I Love Engineers!
I remember one mission trip to Mexico – broken down on the side of the road, not 4 hours into the 1000-mile trip in “The Faith Builder” – our church’s beater bus. Russ, the lone engineer on the bus, came alive! With all the perkiness and enthusiasm of a kid who just found a bag of candy, Russ scooted under that bus, chattering all the way about possible solutions to our predicament. His joy in life is having a huge problem and finding the solution. He’s an engineer!
Engineers go crazy in Africa. Their tails are wagging before they get off the plane – so many unsolvable riddles to untangle! They want to head right to the villages and show the people a different kind of crop that will reduce hunger, a clean water system that will improve health, a plan for community gardens…. And Africa will soak it all up with joy!
But you know what deflates that same engineer? When he comes back in two years and sees that in fact all his “solutions” were nothing more than a short-term relief for one season. They did nothing for a long-term adjustment to the problems.
Nels led a well-funded organization, plowing millions of dollars into Africa’s deep well of problems. He was blissfully content at his benevolence until he went back to review his last 10 years of projects to see the changes he had affected. NOTHING HAD CHANGED! Every place he had put a dam or a school or a hospital was still as poor and sick and depressed as ever.
Engineers are trained from diapers that 2+2=4 and you can follow a rational thread to find a solution to any problem. Is this place – this “third-world” – like a different planet? Everything seems counter-intuitive. This is the place where giving $30 loans produces more than $5,000 grants. Where housing 100 orphans is less than housing 12. Where having a mass rally where 10,000 raise their hands for salvation is less than 5 being discipled. The net impact in 10 years will tell the truth – less is more!
In the next few newsletters we will cover several counter-intuitive “Why’s” of our vision and method.
Why Orphan Homes?
Some would like to see us do larger scale orphan care. Others would like us to adopt a more grass roots approach – empowering village grandmothers to care for them. Both of these are fine approaches. Here is why we do what we do:
Orphans can transform Africa.
I was so sick and tired of the death and debauchery. I was drowning in hopelessness. Out of my 13 orphans in camp, 12 were living in orphan-headed households; One of the little kids we were hoping to help died last night of starvation. Most pastors and community leaders I knew were getting HIV, consulting witch doctors, propagating sick traditions such as this: when a person contracts HIV he must sleep with a virgin to be cured, and since so few were virgins, one must find a young one…
Then I met him – a pastor that seemed different – preaching and standing for righteousness. I asked him what made him different. He told me simply: “I was an orphan and some missionaries raised me.”
God spoke: There are 15 million AIDS orphans in Africa. This is the hope of Africa! If the Church of Jesus can rise up from the dust and raise these children in incubators of health and truth and love, and they can grow into the leaders of nations – there is hope!
Let me say something immediately – I am not at all promoting that what Africa needs is more Westerners to raise African children with our superior culture! NO WAY! What Africa needs is Jesus – best transfused to these children by Christ filled African moms and dads. Us outsiders can stand alongside and help to make this happen.
Transformation is the objective.
We were working in an amazing orphanage of 300 kids, led by a phenomenal Spirit-led woman. But the more times we came and served them, the more we saw that kids were being affected on the surface, but many were putting on an appearance of spirituality in order to gather gifts and attention from the visiting Westerners. When the kids graduated out of the orphanage they were back on the streets doing the same things as before.
Again God spoke: Transformation requires personal investment. I learned this as a pastor – it is more powerful to really shape the lives of 4 or 5 children in your home, than the mild influence of 1000 sermons to a sleepily receptive congregation.
Our general modus operandi is one of grass roots indigenous sustainability – so orphan homes that are so often dependent on long-term financial support seem too much like a Western solution to an African problem. Why not empower African grannies to care for the kids and help them with food, business and training?
Again – the guiding vision is kids maturing into exceptional leaders in church, family, society, and government. Only in this way will Africa be saved. So every resource available must be poured into these children – the best of discipline, love, affirmation, education, health, Biblical worldview. This is best accomplished, we believe, in God’s incubator: a Home, led by solid Biblical worldview believers – sadly, in contrast to most village African grannies.
NEWS AND PRAYER REQUESTS
- Our staff dorm is finished and occupied! 4 more rooms – another step closer to living in the village full time.
- Regina and Dan have done a couple months of partner building, and now are on Sabbatical in the States, and the ministry is running well, led by our own capable staff. Pray for them as they navigate difficult issues.
- Also pray for Dan and Regina to enter into the fullness of this Sabbatical – rest and health, but also retooling and hearing a plan for the future.
- Pray for Dan’s health as he continues to struggle with vertigo-like issues.
- We just got word that our lovely Team House in Livingstone we have had since 2009, is now up for sale at an ungodly price. Dec 15 deadline. Pray for us to know what to do.
- It seems another staff is getting married sometime soon. Pray for Stanley and his fiancé as they discern how they will live – will he still be able to volunteer at Love’s Door? Will they find sponsors?
- We recently received two more children in the House of Moses – Mary and Joshua – 6 and 8 years old. Pray for them to be melted by love and acceptance, as they become a part of the family.
- We are gathering a good stock of 1-2 year Western workers joining us next spring for our first Zambian CPX and then service. We are still praying for two specialists: an Admin person, and a base facilities manager. Let us know if you are interested.
- We are seeing God’s hand on our ministry in Livingstone to the youth. New leaders are coming up, serving the lost and the neglected. We are so proud of them. Mike Lungu is leading this ministry.
- Thank Jesus for His amazing faithfulness! We have been praying for open windows of financial blessing for many months now – and this month it has been poured out! Thank you so many who have blessed us out of your storehouse! And continue to remember us at year end tax appraisal time!