FOOD, WATER AND GOSPEL FOR AFRICAN ORPHANS
Life's Outreach International is an organization committed to the commission of Jesus Christ to take the gospel to all nations. LIFE believes that Christ intended for us to demonstrate His love as well as proclaim it. LIFE has several ministries worldwide that are actively demonstrating the love of God.
LIFE's Mission Feeding ministry is taking much needed food to areas on the continent of Africa where war, famine, drought and poverty have taken their toll on the people. Food factories in Mozambique and Angola are providing enough food to feed more than 250,000 starving children, mothers, elderly people, and people with disabilities each month.
LIFE's Water For LIFE outreach utilizes a portable drilling rig to dig wells up to 1,000 feet deep in even the hardest to reach areas of Africa to provide much needed clean drinking water to communities.
LIFE TODAY is an innovative Christian television broadcast that is sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people all over the United States, Canada and Australia. LIFE TODAY not only ministers to people directly, but it presents the other outreaches of LIFE so that people may take part in our ministry and vision.
LIFE Outreach conducts evangelistic campaigns that attract thousands of people to hear the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. LIFE also has ministries that utilize video projectors and portable DVD players to share the life of Christ through film and video as well as to train church leaders and new believers in biblical values.
LIFE Centers in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America are lighthouses of the love of Christ to people in need. LIFE Centers care for children displaced by war in their countries. LIFE Centers also serve as centers for training and equipping new believers to join in the effort to spread the gospel and display the love of Jesus Christ to those in need.
At LIFE, we believe that we are fulfilling Christ's words in Matthew 25:35-40 by being His hands and feet. Millions of hurting, desperate people all over the world have experienced the compassion and provision of Jesus Christ through various humanitarian relief programs sponsored by LIFE Outreach International.
Thousands of people write or call LIFE Outreach International in the course of a year to seek spiritual help, order products or ask questions about the ministry. Whatever their purpose in contacting the ministry, many use the opportunity to comment on James and Betty Robison, personally. In doing so, the phrase they most often use is: "They are just so real." If you knew them, you would say that's an accurate observation. They are, indeed, real . . . just what they appear to be, with no embellishment or pretense.
James is real in his personal relationship with the Lord, in his ministry calling, in his deep compassion for hurting people, for people in desperate physical need, for people who, above all, need a soul-saving touch from God. And he is real in the zeal he shows for seeking God's guidance and provision in reaching them for Christ.
James is also real in his personal life. He is real in his husband-wife relationship with Betty. He loves her, appreciates her and tells her about it many times a day-not just when the cameras are on them while they are taping LIFE Today shows. James is real as a father and grandfather. Ask any of his and Betty's three happily married children, all raising families in fine Christian homes.
As a grandfather, James without question is real. If anyone doubts it, just let them try to get away from him during a chance meeting without being shown pictures of his 11 grandchildren.
Betty, who co-hosts the LIFE Today telecasts with James, also is precisely what she seems. She brings to the set a quiet spirit and insights of a depth that surprises some people. Those qualities are not easily counterfeited. In her, they are real. They are the effortless overflow from a diligently sought and jealously guarded intimacy with her heavenly Father.
Betty is real as a wife to James. Married to and in ministry with him for over 40 years, she has stood by him through many trials. She has been his friend and encourager in the myriad adversities related to their place in the limelight of a large public ministry.
James and Betty do not pursue a flamboyant lifestyle. They know how to be fulfilled through the little things of life. To them, Christianity is not about religion but relationships-loving God first, and then loving others as yourself. This has set them free to enjoy life with each other and their many friends outside the family circle.
They believe Christians should enjoy their life in Christ -- and they do!
Visit the website: LIFE TODAY
Children WalkTo School Barefoot In Ethiopia
16-YEARS-OLD ORPHAN MIRIAM IS HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD
In a one-room hut with a torn blanket for a door, Miriam, 16, lives with her six younger siblings. Miriam welcomes us into their home as her half-dressed brothers play ‘tsoro’, a local version of chequers, in the shade of the hut, while her sisters help with the cooking. A bitter wind blows dust into their plates and eyes.
Two hours east of Zimbabwe’s capital, Miriam and her brothers and sisters live at the heart of Buhera, where maize is burnt dry and HIV decimates communities. Although just a teenager, Miriam is head of her household. Her father died in 1998, and her mother four years later. “I have just travelled more than four kilometres in search of water,” she says. “Now it is time for cooking, bathing and cleaning.”
