Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

On Christmas Day a youth group from a local church came and spent the day with the kids.
December is the hottest time of year and the beginning of the rainy season. It’s very enjoyable to eat outside under a big mango tree.
The kids had the traditional special meal of grilled chicken, rice, and french fries and the youth group brought cake.
Ronilda, Maezinha, and Nelson.
Rock, Samito, and Mauricio were some of the littlest kids in the orphanage when I first came in 2007. Today they are young adults who we are so happy to see back with us for all the holidays and special occasions.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dining Hall Construction

Some of the children in our Nampula orphanage in front of the new dining hall after the walls and roof went up.

Couples participating in our marriage conference. Even though construction is not completely finished we were able to have our bi-annual youth conference and marriage conference inside the new dining hall. We had over 200 people attend each conference with plenty of space for more next year. In the past we have had to rent facilities outside the orphanage to fit all who want to attend. These conferences promote Christian family values and aim to help marriages stay together and support one another. In this photo you can also see the roof’s structure from the inside.

What the dining hall looks like now.

Thank you so much for all the donations that have enabled us to build the dining hall up to this point!

Revolution Day!

A statue of Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique, sits in front of the courthouse and government offices in the city center of Nampula.

The kids love going to the town center on holidays. September 25th is Revolution Day, a national holiday celebrating the beginning of the war for independence from the Portuguese colonizers. (The Portuguese started colonizing Mozambique in the 1500s and the war for independence was lasted from 1964-1974. It was immediately followed by a civil war that lasted until 1992.)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Marriage Conference

By Victor 

Over the past fifteen years we have been working only with kids, but now we have the opportunity to work with parents and married couples in the community. One of the main goals of the marriage conference is to help build up the base structure of the family, the marriage between husband and wife, something that has suffered greatly in this country. As we build up families with God’s word and allow Him to use us in bringing messages of restoration to broken marriages, we believe we can prevent more children from becoming orphans and also help families to see the need to care for orphans. When broken families are healed and relationships are stronger, we will have more godly families and citizens and the name of Christ will be glorified throughout the cities. The speakers at the conference included Victor, Pastor Hasuell Banda from Living Water Church in Malawi, and Elder John Nichols from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, U.S. Two pastors gave devotionals, Pastor Abel, an overseer in the Wesleyan Church in Northern Mozambique and Pastor Martinho, the Bishop of Peace of Christ Evangelical Church.

Pastor Banda, from Malawi, preaching in English with Victor translating into Portuguese.

Being in ministry, it is easy to burn out and lose focus of one’s relationship with God in the name of serving others. Knowing that this is a reality, we invited Pastor Hasuell Banda to come and encourage the people. Pastor Banda taught on the subject of being a leader and on his devotional life. His message touched every pastor, husband, and wife present. We are very thankful that through his teaching leaders are focusing more on their spiritual life, rather than just focusing all their energy on caring for others. Thank you brother Banda for your obedience and willingness to take a 16-hour bus trip to come and stretch the church in Nampula.

Christina and Mauridi John leading praise and worship. They are originally from the DR Congo and we have been greatly blessed over the past decade by the beautiful music of all our friends from the Congo. There is really nothing else like it.

John Nichols teaching on stewardship.

Whether poor or rich, finances are often a source of struggle in marriages. Many couples separate or get divorced because of financial disagreements. Mozambique is no different from any other country. It is not uncommon to find married couples, even within the body of Christ, in which all the familial assets are regarded solely as the husbands. Women can go through decades of marriage without knowing the husband’s income. Similarly, decision-making within the household is often unilateral and agreements are not made together. Each year at the conference, we tackle different issues with the intention of continuing to equip the body of Christ. This year I asked John Nichols from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, a fellow board member of Evanjáfrica, to bring teaching on financial stewardship. It was a blessing for all of the participants in the conference to hear him share on the biblical approach to managing finances. We thank God because we are already getting phone calls from some of the participants thanking us for enhancing their marriage. We can see that Satan is losing ground and God is gaining glory!

Pastor Abel with his wife Laura and Pastor Banda

Behind the Scenes: Friend from Congo, Joe from Georgia, Auston from South Carolina, Visado, and Charity from Washington.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Witchcraft, Murder, and Hunted People

WARNING: Disturbing Content. Please preview before letting children read.

Have you heard of the plight of the northern white rhino? 

