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Entries in Zimbabwe (11)

Brandon's Story: "God will help me with my studies"

How do One Child Matters’ programs meet the needs of children in the developing world? How can sponsorship make a difference in a child’s life? Let’s ask Brandon, an 11-year-old boy who lives with his aunt in the dusty suburb of QueensPark in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

Brandon’s mother passed away when he was still very young, and he barely remembers her. After his mother died, Brandon’s father left him in the rural area with his grandmother, who toiled very hard each day just to eke out a living. Brandon never knew his father. One of the things that he regrets is growing up without knowing the love of his father or mother.

Life in the village was very hard and difficult for Brandon. “Looking back,” he said, "I realize that I had started to see myself as someone who would never amount to anything.” This was especially true when his grandmother fell sick; it was now proving very difficult for him to concentrate on his studies. He always had to rush home to do the chores and help his grandmother. “I was slowly resigning myself to a fate of a life of herding cows.”

Two years ago his granny became too sick to take care of him. She brought him to town to live with his aunt, a widow with children of her own and no job. The aunt has two grown up children who are living in neighboring South Africa who occasionally send her a few groceries to feed the children. Most of the time, however, she has to sell vegetables to support the kids.

Just over a year ago, Brandon was registered in the new child development center that opened in his community. He gets to have a hot meal served by loving volunteers that tell him about the love of God and remind him that he has a Father in Heaven who loves him. He has started attending church with his aunty.

Brandon is now one of the young leaders at the Child Development Center who help the facilitators and volunteers when they serve porridge and do other activities. Serving at the Child Development Center is important to him. Brandon shares, “God loves people that serve others. This is just the beginning!”

The center’s director is very proud of the progress that Brandon has made. “Brandon can’t wait to serve others during break time,” she says. “He is always the first to volunteer. In fact, he is the only leader that is not a prefect [an older student leader]. We asked him to be one of the leaders after recognizing his servant heart.”

With the help of the center, Brandon now enjoys going to school again. “I am learning so hard” he says, “because I know I am an orphan. But I know God will help me with my studies especially if I work hard.” He now believes that one day he will achieve something and make his aunty and grandmother proud.

Thank you for providing new opportunities for children like Brandon. We praise God for the staff He has raised up to love on children and encourage them to become strong young adults and role models for younger children. We can’t wait to see how Brandon continues to serve at his center and in his community, and we pray that he and other children in the program become the leaders Zimbabwe and other countries need to break the cycle of poverty forever!


Think You Can Do It? 

Change the world by Monday.

Seems like one of those big, hairy, audacious goals. How in the world could we claim that it’s possible?

Because we’ve seen it happen, again and again.

Take Zimbabwe, for example. There were churches in Bulawayo trying to serve the children in their community. Their limited resources couldn't go far enough when those kids faced challenges like this:

It’s estimated that two-thirds of children in Zimbabwe are in the care of an older sibling or relative. The average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is less than 52 years, one of the worst in the world. One in seven people in Zimbabwe live with HIV/AIDS, the 5th highest rate in the world. Pastor Wilfred in Bulawayo estimated that in the last three years, he had buried more than 600 people.

How do you change that world by Monday?

You step up and step in. That’s what Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, did. Members of their congregation stepped forward, and in one Sunday, hundreds of kids were sponsored.

Imagine what that Monday was like, when the staff could tell the children in their programs, “You are sponsored! There’s someone halfway around the world who loves you and cares for you and wants the best for you!”

Bayside Christian Church in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, also joined in partnership, and soon the love of Christ became so much more tangible for more than 400 kids in Zimbabwe.

On a Sunday, the love of Christ compelled people to stand up for a child in poverty, and on a Monday, the world is forever changed for that child. The difficult life circumstances can be reinterpreted through this new lens: someone cares for me. I matter to someone one the other side of the world and they keep saying I matter to God. Could it be true?

Change in such tender hearts can happen in an instant, because your prayers are instant. Your support becomes a constant while the messages of the world less insistent and God less distant.

Sponsorship – a new kind of partnership – is that powerful. It can change the world by Monday.

Praising God For The Helpers

The news today is so troubling. After the events in Boston, our hearts are shaken, and our prayers go out to those affected.

We are encouraged by a quotation we're seeing all over social media, something attributed to Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."

We, too, are comforted, because we partner with so many helpers.

We partner with thousands of individual sponsors, intent on changing the life of a child for eternity.

We partner with churches large and small, compelled to connect with a community across the world to help them invest in their children and break the cycle of poverty for generations.

