Thursday, May 28, 2009
This one right hit home with me. I'm preparing to go to Africa June 10-July 1 (more on this trip in the next week -- a lot more, actually). In the midst of the busyness that is trip planning and all the work that needs to get done before I can go wheels up to Africa, I sometimes cut down on the core part of what makes me me. My relationship with the Lord. I'm nothing apart from Christ.
So - Free style with Drew and check out his blog post here: http://freestyletheology.wordpress.com
Happy slowing down to spend time with our Lord. I promise it will be worth it.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Dear friends, Today's post is a good one. Thanks to your generous support, as well as the tireless efforts of our partners in Africa, we are pleased to inform you of the below press release we sent out to local newspapers in PA. Feel free to let me know if other papers should know about this. Keep up the good work!
The need for the mission of Forgotten Voices has never been greater, as the rise of AIDS orphans continues to climb and the churches in Africa are being asked to do more and more, with less and less. Continue joining us in telling friends about the ministry you are part of and I'm so thankful for each of you.
After reading this blog post, please take some time to read through the summary and/or listen to the radio program. Hudson did some fantastic research on giving.
Again, my sincere thanks on behalf of our partners in Zimbabwe & Zambia.
All the best,
Click here to read/listen to more on Hudson Institute's Index of Global Philanthropy & Remittances:
To listen to a radio interview, referenced below, you can do so here (Forgotten Voices is around the 23 minute mark for 40 seconds, but the whole interview is really informative, beginning at minute 20):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ryan Keith, President
717.649.0667 (cell phone)
Local Organization, Forgotten Voices, Recognized for Excellence by Hudson Institute’s esteemed Index of Global Philanthropy
MECHANICSBURG, PA (May 21, 2009) – The Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Philanthropy recently highlighted Forgotten Voices in Hudson’s widely regarded annual Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances for being a model in global philanthropy. Forgotten Voices is a Mechanicsburg, PA based 501c3 non-profit organization that equips a network of local churches and communities in Zimbabwe and Zambia to care for AIDS orphans with locally developed action plans for orphan care. Hudson described Forgotten Voices in the Executive Summary: “By working with local leaders and tapping a network of dedicated volunteers, Forgotten Voices is helping to change the lives of vulnerable children in Africa and the communities that nurture them.” Hudson distributes the Index to leaders around the world as examples in approaches to philanthropy.
Within the 88 page report, Hudson highlighted three Christian organizations in the USA to demonstrate the $8.6 billion in giving from religious organizations. The three Hudson highlighted were Saddleback Church’s PEACE Plan, led by Rev. Rick Warren, Forgotten Voices, and Engineering Ministries International.
Of the recognition by Hudson, Ryan Keith, Forgotten Voices’ President, said, “Hudson’s recognition of our young organization is a testament to our partners in Zimbabwe and Zambia, who are working hard every day to make dollars donated go far. At the end of the day, Forgotten Voices is simply about connecting people in the USA with a wide network of willing, capable, and loving people in southern Africa who care every day for kids that are not their own, but love them as if they are. Our story is theirs and I’m thankful Hudson is encouraging others to consider taking the same approach of listening and supporting the voices of local people.”
Heidi Metcalf, Deputy Director at Hudson, recently gave an interview about the Index on the Moody News Network’s Prime Time America show, a nationally syndicated radio show to 350 stations around the USA. Metcalf said, “Forgotten Voices represents an enormous network of U.S. based volunteers and African volunteers, with over 1,200 people in Zimbabwe volunteering, to provide orphan care to AIDS orphans (in Africa).”
Said Keith, “The real story here is that leaders in Africa are not only willing to help, but are leading every day now. Every mother wants to provide for her own child, but sometimes that’s not possible with AIDS. Where it’s not, we are helping equip church leaders and community members that willingly protect the kids of these dying parents. They are the real heroes. I’m grateful to have the best job in the world thanks to all the people that continue to invest in advancing our mission. All the recognition in the world does not come close to the joy we have knowing we are helping protect the hopes and dreams of vulnerable kids by equipping local people who are doing the hard part by saying yes.”
