We love children here at Harvesters! Across East Africa and Asia, we care for more than 1,500 children in a variety of settings with the ultimate goal of demonstrating the love of Christ to these children, their families, and communities. Our response to the physical and spiritual needs of orphans and underprivileged children varies from large homes in Kenya to group homes of 6 to 10 children in Russia to low caste schools in India. The needs are great, but so are the opportunities… and the potential.
A pastor friend let me listen to a song last year entitled “Kings & Queens” about how children who we often view as “the least of these” will be crowned kings and queens and “clothed in majesty” someday. What a great picture for all of us of what heaven will be. Why wait until heaven? We have an opportunity now to clothe these children in the majesty of Christ’s love, not just because they are the least of these that Jesus referred to in Matthew 25, but because they are kings and queens with dreams and potential to impact the world around them.
In this issue of our newsletter there are a number of reports and articles about how and why ministering to children is such a big part of what we do.
As you read please keep in mind that these future doctors, pilots, journalists, architects, pastors, and teachers are not children to be pitied and they don’t need our sympathy. They need hope that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ and an opportunity to reach their full potential.
In Pallisa, Uganda, approximately one third of all children are orphans. Another 10% are considered “vulnerable children”, meaning that many basic needs of the child are unable to be met. Currently, Kerith Ministries provides services to 220 children each week. Seventy-six of those children receive help with school fees and would otherwise be unable to attend school. Pastor Sam and his wife, Mercy, provide housing, food, clothing, and education to twenty children living at the children’s home.
Abedi’s father died when he was two. His mother moved from house to house providing labor in exchange for food. They only had three meals per week. Abedi attended a Bible club conducted by Kerith. He is now living in Kerith Children’s Home and is healthy and happy. He wants to become a doctor.
Pastor Habimana has taken a multi-pronged approach to responding to the needs of children in his community. Eastern DRC has been plagued by decades of rebel fighting, government mismanagement, and natural disasters. This has resulted in there being many orphans and children living in extreme poverty. The ministry tries to place children in the homes of church members or at a small orphanage managed by the ministry. There is also a school providing education for 2,000 children, many on scholarship that would not be able to go to school otherwise.
Several of the orphans assisted by the ministry have graduated from high school and college and have returned to teach at Christian schools or work in ministry.
Bizi, one of children helped by Habimana says that “at five years old, my mother passed away when delivering my sister, Angelique. Three years later our father died. We went to live with our grandmother who also died. We were taken in by Pastor Habimana. We are living a good life and are happy to be considered his children. We now attend school. We thank God for having a parent like him.”
Pastor Ben in Myanmar has a different perspective. He was orphaned at age two. God gave him a heart to care for orphans and poor children. The ministry began a small orphanage with ten children, which has grown to 30 children. The ministry now works with four local families that care for 125 children. While they provide food, shelter and education for these children, Pastor Ben says that the most important thing they provide is the security and hope found in a relationship with Christ.