We partner with churches in 15 developing countries, because they obey the command of Jesus when He said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14).

We partner to help remove the hindrances, to bring children to Jesus. And we have seen powerful partnerships forming in Zimbabwe: partnerships with Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and Bayside Community Church with campuses in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. They along with Celebration Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and our ministry friends Children's Cup have helped us meet the needs of more 1500 Zimbabwean children.

Today, we praise God for the helpers, and for the original Helper who came down to meet us in our darkest moments.

How You Are Fighting HIV/AIDS 

Did you know you are a fighter in the battle against HIV/AIDS? Here's how we -- because of your help -- are moving to address the needs of children in countries devastated by this disease.

Click to read more ...

Big Thanks To Bayside!

Last week was eventful for two big reasons: we officially became One Child Matters, and we watched God raise up a powerful church to partner with us in Zimbabwe.

Bayside Community Church, which has campuses in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, is going to help us change the lives of more than 500 children in Cowdry Park, a community in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Last April, Pastors Randy and Amy Bezet traveled to Zimbabwe to see the challenges that children in Bulawayo face, and they planned an event at Bayside so that their church members would have a chance to become personally involved in the fight against poverty.

The lives of more than 500 children will be changed because of the commitments made last Sunday. What an incredible witness to God's heart for children!

We can't wait to see what God will do with this amazing ministry. We are so thankful to partner with Bayside and with all of our partners who are chosing to bring hope, truth, life, love, and mercy to children all over the world!

Country Prayer Requests

Each week, we set aside time as a staff to pray through prayer requests we’ve received from you and our partners overseas. It is so important to support those who work directly with your sponsored child.

Here are some of the requests we've been praying for this week and into the next:

ETHIOPIA: The cost of living in Ethiopia continues to rise, putting strain on the parents of children registered in our programs as well as project staff. Our Ethiopian staff has such a huge heart for the children, but they are burdened by their own needs as well. Please pray with us for provision and that our staff can find favor at home, in the marketplace, and in their communities to help them make the most of their resources.

Also, a mission trip with radio listeners from The House FM in Oklahoma and WCLN in North Carolina will leave for Ethiopia on September 13. They will help build a restroom and shower facility at one of the projects to address pressing public sanitation and health issues. They’re also going to do Vacation Bible School with the kids. It’s going to be a powerful trip, please pray with us that God will do much in them and through them.

KENYA: A Women’s Circle of Caring team is also leaving on September 13th for their final trip to the Emarti Maasai people. They have many projects and programs for the children and their mothers. A special message will be given – please pray for open ears and hearts.

CAMBODIA: A serious and mysterious illness is striking children in Cambodia; several children have died but the cause of this sickness has yet to be determined. We praise God that none of the children in our programs have fallen ill, but we must continue to pray protection over them and for the staff as they stay vigilant. Please also pray that the government and health care workers can find the cause of this to address it before more children are sickened or lost to this disease. 

HAITI: Our staff asks for prayers for the parents to stay involved in the development of their children. As parents come to understand the benefit and value of the program, the children attend more consistently.

ZIMBABWE: So many communities need help. Please pray for discernment for the country staff and that God continues to raise up sponsors who can help them minister in powerful ways.

HONDURAS: Gangs are very active in several of the communities we serve. Please pray for the safety of our staff and that children in our programs find sanctuary at the centers. Siblings and parents can also use prayer that they stay out of reach of the gangs and provide positive, stable role models for the kids.

Thank you, as always, for joining us in prayer for the sake of the kids.


Staff In Need Of Urgent Prayer

Please pray for our ministry partners and friends, Charlotte and Mitch Hildebrant, who oversee our child development centers in Swaziland.

We rarely request prayer for individual staff members, but this is an exceptional case. Our dear friends and partners in ministry, Mitch and Charlotte Hildebrant, need your prayers.

Mitch and Charlotte are the directors for Children’s Cup – Africa, our partner in Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. (Before that, they worked with One Child Matters and Bethesda Christian Broadcasting!)

UPDATE: Mitch has had a second abdominal surgery and is recovering well. Praise the Lord, he has not needed another chest tube. We are praying for cotinued healing. More updates in the prayer requests below.

In the middle of March, Mitch went to the hospital in Swaziland with appendicitis. During the appendectomy, the surgeon discovered a (thankfully benign) tumor in his intestines. Since then, however, Mitch has had serious complications, including pneumonia, dehydration, and several severe infections. (You can read more about that here.)

He was eventually transferring to a hospital in South Africa with better medical resources, but doctors are still struggling to address these pressing health issues, and they face several more weeks of treatment and recovery.

