Friends - This weekend and last week, I worked hard with our Program Director in Zimbabwe, as well as our network of partners across Zim to determine how we can grow in the midst of the challenges in Zimbabwe.
This blog post is a summary of that plan. It is important to understand that these plans have been in the works for a long time and are simply evolving with the increasing pressures on churches caring for orphans, as well as our changing dynamics regarding on the ground operations.
Most importantly, these dreams that we are pleased to share with you come from the dreams of local pastors in Zimbabwe, as well as leaders from the Theological College of Zimbabwe. We now invite you to dream with all of us, as we seek to "demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities."
Essentially - here's our plan that we are acting on right now:
1. We partner with the Theological College of Zimbabwe to build the leadership capacity of willing pastors by implementing the following:
- Develop an Orphan Care & HIV/AIDS Leadership Institute that will help pastors learn about orphan care, grow their knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and share with each other in their respective successes & failures as church leaders
- Identify 12 TCZ graduates each year that are doing orphan care work in their local churches, so as to help these pastors develop Local Orphan Care Plans.
2. We fund 3 new Local Orphan Care Plans every quarter; 12/year
- By working through local churches led by TCZ graduates, we have a network of people that have solid Biblical training, as well as experience in holistic care. This allows us to provide direct care, as kids need it, by church leaders that the orphans & communities trust.
- These Local Orphan Care Plans are locally developed, locally run plans for how the local church & community plan to continue to grow their ministries to orphans. They include what they are already doing, as well as gaps in what is happening now. They are holistic in nature, covering food, water, skills training, etc to help make sure that orphans are being cared for and communities are being equipped to meet the long term needs of these special children.
- They will range in individual costs of between $1,000/year and $6,000/year, based on experience.
3. Surround pastors with the tools and resources they need to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities, without taking the wind out of their sails
- In addition to funds for their projects, we also now connecting them with a group called Farming God's Way, connecting them to buy food in groups to reduce costs, and helping communities be involved in the long-term sustainable options (such as helping inject a small bit of capital to help a church build a preschool, one of our current projects)
- All of the projects are truly theirs - from start to finish; even if it takes longer
- Quote: "In 20 years of ministry and working with Americans in Zimbabwe, I have never been asked my opinion until Forgotten Voices asked me what I think should happen" ~ Local Pastor that we partner with in Zimbabwe
4. We encourage these pastors that we interface with to unite, across denominations so Forgotten Voices can help build, not divide, the local church in Zimbabwe
- We help our leadership partners get together twice a year for a semi-annual Orphan Care Leadership Retreat. This helps them get away from the pressures of the immediate to spend time with the Lord, gain insights from other church leaders, share their failures & successes. Together, these leaders learn and walk away refreshed with new friends to learn from.
- Forgotten Voices is also investing in a group called the Christian Leadership Resource Centre, an institution that pastors can join in Zim to borrow books, share info on orphan care, HIV/AIDS, and community based ministry. It encourages communication across denominations to address divides in the church that are sometimes plaguing success.
5. Invest in local leadership infrastructure by hiring local staff to expand our outreach to more churches, rather than hire a missionary from states
- Our whole mission is built around ministering to local people, local projects leading orphan care efforts through the local church in Africa. We value the talent that our seminary partners produce, as well as the voices of local people that are too often ignored.
- Forgotten Voices has hired 2 people in Zimbabwe to help administer, evaluate, and grow our operations through the church. One is a leader of a Christian church in Zimbabwe, who has been doing orphan care for over a decade, and the other is a young leader, who has volunteered in managing orphan care for a Local Orphan Care Plan reaching 450 orphans across 5 churches.
- By hiring local people to serve year round, Ryan and the Forgotten Voices team are able to get reliable results 24/7 across the wide-range of projects, rather than relay on quarterly trips or reports. This allows us to respond by the hour, rather than most non-profits in Zimbabwe that only are able to adjust on the local level annually.
In total - we are now ministering to 10 projects in Zimbabwe that reach 3,200 AIDS orphans across 139 churches and schools. Please join me in praising God for this growth. However, 1,000 kids become orphaned every day in Zimbabwe because of AIDS and other illnesses. We needed to work with local people in Zim to determine how to grow. This structure, as I have set out above, is a reflection of that vision.
Through these adjustments and additions, our team in Africa hopes to be able to reach over 10,000 kids by 2010. We are praising God with you for all that has been done, and the new challenges before us.
To do all these things - we need your help. Please consider giving. Most of the things we are dreaming about are new plans to help us more effectively meet the changing needs of churches in Africa.
This is where our mission of "demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities" hits the ground.
Consider joining us and equipping local voices working hard to meet the needs of AIDS orphans.
Above all - please continue praying with us - that we would have wisdom, faith, patience, and love for the people impacted by HIV/AIDS. This is tough work for all involved. Your prayers are both appreciated and needed as we chart new waters and continue remaining true to our calling, amidst so many challenges & doubts.
All the best,
Fibion (Program Director - Zimbabwe)
Horace (Orphan Care - Zimbabwe)