Standing at the graveside of Christa’s Brother recently, reflecting upon the senseless murder of another good man – seemingly only for his cellphone, I was reminded about so many reasons for us to feel disheartened to the point of defeat. Already, just in the past weeks we’ve stood at the graves of 4 close relatives. Politically and economically our country is falling apart, with the news of the day relating to out of control gender based violence towards women, and also renewed xenophobic attacks on foreigners from across our borders. Not a day goes by where the main news is not about mass corruption, the looting of State assets to the tune of Trillions of Rands, murder on the rise, and no solution to offer.
Yet, in the midst of it all we’ve felt God’s Sovereign Presence, and the Scriptural encouragement from Jeremiah 29:11 where God says: “I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!”
And so, in the midst of the many obstacles and challenges, we have the option to allow fear and uncertainty to paralize us; developing a fortress mentality and circling the wagons. Or, we can get on with the job and look at the world through God’s eyes, to see a world that is hurting, and needing the Savior. Sharing with you these few picture stories from our own note-book, we hope to encourage you. But, moreso to remind ourselves that God indeed is at work, and interested in individuals, even as He’s at work changing nations.
Mikah Mwelwa: the second of 6 children, was brought to our Center by a mother who could not provide for her. She has been with us since 2010. Because of a physical defect, probably caused by a stroke as a result of major trauma and physical abuse as a toddler, Micah very much found herself an outcast. But here at the AFnet Orphan Center she’s become part of a loving “family” and already blossoming into a lovely young lady. Recently while visiting, she came to me privately. “Daddy, I really feel shy going to school with no soles on my shoes anymore!”Needless to say, within the hour I was privileged to provide her with a brand new pair of shoes!
Annie Mwape:was one of the first orphans to be admitted into the program. She graduated from High School in 2015. But she did not achieve good enough grades to qualify for admission to College. And so she’s had to rely on small jobs around the community to provide for her keep. During our recent visit to Mansa for a Leadership Training event, she cornered me: “Pappa, I’ve struggled, but I’ve now got the grades to allow me to enter a training program, so I can become an assistant Nurse!”She went on: “I know I’m not in the program anymore! But am I not still your child?”What could I say! What would Jesus do! AFnet is sending her back to School.
Kasuba Chanda: A former Orphan of our Mansa Center, Kasuba completed Theological studies and was recently commissioned to plant his first church on the border between Zambia and Tanzania. He’s done a marvelous work at forming a core congregation already. But, he also surprized me with the following picture he recently sent, showing progress on the church building that he’s been working on. They personally made the clay bricks, and managed all the construction up to this point. And now he wrote asking: “Daddy, we are kindly asking if you can help us finansially in anyways of putting up roofing. We will really appreciate. We have much pressure. Next month its time for the rainfall to begin, and we face the challenge of the new membership running away because of the rain. So I thought to sharing with you, and will be awaiting your response.”
Foster: Forster has been part of our Orphan Care Team in Mansa, for around a decade. Needless to say: her smile is contagious, and has always been exactly the same. She has been in charge of the “kitchen” and making sure that the daily food provisions are purchased, and that the meals get prepared by her volunteer kitchen staff of 5 precious Widows who have helped cook for our kids for years now. Almost dying from skelatal Tuberculosis, and being on the brink of death for almost two years, she is now back and again serving the children and the church with that same happy smile. She works as a volunteer, running a small roadside stall on the side to provide for an income.
These few stories represent the “Little People”, those we so often overlook. But the lesson that we’ve learned is that the“Least of these”represent the Kingdom of Heaven. Therfore, despite whatever pressures we face, we refuse to back out of the call that God placed upon our lives. In spite of the many problems we encounter along the way, we continue to believe that our lives can, and must help make this world a better place. After all, when we gaze around us and see unimaginable suffering, poverty, injustice and oppression we dare not look at our own circumstances and try to find comparisons! So we forge ahead as agents of change, boldly proclaiming that there is Hope for Africa!
How can we believe anything less! God has blessed our efforts, and He continues to use AFnet as an instrument for the advancement of His Kingdom. But the task ahead is still enormous. So we trust God for His provision. As you consider your on going involvement with us, do pray for us also that we may have the courage and stamina to run the race, and to finish well.Your care, contributions and commitment indeed helps us to help those mentioned above, and, along with the Body of Christ in general, to help make this world a better place.
Johan and Christa Combrinck