Photo source:
Above is a picture of Sudan, the last male of the species. Four armed guards protect Sudan 24 hours a day inside a game park in Kenya. Protect him from what? Poachers. There are several countries (not in Africa) where some people believe that rhino horn powder has magical powers that will heal disease, cure a hangover, or help a person perform better. Because of this, some species of rhino have been illegally hunted to near extinction, and according to the conservationist organization Save the Rhino, over 5,940 rhinos have been illegally killed for their horns since 2008. Conservationist groups and African countries with rhinos are doing all they can to protect these animals and catch and prosecute poachers. But they are often no match for contract poachers who can get as much as $300,000 for the largest rhino horns, which are then smuggled to other continents. The manner in which poachers have been butchering rhinos for their horns (which I will not describe here) is gruesome and horrible and would be condemned by any normal hunter.

There is something even worse happening in some parts of Africa which gets much less attention.

In Tanzania and neighboring countries there are actual human beings who are hunted and murdered for witchcraft because they have albinism. While seeing pictures of what’s happened to poached rhinos makes me feel sick and angry, reading the accounts of what has happened to fellow human beings with albinism leaves me sobbing and feeling completely crazy. There are countless stories of unimaginable butchering of infants ripped from their mothers arms, children and parents murdered in front of the their loved ones, and much worse. This has been going on since 2008, in the same time period and general region where there has been a huge surge in rhino poaching. But how many of you have heard about the rhino crisis and how many of you have heard about atrocities being committed against African people with albinism?

Albinism is a condition where a person is born with little or no pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. In places where a lot of people have blond hair and white skin, people with albinism don’t stand out as dramatically as they do in the rest of the world. Because they have such a different appearance from everyone around them, it is impossible for African people with albinism to disguise their condition. They usually have severe skin problems that result in skin cancer, caused by sunburn that can’t be avoided. There is no way to escape sun exposure in a place where people do most things outdoors, and there is no way for the average person to obtain sunscreen. People with albinism also suffer from serious eye and vision problems because eye development requires melanin, which people with albinism don’t have. If these health issues were not enough of a struggle, people with albinism now have to live in terror and hiding as they are actually being hunted for their body parts.

In Tanzania some people believe that people with albinism have magical powers, and witchdoctors have done witchcraft with their hair, fingernail clippings, and urine for as long as people can remember. But over the past decade witchdoctors have begun telling people the lie that the limbs and organs of people with albinism have powerful magic. Certain influential and wealthy people go to a witchdoctor for a spell that they falsely believe will increase their wealth and power. The witchdoctor charges them huge amounts of money and then pays killers to bring them the body parts of people with albinism for the potions they give these “clients.” A BBC article sites the Red Cross, saying a witchdoctor will pay $75,000 for the body of a person with albinism. Families even have to secretly burry their loved ones with albinism in cement coffins to prevent them from being dug up for more witchcraft. 

We first heard about these atrocities being committed against people with albinism in Tanzania several years ago. But in the last two years there have now been reports of people with albinism being attacked and murdered in at least 20 other countries in Africa, including Mozambique. And this year we received children in the orphanage whose mother was killed in this way because she had albinism. (We are not saying who they are to protect their identities.) Our new children do not have albinism so they are not in danger, but we really cannot even fathom the trauma that they have suffered. Many of the children in our care have survived heart-wrenching loss and experiences that resulted in their coming to us, but this is the most horrific thing we have seen.

People with albinism who survive attacks can end up with missing limbs or fingers that their attackers chopped off and sold to witchdoctors. Children are the most vulnerable.Photo source:
What is being done? 

Most people in the countries where these things are happening are sickened and outraged by it, and police and governments have caught and prosecuted some of the killers and witchdoctors involved. In Tanzania there are some places where children with albinism are living together and receiving an education while being protected by armed guards. There is a Christian non-profit organization called Under the Same Sun that that is fighting against the persecution of people with albinism in Tanzania as well as raising global awareness of this crisis. The wikipedia page, “Persecution of People with Albinism” is very informative. Most major African, American, and British news agencies have written stories on this issue recently, and it has been discussed and condemned in the US congress. The Under the Same Sun website lists 25 cases where people with albinism were granted asylum in other nations in Africa and overseas. But the murders have not stopped, and most people with albinism live in fear and hiding. A lot more needs to be done.

Africa in Context

Sometimes when people hear about bad things that happen in Mozambique or other parts of Africa, they feel scared to visit or think it is a place where there is more evil than in the United States. The media gets the most viewers when they have more outrageous or tragic stories. Africa is often disproportionately represented as a place consumed by poverty, despair, atrocities, and godlessness instead of a place filled with hospitality, beauty, hope, hard-working families, ingenuity, and where God is greatly at work. There are many Christians and non-Christians in these countries who are fighting to protect people with albinism and bring their killers to justice with the resources they have, just as there are many Americans fighting against serial killers, child predators, and other evils that have caused death and trauma in the U.S. We hope we are not perpetuating an unbalanced view of Africa with this story as we tell you about what one group of people has been facing, which has lead to our receiving the children of a murdered mother into our orphanage.

News stories about this issue in Nampula