Family caring for 17 children inspires church to launch orphan ministry
Poverty and disease, especially AIDS, have created thousands of orphans across the African continent. Recent economic and political crises in Zimbabwe have compounded the problem, according to UNICEF, which estimates that the country has the highest number of orphans per capita in the world. One of every five children in Zimbabwe is an orphan, and a child dies every 15 minutes from AIDS, according to UNICEF.
Van Zant and Dr. Steve Lemons saw the need firsthand during a 2006 trip to Zimbabwe with other members of the East Point church. Workers with Nhowe Mission introduced the men to the Mahundas and their expanded family.
The church members bought blankets for the children, but knew that they needed to do more, Lemons said.
Washington Mhlanga, the administrator of East Point’s work in Zimbabwe, and several Zimbabwean preachers, youth ministers and church members identified orphans for the program and started working with schools to enroll them.
Members of East Point are sponsoring about 115 children, paying about $35 per month to cover their tuition, Lemons said. Some of the children are attending Nhowe Mission. Others are enrolled in government-run schools. Their U.S. sponsors also send the children care packages.
Zimbabwean church members have received requests to help hundreds of additional children, Lemons said, and the East Point church is launching a Web site to allow church members across the nation to help.
“We now have approximately 2,000 more children that are needing sponsors,” Lemons said. “As sponsors are found, we will continue to support more children.”
In addition to meeting the orphans’ material and education needs, workers with the new program are going into Zimbabwean schools to teach children about Christ, Lemons said.
“We know that these children are very receptive to God’s word,” Lemons said.
That was the case with the Mahundas. Preachers working with the orphan program studied the Bible with the family and recently baptized the generous parents — and several of their adopted children.
FOR MORE INFORMATION see www.eastpointmissions.org.