Currently, inflation in Zimbabwe is estimated to be immeasurable by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and unemployment is over 80%. Droughts over the past 2 years promise that over half of the country’s people won’t have enough to eat once a day or afford it. Shelves are often barren under price controls and people are experiencing heavy pressure to make ends meet with high inflation and black market trading. 500 people die everyday in Zimbabwe because of AIDS related illnesses in these economic conditions and an estimated 1,000 kids become orphaned each day. The number of orphans is expected to almost double from 1.3 million in 2005 to 2.0 million by the end of 2009, representing 20% of the total population of the country.
Hudson Institute is a nonpartisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom. More information on the Index, including online copies, can be found on Hudson’s homepage at http://www.Hudson.org.
Forgotten Voices International is 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. Administratively led by 1 full-time staff member and seven 20-something volunteer leaders in the Central PA area, Forgotten Voices’ projects are empowering orphans with sustainable solutions to some of their greatest challenges. School fees, counseling, food, and skills training are just some of the ways that Forgotten Voices is raising hope and independence for these forgotten orphans in some of the world’s most forgotten places. Currently, Forgotten Voices has projects in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Its partnerships now serve over 4,000 orphans across over 160 local church projects in Africa.
For more information on Forgotten Voices International or to learn how to get involved, please contact Ryan Keith at 717.506.0633 (office) or email at Ryan@ForgottenVoices.org. You may also visit www.ForgottenVoices.org.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
However, today I have a rather touching story about four young children from one family, that has already experienced three deaths before they could even celebrate their tenth birthdays. It is hard to imagine these children no longer have a father or mother to fend for their needs. It is such a tragedy at such a tender age. Their emotional pain and pressure they are passing through is hard to imagine, not mentioning the social problems that they now face with no one to call dad or mum in their life. Their childhood has been shortened and they have to grow up quickly enough to manage their own lives if survival is to be a reality in their lives.
Meet Dorcas, (7) and her cousins; 10 years old Mary, and her twin siblings; 8 years old Joseph and Moses. I found it difficult to hold my tears when they shared their story; especially because Mary could not hold hers as she narrated what happened. I decided to stop the interview and ask the pastor to tell me what he knows about their situation. It was a very sad and painful situation for me.
It is alleged that the three, Mary and the twin boys lost both their parents within a year of each other and were later picked up to stay with their aunt, the mother to Dorcas, who by then was a widow. Dorcas' mother also died shortly after they came into her house causing another pain of suffering to these kids. All these deaths were HIV/AIDS related.
The children are currently living with their grandmother, too old to help them pull through this tender stage of their life. They are living in a three roomed mud house in one of the shanty compounds of Ndola. Dorcas is in grade 1, Mary in grade 4 and the twins are in grade 3. Pastor Lameck Mugala, through his church has been doing a great job in helping these children manage their situation as they mingle with other kids during the feeding program. “It has not been easy”, the pastor says; He told me that in fact this old lady they call granny, is not their real granny. She was related to Dorcas' late step father. Dorcas' late mother was a sister to the other three kids' mother, but Dorcas' father is nowhere to be seen. He divorced her mother when she was still very young and later her mother got married to another man whose mother is the granny they live with now. You see how complicated their situation is. This also shows how much poverty has disintegrated the extended family systems, especially here in the urban set up. It's hard to imagine this happening to little children like these.
However, the church has been their hope ever since their situation was brought to the pastor's attention. They receive assistance from the church for most of their requirements. They have not only been receiving material support, but they have also been helped spiritually as they attend the children's Bible class during the feeding programs. The kids love their Lord and I hope they will grow to be responsible citizen.
This is where the ministry of Forgotten Voices has indeed been a God sent ministry in this part of Africa. It has helped pastors like Lameck to manage their God given calling in ministering to the poor and needy in their communities. Your contributions, through Forgotten Voices' ministries here in Zambia has lightened their burden, giving us hope for a better future in the lives of these and such other children. Forgotten Voices International appreciates your continued support. We understand the world economical situation is not favourable these days, but we do realize that, the God who called us to this ministry transcends such economical circumstances of the world and as such our hope lies in the LORD we serve. He is in control and will make a way were there seems to be no way.
May the Lord give you grace to continue this noble ministry among the poor in the world. As Ryan normally says, “you have chosen to say yes, even when the most appropriate answer would have been no” Thank you so much, we appreciate. The Lord loves the poor and his heart is always with them (Psalm 140:12); May your prayer always be: “Love them Lord, through me!”
Your fellow servant in the Lord,