A couple of Sundays ago, to be specific on the 10th August 2008, I was invited to witness some of the fundraising activities Mercy Ministry of New Life Church, once in a while, does to gather funds for their orphan care ministry and for the widows in the church. New Life Church is one of the potential partners of FVI in Zambia.
It was a wonderful moment to witness this “jumbo sale” as they call it. The sale is made up of various items contributed by members and well wishers to this ministry of the church. Clothes, shoes, food stuffs and some bags of 50kg maize corn (Zambia’s staple food) go on sale. Members of the surrounding community came in large numbers to buy what they could from the sale.
It was not long before I noticed a long queue forming at the maize corn point of sale. The three bags of corn had to be measured into smaller tins in order to try and sale it to as many people as possible; Even then, it were not enough to satisfy the demand.
The reality of poverty could easily be seen at this sale. Clothes and shoes were not priorities for most people who came to buy; it was the food staffs and, especially, the corn. The corn is grinded into maize meal for nshima or tsaza. It is not an exaggeration when one says most of those families that queued for corn hardly ever manages three meals a day! And this could have just been their lucky day.
I later had an opportunity to hear stories from some of the beneficiaries of this Mercy Ministry program. Please, allow me to share with you their moving stories:
Meet Ackim Chanda; a ten year old young boy standing in front of the boy and girl in this picture. Ackim lost his father from HIV/AIDS related complications when he was still a little baby and does not even know him. He is the youngest in a family of three children. Both his siblings, thank God, are still in school. However, he can vividly narrate how difficult it has become for his mother to take them to school from the time his father died. He says sometimes he has no choice but, after school is over, help sale vegetables; carrying a heavy basket on his head along the streets and shouting “tomatoe!” to attract customers. The church has been of help, but the growing number of double orphans is causing a shift in their focus, and its boys like Ackim who may not be considered for future help. Ackim hopes to become a pastor when he completes school. Pray for his ambitions in life. He is such an innocent little boy with hopes, but not too sure how such may be achieved.
Meet Alexander Lubasi; standing in the picture with Naomi, behind Ackim. Alex is a talented young boy who has been affected by HIV/AIDS in his family, in the most unfortunate way. He has lost seven of his siblings. They were twelve children in the family, but now, only five are surviving. Most of the deaths happened in quick succession, one after another. Because of these misfortunes, the funeral expenses crippled the financial capacity of the family to the extent that Alex had to stop going to school for over two years. Fortunately, the church, through their orphan care program of Mercy Ministry stepped in and took him back to school. He is currently still in grade six even though he is fifteen years and should have been in grade eight or nine at his age. The boy is talented in drumming and he is actually the main “drums man” in the church choir. Pray for Alex’s perseverance in school as he is sometimes subjected to stigmatization owing to his age in relation to his classmates’ average age. However, he is a determined boy with full of life in his eyes.
Finally, meet Elizabeth Mulenga; another orphan aged fifteen years and is currently in grade eight. She is the fourth child in a family of five children. Two of her elder siblings have completed grade twelve but there is no money to fund their tertiary education and one was married off when she got pregnant before she could complete her grade twelve. The fears Naomi has are that she may be made to stop school as it is becoming more and more expensive for her mother, who works at an orphanage, to support her schooling. The church is at the moment doing all it can to keep her continue with school.
It is stories like these that compel us to share with you and ask for help so that children who might not otherwise have an opportunity to fulfill their dreams in life can achieve their God given potential. At this stage, the church in Zambia is doing what it can to help them grow in the fear of the Lord, but without resources to meet their real needs, the world out there will take advantage of their vulnerability. We can see how much pressure these children are being subjected to. Most of these will not experience the normal growth of a child because they have not known their mother or father in their lives.
As I take time to listen and talk to these children and widows alike; and also as I share about FVI, I can’t help but see their eyes full of expectations and hope for the future. The coming of FVI has brought hope among orphan care ministries in churches. Pastor Victor Mokola, from Evangelical Church in Zambia (ECZ) was just confessing to me that, for a long time, they have been praying for such a partnership. To many other pastors like him, partnering with FVI will surely make the burden, which is so fast becoming overwhelming in the church ministry in Zambia, less heavy.
If I may end with a quote from Erwin W. Lutzer’s words: “Regardless of how we define Christ’s separation from the world, one fact is clear, he did not separate himself from human beings and their needs. Nor did he limit his concern to the spiritual part of man’s personality”. Help FVI to help orphans in Africa; your contribution will be a blessing words cannot express.
I remain your fellow servant in Christ,