Zambia has 12 million people with as high as 87% claiming adherence to Christianity. While this is a very high number, there is much work to be done in Zambia for at least two reasons: 1) Around two million people or 17% of the population has HIV, resulting in over one million orphans, 19% of the children under 18 years old. This and many other reasons cause a high level of poverty in Zambia, 2) the church has many nominal adherents. The claim of 87% believers is too high if you only want to count those who have a solid understanding of their faith and active practice.
Our church’s approach is to touch on both of these issues in an especially needy area. In fact, the two issues are related. Because the churches are overwhelmed with orphan care, they find it difficult to address the issues of evangelism, discipleship and church planting. We are partnering with local believers in this effort plus other churches including Brookside Church in Omaha, NE.
In Serenje, a small community in northern Zambia, we set up a system to help relieve the stress on the many families who are caring for multiple orphans from the AIDS epidemic. Wanting to maintain the nurture that comes from living with the families, the Hope Children’s Center was established in 2008 to provide one healthy meal per day for 50-60 orphans, spiritual instruction, and 10 acres of fields to produce the food. We also help with food distribution in two nearby communities.
To address the expansion and development of the church, we partnered with other organizations inside and outside of Zambia to set up a pastoral training system where church leaders come into the Hope Center four times a year for three years for a full curriculum of Bible instruction. A few dozen pastors have already graduated from the program.
This month’s trip included another installment in the leadership training that taught Acts and Ephesians by TimD and JacobO. MarkM taught theology of the Gospel. Because Tim, Jacob, Mark, and SarahD stayed at the center, much of the teaching and interaction with the pastors was outside of the classroom. Jacob is also a dentist who saw all the orphans, pastors, and probably a few more! He pulled 79 teeth as well as other dental care. Sarah also assisted with the dentistry work and taught the children who came to the Hope Center.
We also had a board meeting where we changed the organization to relieve some of the stress caused by a ministry that was too large and complex for the current leadership structure. We now have two boards and leadership systems: 1) for the orphan care and fields, 2) for evangelism, church planting, and pastor development. We believe this will help both groups to focus and continue development. JohnA from Brookside and TimL from Cornerstone participated in these meetings.
The next project in January is for MarlinR, an agriculture specialist, to continue to help increase the productivity of the fields. Marlin has gone to Zambia multiple times and has seen a significant increase in the yields from the fields.
Continue to pray for the work in Zambia. For additional updates see: http://hopechildrenscenter.blogspot.com/