Our heart aches for our friends, because we know their hearts long to be on the field ministering to the kids in Swaziland.

We also know we have some serious prayer warriors in the Mission of Mercy family (after all, the last time we asked for prayer, God stalled a major cyclone and sent it away from southern Africa)!

Please join us in praying for Mitch and Charlotte. Here are a few specifics:

  • Please pray against a second intestinal leak, which could lead to major infections and another surgery. Also pray that Mitch’s wound from the first surgery would heal supernaturally fast.
    UPDATE: There was a second leak and a second surgery the 3rd week in May. Thankfully Mitch has responded well and it looks like his intestines are functioning. We are praying this will be the last major surgery and he can move on to healing from here!
  • Please pray for minimal pain during dressing changes, that his oxygen levels will be high and his blood pressure low. Please pray against the multiple infections, especially those which have settled in his lungs.
    UPDATE: This is still an accurate request. Keep praying against infection!
  • Please pray against the anxiety this situation naturally produces in Mitch and Char, and in their families who are so far from them during this scary time. Please pray for peace and solid rest for Mitch and Charlotte. Please also pray for the Children’s Cup staff who continue to serve the children in One Child Matters projects.
    UPDATE: Mitch's mother is now in South Africa with Mitch and Char, praise God. Please continue praying against anxiety, which is affecting Mitch's breathing. Please continue to lift up the Children's Cup staff as they are short-handed and still trying to serve the children faithfully.

Friends, we are grateful for your partnership in prayer and for the children. We trust that the Lord, who made healing a major focus of His ministry on earth, will continue to provide for Mitch and Charlotte.

Same Country: New Prayer Request

Cyclone Funso's projected path as of 5pm January 24th may avoid areas our programs serve. Image courtesy of the Pacific Disaster Center's Global Hazard Atlas.

UPDATE: Cyclone Funso's path is taking it out to sea. Praise God with us that our friends in Mozambique and Swaziland were spared more storms.

When it rains, it pours. And that’s definitely happening in Mozambique and Swaziland. Less than a week after Tropical Storm Dando made landfall and ruined both church buildings and homes in the communities we serve, now Cyclone Funso is threatening.

Today it strengthened to a Category 4 storm with winds over 130 mph. Thankfully, it seems to be drifting along the Mozambique Channel and has not veered inland.

We are praying Cyclone Funso continues on its projected path and skirts past Mozambique and Swaziland. Still, bands of intense storms are raking across southern Africa. Even Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is getting large amounts of rain. (You can see the general location of our projects in the white dots on the image above.)

As the ground is already saturated from Tropical Storm Dando, the aftereffects of Funso can still cause major damage. Please join us in praying for the safety of the children and staff in Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, especially those who may be staying under damaged roofs.

The weather reports show another round of storms brewing behind Cyclone Funso -- please pray with us that those storms also miss these beleagured countries. But if they don't, we pray that God will be making a way for those in the storm's path to find shelter and hope. And may His church continue to move to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world.

You can help Mission of Mercy respond to crises like cyclones and floods with a donation to the Children’s Crisis Fund. In the past, funds have been used to rebuild homes, provide medical treatment, and allow the staff to meet the most pressing needs in a community. Thank you for your continued support of our friends and the children they serve!

Christmas Wishes In Every Language

In the coming weeks you should receive a Christmas card from your sponsored child, and on it will be Christmas wishes in their own hand. We love this time of year because you can see the anticipation of Christmas in the children's heartfelt wishes. 

But very few of the children in our programs speak English -- so what do their Christmas wishes look like?

In most of the countries in which we work, the language spoken does not use a Latin or Roman alphabet such as what we use in English or what many of the countries in Africa or Central America use above. 

Yet the result is just as beautiful. Several countries, such as the Philippines and India, have regions that use different languages or dialects, which are represented below.

And then there's the Middle East, where Christ and the Christmas season was born. What wonderful wishes!

It's a bit early to wish you a Merry Christmas, but we can't help getting in the spirit! 

Zimbabwe: Lighting The Fire

When Jack Eans, Mission of Mercy's Vice President of International Child Ministries, traveled to Zimbabwe to train the new project staff, God spoke to him in a surprising way.

Click to read more ...

Why Zimbabwe?

There are so many countries in the world that could use our help...

So how did Mission of Mercy end up in Zimbabwe?

We followed God's lead and found the children of Zimbabwe to be beautiful, hopeful, courageous children. But the threats to their future are very real.

The statistics show the challenges the children face, but do they tell the full story?

Click to read more ...