had a stable job. Leaving that felt a little scary for us. But God started bringing all these random little jobs our way that used our strengths, and that has been such a huge blessing.”
Anna is a photographer and she and Andrew both use their skills to manage media projects for various customers.
Anna also homeschools their three children. (Thanks to COVID we all understand how challenging that can be!) All of these things provided flexibility and time to travel and raise support and awareness for the orphanage in India.
Andrew began to travel to India multiple times a year and served as a liaison between the US and the Indian orphanage, raising awareness and financial support.
They also researched non-profits and ways to capitalize on the resources already at their disposal.
One year ago (March 2020) Andrew and Anna founded Orphans In Asia.
Orphans In Asia is a non-profit that exists to establish orphanages, feeding centers, schools, and conduct special events which have a direct impact on the lives of orphans. They also offer grants to help families that are adopting from Asia.
“In hindsight, that was literally the worst time to start a non-profit!”
Andrew says this with a laugh. But God has done some incredible things especially considering this situation. When the pandemic hit, the Indian government ordered that all the orphans were to be sent home. They had a three-hour window to get this accomplished!
“You know, these kids are orphans… they don’t have anyone. But we had to load them up on a bus and send them back to their villages and towns. It was pretty scary. There was no foster care system set up to handle this, but that is just another testament to how God works. We were able to get in touch with widows in those villages. We agreed to fund everything that was needed (food, clothing, etc.) if they would take in these children – and it worked out!”
Now that children are able to get back into the orphanage, plans are moving forward to develop a new space that will house training facilities.
While Orphans in Asia encourages children to study and continue their education when they have that interest, some individuals prefer to study a trade. This new facility will enable the staff to offer hands-on training in various trades that will help develop teens into knowledgeable and capable adults.
Andrew tends to be the “face” of Orphans In Asia while Anna does a lot of work behind the scenes.
She puts it very simply:
“I generally just help Andrew do whatever needs to get done for Orphans in Asia”.
Which, or course, is a modest way of saying that she pitches in on all sorts of projects. On any given day you can find her making videos or presentations, organizing and sharing information, and generally making it possible for Andrew to focus on the fund-raising aspect of the non-profit.
In addition to their non-profit, the Smiths have renovated a guest suite on their property and have opened it up for ministry use. The space is welcoming and calm, decorated with photographs from their trips to India. More than just a space for visitors to spend the night, the Smiths pray it will be used by God to offer rest to those who need it most.
To learn more about Orphans in Asia please visit: https://www.orphansinasia.org/?fbclid=IwAR0-m8yV9a6ZEVQxd6pYNHvQCEfl5hGr_0ss2ZrxuOiYTdZXYXL1avnajQs
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