Hope for the Orphan and Vulnerable Children

DSC_87651 I just returned from the USA where my wife and I and our two boys spent the past ten months on sabbatical.  We were situated in New Haven Connecticut at the Overseas Ministries Study Center. We were given the opportunity to engage with scholars such as Andrew Walls, Jonathan Bonk, Tienou Tite  and Lamin Sannah on African Christianity. We also heard from Edith Blumhofer  from Wheeaton College, on Christianity in the USA.  The highlight of our break was visiting churches and friends throughout the USA to share about the church in Zambia, Jubilee Centre and our family.  Most touching, was the concern people showed for the welfare of OVC’s throughout the world. Up to 95% of the homes we visited or people we spoke to are currently sponsoring a child through World Vision, Compassion International, Jubilee Centre or similar organizations.

During one of our visits we were given the June edition 2013 of Christianity Today which was dedicated to child sponsorship work. The cover story focused on the ministry of Compassion International that works with 1.3 million sponsor children. When asked the reason for the tremendous success of their OVC programs, outgoing President of Compassion, Wes Stafford said “Try Hope.” We know what Wes is talking about. Many OVCs in our program have very low self-esteem, low aspiration and are generally without much hope. However, through the local church they are grafted into AWANA or It Takes Courage programs and as they embrace Christ as Lord they begin to dream of a better future as they believe the scripture, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”

At one of our stop in the State of Georgia we visited the office of an accountant who sponsored a young girl for seven years until she completed her high school education.  We told him that this girl was now pursuing a law diploma. He responded, “If $25 per month can give such hope can I have two more children?” When we returned to our room to pray about the next two orphans who will receive his support my wife’s pray was simply, “God you amaze me.” Indeed God is amazing us as we continue to see children who once thought of themselves as worthless being redeemed by the Gospel to understand the unique ways God has gifted them to be agents of transformation in their communities.

Zambia has more than 1.1 million orphans, most of whom are vulnerable.  For most of these children their hope lies in a local church that understands its call to care for the spiritual, physical, social, intellectual and business development needs of the poor. The sponsors we visited in the USA read the same Bible we do where Jesus invites us all to care for the poor (Matt. 25:31-46). As the pastor of a well resourced African church can you find 50% of your members who sponsor children that are not their relatives? Can you find 5%? As the church grows, may we be a church that trains people to be generous with their resources, even beyond the walls of their local church, even to children whom they do not know and have never seen. In this way we will be found to be a church that really gives hope to orphans.

Lawrence Temfwe