Enforced parenthood is an unreasonable burden to place on a teenager, yet one that is repeated with terrifying regularity across Zimbabwe. UNICEF estimates that 100,000 Zimbabwean children live in child-headed households like Miriam’s.
HIV and AIDS have dramatically increased children’s vulnerability in recent years, to the point where Zimbabwe now has the highest percentage of orphaned children in the world. However, through the joint financial efforts of the UK Department for International Development, New Zealand AID, the Swedish International Development Agency and the German Government, Miriam and thousands like her will soon get essential assistance.
The donor assistance, in the form of a Program of Support announced last week, means that Zimbabwe can scale up its National Action Plan for orphans and vulnerable children to boost existing work and improve their living conditions.
Under an agreement reached by UNICEF, the government and 21 non-governmental organizations on 15 February, funds from the Program of Support will go towards:
* Increased school enrolment of orphans and vulnerable children.
* Family and community support.
* School nutrition programs.
* Increased registration of children with birth certificates.
* Improved access to food, health services, and water and sanitation.
* Reducing the number of children living outside a family environment.
* Preventing the physical abuse of orphans.
The program – backed by more than $70 million from donors over five years – enables the 21 NGOs to fund and support a further 150 community-based organizations.
“The pressures on Zimbabweans are overwhelming,” says UNICEF’s Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Festo Kavishe. “Thousands of Zimbabweans die from HIV-related illnesses every week, and over 1 million children have been orphaned.
“Anyone who has seen the hardships of these orphans and the resolve and determination of struggling Zimbabweans to assist them must be moved to help. We have a team of donors reaching out to orphans across the country. I hope others will now join us.”
CATHOLIC NEAR EAST WELFARE PROGRAM AT WORK IN AFRICA
Amidst the upheavals and challenges of the modern world, CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) has been a lifeline for those in need throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe for more than 75 years.
Founded in 1926 by POPE PIUS XI [Pictured] CNEWA’s mandate is:
* to support the pastoral mission and institutions of the Eastern Catholic churches.
* to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need without regard to nationality or creed.
* to promote Christian unity and interreligious understanding and collaboration.
* to educate people in the West about the history, cultures, peoples and churches of the East.
CNEWA does not have inflexible priorities – they are set based upon time, place and urgency of need. We do not compete; if other agencies are doing a good work, we leave it to them. CNEWA addresses those needs that would otherwise “fall through the cracks,” enabling the power of love to reach men, women and children in need.
From training priests to serve the people of God in India to providing clean water systems to war-damaged villages in Lebanon – from providing job opportunities to unemployed Palestinians to caring for orphaned children in Ethiopia – from providing health care to the poor in Iraq to awarding scholarships for Orthodox priests to study in Catholic universities in Rome, CNEWA connects generous North Americans with those in need living in some of the remotest parts of the world.
The agency publishes a bimonthly magazine, ONE. Its name identifies the real spirit of CNEWA and its work – it is about one God, one world, one family and one church. Operationally, CNEWA’s charism is always to act as if we are all one, unless we are forced to encounter a difference.
The classroom in rural Ethiopia is hot and crowded. The kids sit at old, run-down desks. There’s no electricity or running water. Books, paper and pencils are scarce.
Many of these kids walk barefoot for hours to get to school. They arrive tired, hungry, and thirsty – and they’re as hungry and thirsty to learn as any children we’ve ever seen.
To call these kids poor is an understatement. Their families have nothing. Their country is desperate. But, they consider themselves lucky – they have a school to go to. Let us tell you a success story about two Ethiopian adults who once were kids like these. It’s very personal, because they both are part of our Addis Ababa office staff:
* Bizunesh is a young married woman who started work with us ten years ago as a secretary. Since then she graduated from the university and has become a highly effective program manager.
* Feleke had a distinguished career in education; now he travels around the country for CNEWA conducting free training workshops that draw teachers and administrators from government and Catholic schools.
There are hundreds of barefoot scholars with their potential – if they only get the chance. Give these kids a toehold on the future. Give them the help they need to attend school.
Sponsor a barefoot scholar. Your support of $22 a month will enable one of these children to have an education and a chance for the future. Your loving concern will encourage the family and village of your child – and build and strengthen Catholic schools in Ethiopia and nearby Eritrea. Your generosity will offer your child an escape from poverty.
Your gift today will give your child a tomorrow.
SPONSOR A BAREFOOT SCHOLAR
CNEWA HOME WEBSITE
CHILDREN ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT IN CONGO
[Christian Science Monitor, Nov 30, 2006]
Three months ago, Kisungu Gloire considered himself fortunate. A 13-year-old refugee, he had a house to sleep in, food to eat, and a stepmother who took care of him as one of her own. Then one day, Kisungu's fragile world fell apart.
His stepmother delivered a baby that was stillborn. She blamed Kisungu, calling him a witch. She had a dream that Kisungu was trying to kill her, and then tried to burn him with a flaming plastic bag. She took him to a priest to perform an exorcism, but when that appeared to have failed, she finally stopped feeding him and told him to get out.
"When I would ask for food, she refused," he says. "Another time I asked for food, she took a kitchen knife and cut me in the eye. When I talked with my brother, he said, 'Just drop it.' So then I moved out onto the streets."
Stories like Kisungu's are by no means rare, and are one of the most difficult challenges faced by aid workers and the new Congolese government as they collectively begin the process of reconstructing a nation destroyed by 30 years of dictatorship and a decade of civil war. Peace has brought its own challenges, as refugee families flow into the capital, Kinshasa, and find they cannot feed themselves. Out of survival, many are using witchcraft as an excuse to expel their most vulnerable members: children.
"Witchcraft has been there for a while, but it was never used against children in the past. Families that have old people used to accuse that old person of being a witch, when they were no longer productive," says Javier Aguilar, a child protection officer for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kinshasa. He says that 70 percent of the 20,000 street children in Kinshasa have been accused of being witches.
"But the perception of children started to change very quickly in the 1990s, when you had child soldiers starting to appear with weapons," says Mr. Aguilar. "So the general perception was that children were a threat. Congolese society is using children as a scapegoat."
Only desperation could force families to cast children into the streets, and, as a nation, Congo is one of the most desperate places in the world. With 80 percent of the population earning less than $1 a day, Congo has one of the poorest populations on the continent. It also has one of the youngest. The average life expectancy is 41. Even though 1 out of 5 children dies before reaching the age of five, nearly half of Congo's population is under the age of 14.[Picture shows Ikomba and Luwuabisa with their mother who is convinced they are possessed]
In every marketplace, children are busy, sweeping up stalls, carrying water and soda for sale, shining shoes. They are also prime recruits for gangs engaged in theft, and during the recent election campaign that ended Oct. 29, street gangs were used by political parties to cause civil unrest, pelting cars with stones and burning tires.
The government responded to the violence by rounding up street children in the hundreds. The move provoked an outcry from child advocacy groups - among those arrested were 87 young women with babies of their own - but the government appears ready to go ahead with its plans to round up street kids and send them to government farms, in blue prison overalls, hundreds of miles away.
SCRAMBLE TO HELP STREET KIDS
This has forced child advocates like Remy Mafu to move fast. At a recent, hastily called meeting of aid groups, Mr. Mafu appealed for groups to take in as many street kids as they could, and to come up with a long-term strategy of what to do next.
An Italian priest named Father Guido talked of having taken in 132 children in a shelter in Matete, a rough neighborhood. One aid worker said he barely has enough food to feed the 20 children in his center, let alone take on more. Another worried that taking in unknown children from the street may cause discipline problems among the children who have been receiving training for months.
At the Sante Famille Center, a Catholic-diocese-supported shelter for children, nearly 150 children are crowded into a tin-roofed classroom, while torrential rains fall outside. One worker blows a whistle and gets the kids to singchants to keep their spirits up. Inside, Heritier Ifaka, the chief educator at the center, struggles to adjust his programs to deal with the influx.
The Sante Famille Center provides children with rudimentary education - reading, writing, and arithmetic -- and regular medical checkups. It also provides one-on-one counseling for children who must live with the trauma of war, and worse, the trauma of family rejection. "This country is a disaster," Mr. Ifaka says. "Parents are abandoning children, and the reasons involve money and food. When we get in touch with the family, they say, 'Look, I already have children here to take care of, and you want me to take that one, too.'"
HOW CHILDREN GET STIGMATIZED
Many of the children at the center are like Frida Tshama. Orphaned at the age of 1, taken in by her grandmother and later, an aunt, Frida is a typical 13-year-old: bubbly, rambunctious, talkative. But when asked why she was thrown out of her house, two months ago, she gets teary and quiet.
"I was staying with my aunt, and one day I was cleaning the house, and a glass that was on the table fell and broke," she says. "My aunt asked me to get out of the house. If I stay, she will poison me." For months, Frida survived by selling oranges in the Matete market, but came to the center a few weeks ago. An attempted reunification with Frida's family failed. Frida's grandmother said that Frida had stolen from her aunt. Her son-in-law said that if she took Frida back, the entire family would reject both Frida and the grandmother.
Like Frida, Ntumba Tshimanga will not be going home soon. A shy 16-year-old, wearing a tattered white T-shirt and shorts, Ntumba moved to Kinshasa with his mother because of fighting in his hometown. Ntumba's father stayed behind. After Ntumba's mother died of an illness, he remained in the care of his grandparents.
Even though Ntumba worked on the street to bring food home, his presence was resented, and soon the family started to accuse him of being a witch. If he was late from an errand, they claimed that he was performing witchcraft on the streets. If there was an illness in the family, it was because Ntumba had cast a spell. Five years ago, Ntumba left to live on the streets.
Now Ntumba's family are young street kids like him. "We look after each other. We sleep in a warehouse of a school, and sometimes at the market where I sweep. If I am sick and have no strength, my friends bring medicine to me." Sometimes he thinks of joining an older sister, who, like him, was thrown out onto the street by their grandparents. But she now has children of her own, fathered by another street teen.
Ifaka hears these stories and shakes his head. "Yesterday, the African family would fight to keep their children," he says. "Now, they are throwing them away."
ZIMBABWE HAS HIGHEST NUMBER OF ORPHANS PER CAPITA IN THE WORLD
[Australian Foreign Press, Sun Nov 19, 2006]
Zimbabwe has the highest number of orphans in the world in relation to its population, mainly due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic blighting the economically ravaged country. This was revealed today by James Elder, a spokesman for the UN's Childrens' Fund UNICEF.
Zimbabwe's HIV infection rates are currently at 20.1 percent, down from 24.6 percent two years ago. At least 3,000 people die every week from AIDS-related illnesses in the country of some 12 million people, which is grappling with four-digit inflation, huge shortages of food and fuel, and spiralling unemployment and poverty.
According to the latest UN report, southern Africa is home to 14.9 million people living with AIDS, or 38 percent of the worldwide total of 38.6 million people at the end of 2005.
The country's ailing health sector has meanwhile suffered a gigantic blow with more than half of key medical professionals seeking jobs overseas, according to a report in a state-run weekly earlier this year. "The economic crisis makes it much harder to look after these orphans, whereby 90 percent of these orphans are cared for by extended families," UNICEF's Elder said.
"The (economic) crisis makes it harder to provide for basic services which children need, such as education, nutrition and health care." Meanwhile, an alliance of local child rights group Sunday expressed concern on the growing incidence of child abuse.
The Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) said there were 8,600 cases of child abuse in Zimbabwe last year.
"That is 24 every day, or one every hour," the CPWG said in a statement. "More than half of all cases reported involve sexual abuse of children."
The statement said the rise in child abuse could in part be attributed to prevalent myths such as the belief that AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases could be cured by having sex with a virgin.
"This is the most repulsive of myths," Betty Makoni, director of Girl Child Network, one of the members of CPWG, said. "The time has come for all Zimbabweans to speak out and act against the abuse of country's children."
During the first nine months of this year, Childline, another rights group, reported 34,000 calls, "or more than five every hour, on children's issues." Childline said in a statement that 70 percent of the calls were related to child abuse.
Rachel Tongoona, an official with the Girl Child Network, meanwhile expressed concern on judicial delays in dealing with child abuse cases. "Some cases take two years to start and at times the child ends up giving conflicting information in court and the case is dismissed," she told AFP. "Most of the cases we handle -- 93 percent relate to the girl child and seven percent for the boy child. There are also cases of sodomy reported."
UNICEF's representative in Zimbabwe Festo Kavishe said in a statement that community leaders should help stop child abuse. "Fears of reprisal and families' willingness to reach settlements deepen a culture of silence and enable the problem to fester undetected and unreported. For the sake of Zimbabwe, this cannot simply continue."
AIDS and POVERTY in AFRICA
By Philip Yancey[ChristianityToday.com, January 9, 2006]
The visitor to Africa comes away with a mosaic rather than a single narrative. Hence the jottings after three weeks in southern Africa.
AIDS: Bono and the big charities keep talking about it, but Africans live with it—and die from it—daily. Africa accounts for 70 percent of the total number of people infected with HIV/AIDS and 80 percent of the resulting deaths. AIDS tends to target the young, lowering overall life expectancy and wreaking havoc with economic and social programs.
I saw the impact of the disease up close at several AIDS orphanages. African churches, governments, and NGOs are scrambling to house and care for some 12 million orphans, many of whom are infected. After we visited one AIDS orphanage in Durban, South Africa, my hosts took me to a nearby cemetery. Several funerals were going on simultaneously, and we could hear the mournful chants and wails rising from each. Outside the gate, a long line of passenger buses stood waiting. With the AIDS pandemic, Saturday has become funeral day, a ritual almost as regular as church on Sunday. Half the children in the orphanage have AIDS, but the government has allotted anti-retroviral drugs for only some of these. The others will no doubt join their friends and classmates in a plot set aside for the orphanage.
POVERTY: How do you plan an economy when a third of the work force may die in the next ten years? More, how do you conduct an economy when a government is riddled with corruption and seems destined to self-destruct? Zimbabwe is the poster child for governmental calamity. In a notorious Drive Out the Trash campaign, its dictator, Robert Mugabe, bulldozed squatter homes, adding 700,000 people to the homeless rolls. Visitors are required to pay all bills in foreign currency, a sure sign of economic trouble. When a hotel had no U.S. dollars to pay the $2 in change owed me, they gave me four crisp new Zimbabwean $50,000 bills. At the current rate of 1,000 percent inflation, they will be virtually worthless in a few months.
FAITH: In sub-Saharan Africa, Christianity asserts itself boldly. Town meetings begin and close with a prayer; taxicabs and buses display Christian slogans on their fenders; and white-robed Christian sects congregate under trees in public parks. One church I visited, with a membership of 39,000, has an opera-style platform on automated tracks so that during an altar call it can retract to accommodate the hundreds responding to the invitation.
Ironically, few predicted such a response a century ago, when foreign mission agencies were setting their sights on Asia. At the great Edinburgh missionary conference of 1910, Africa deserved barely a mention, with not a single representative from that continent. According to Lamin Sanneh, a native of Gambia and professor at Yale Divinity School, Christianity began to spread only as colonialism fell and Africans gained the Bible in their own languages. Unburdened by a history of Christendom that includes such stains as the Crusades and the Inquisition, Africans respond to the gospel message with all the vigor and enthusiasm of Pentecost.
RESILIENCY: The West tends to view Africa as the news portrays it: a relentless succession of disasters. Africans themselves, however, go about their lives with survival skills honed over time. After several centuries of evisceration by slave traders and several more centuries of exploitation through colonialism, most of Africa has experienced only a few short decades of independence. Hardship is nothing new.
That Africans embrace Christianity so widely is astonishing in light of the treatment they endured from those who brought the faith to their continent. South Africa starkly demonstrates both the history of oppression and the modern resiliency. I toured the Apartheid Museum, which visitors must enter through separate entrances labeled "Europeans Only," "Blacks," or "Coloured" and walk through a maze of steel bars on which are mounted actual photo identity cards enlarged, with racial categories designated on each one.
That classification determined where you could live and where you could work, not to mention where you could eat or even sit in a park. Kate, our white tour guide, seemed shaken. "They had a right to take us whites out and shoot us in the head for how we treated them," she said. "It's a miracle that they didn't." After that sobering visit, I emerged to see blacks, whites, and coloureds sitting together in tables at the café, drinking coffee, laughing, socializing.
Rwanda, a site of genocide, is now a laboratory case for restorative justice. Uganda is showing how the AIDS plague can be reversed. The challenges of modern times—encounters between Christians and Muslims, rich and poor, sick and well—will continue to play out in Africa, which has a chance to become a light to the world even as the lights of faith grow dim in much of the West.
READ FULL ARTICLE FOR LINKS TO OTHER STORIES
© Copyright 1999-2009, Parallels. All Rights Reserved.