By Athanase Habimana – Union of Baptist Churches, D.R. Congo
We thank you for praying for us as we go through this pandemic period. In the D. R. Congo, we are currently in a lockdown period. No church services are allowed, so we are preaching over the radio. We also have teams that are sending messages to church members to comfort and encourage them. We have been able to install hand-washing stations so that people have access to basic sanitation. Below is a glimpse into our recent outreach providing aid to widows.
Tumusifu Safari is 88 years old. After her husband died in 1984, she continued with their farming activities. Over the last few years, she has become more frail and is unable to tend the farm. We were able to provide her with food assistance during this pandemic period. She was so thankful to receive our support! She said she will continue to pray until God ends COVID-19.
Rosa Bushala lost her husband in 2006. Since then, she has lived near her youngest son. Rosa helps provide for the family by selling coal. Though this does bring in a small amount of money, it is not enough to feed the family. We have been able to supply her with food and assist with her home rental fee. Rosa has been a believer since childhood. She is a singer and serves faithfully in our Hekima church. Rosa has always trusted that God would provide for her and her family and is grateful for the assistance she received.
By Mutabaruka Aphrodis – Seira Community Churches, Rwanda
Thank you for joining us in prayer! Our church members are doing what they can to help others in their communities, visiting the sick and providing food for families in need. They keep leaders and each other informed as to what the needs are and how they may pray for each other. Since we are unable to meet in person, we have been holding conference calls twice each week to share the Gospel. So far, we have averaged 100 people on each call! More than 20 families were supported in the last two weeks through HIM. We want to share two of them with you.
The Muhirwa family became members of our church in 2012. Olive became a widow in 2014 after her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. She is active in the choir and is in charge of taking care of visitors in the church. Her two sons are also involved in the children’s choir and attend primary school.
Olive previously worked in a printing factory, but has been jobless for the last six months. As you can imagine, life has been difficult. We have been able to provide the family with basic food supplies like rice, beans, cooking oil, and charcoal. Olive loves to give back by cleaning the church during the week.
Thomas is a leader of Rukumberi church. He and his wife have six children. Their life at Rukumberi is hard because they rent a house, which means they do not have a plot of land to plant crops. People is this area are very poor. Though the church is very active, they are unable to support their pastor. We are grateful to be able to help provide for them and are thankful for Thomas’ commitment to spreading the Gospel.
The Kerith Ministry family and our community would like to thank God for His protection over us and for using you to support us during this trying moment. In the midst of all the challenges that come with COVID-19, we want to let you know that we are doing well health wise and spiritually.
Through HIM donations, we have been able to support more than 300 families during this time with food, salt, and soap.
Halima (seen here with Mercy Mwesigwa) is a widow who lost her husband to HIV/AIDS. She lives a few blocks from Kerith in a grass thatched house with four of her grandchildren. We were able to help her with food that will last her two weeks. Halima has challenges to sustain herself and her grandchildren since she does not have a piece of land to cultivate her own food. Halima has taught us to have faith in the Lord even in the hardest times like these. Halima received Christ three years ago after having been a Muslim all her life. We ask that you pray for her that the Lord will meet the needs of her life.
We were also able to assist Goretti, a widow who lost her husband six years ago. Her family lives in a ramshackle, grass thatched house; and she singlehandedly struggles to educate and feed her three teenage children. I met Goretti during our community outreach on Parenting God’s Way for single mothers. Like many other widows, she cannot earn any money because of the lockdown. We were able to provide food for her family. Our long-term plan for Goretti is to employ her as a trainer of our teenage children, women, and single mothers in tailoring and sanitary pad making. We are trusting God for five sewing machines to be used in the training. If we get the machines, we will be able to train more women like Goretti.
Kerith Ministry is also providing counselling and prayer to families that are facing hard times feeding their families and paying bills. Others are facing domestic violence due the challenges in the families. Because of the restrictions of movement, we do this by making calls, and those we cannot reach by making a call, we make a short visit.
Kerith Health Centre is also providing medical support to people that are facing health challenges and cannot afford the costs. We have also provided free maternity services to the delivering mothers to help reduce the maternal mortality rate, which is on the rise due to the lock down.
We want to thank God for His unending love, care, and protection to all our friends and ministry partners.
New Fish Farm
We are excited about our new fish farm project. Fish production is the third largest income generating activity in Uganda. Over the last two years, we have been studying fish farming to see if our land is suitable and if it would generate both food for our children’s home and some income for self-sustainability of our ministry. Our findings gave us the encouragement to embark on this project.
We are employing locals to help in the excavation of the land and construction of the farm, giving them new skills they can use to provide for their families. Once the farm is yielding, we can easily move to a larger scale operation since the property is adjacent to wetland.
Our objectives with this project are to improve the living conditions of our community, to promote biblical values of work and conservation of the environment, and to contribute to the income of Kerith Ministry. To that end, we anticipate that we will sell approximately 75% of the fish raised, while the remaining 25% will be consumed in our children’s home.
By Rajendra Yellamelli – Sion Assembly Church, India
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the government of India has taken the strict measure of instituting a compulsory 40-day lockdown of the entire nation. During this great hour of need, SAC has stepped in to offer relief services. Adhering to all safety and hygiene measures, we are safely providing food and water to people across our city of Vijayawada (with Government permission).
We have a team of chefs and other volunteers in place for cooking, packing, and distributing meals and water to people on the roadside, the homeless, and others in our city. We were forced to stop just a few days ago as virus cases are increasing, and government and police are no longer allowing us to distribute food packets. We will begin serving again as soon as restrictions are lifted and we receive permission from the police.
We met Kishore (seen here with some of our team) while delivering food packets. He is from Delhi and was working as a cook in a hotel in Vijayawada. The hotel has since closed, but he cannot go back to see his family because all transportation is shut down. He has been sleeping on the pavement by the roadside for 30 days. With tears in his eyes, he told us how happy he was to receive his food packet and that he is so thankful that we were able to help him.
I praise God for the safety and protection of our SAC families and SAC pastors. No one is stricken with COVID-19. Please continue to pray for us and the work we are doing in helping the people through this difficult situation.
Thank you so much for your prayers and your strong support to our people. We would not be able to do our work without your help. May God bless you for your prayers and support.
With over 300 churches and 200 pastors, UBC has seen tens of thousands of lives transformed through the power of Christ. In their own words, believers share their testimonies of His faithfulness.
Pastor Maisha Joseph I was born in Masisi village in October 1969. Before accepting Christ at age 22, I was deeply involved in sin – drinking without control and visiting prostitutes. I joined the rebellion group and became a soldier.
A pastor came to visit our camp. He preached the word of God from Matthew 28:19-20 and told me about the goodness of God. Five days later, I left the rebellion group and went to the village where the pastor had a church. I testified there of what God did for me – He spared my life! Just two days after I left the rebellion, 67 of my former colleagues were killed in an attack by the government army.
I totally believed in God and started doing the work of the Lord in the church. Two years later, I was married. I studied and became an evangelist. I have since planted nine churches, one of which I pastor. I thank God for everything He does in my life!
Janne Muzuka I was born in 1972 in Nyabibwe village. My mother died when I was two, and my father took another wife. By age 14, I began a terrible life of prostitution in a drinking establishment. I was used by the owner to make money for her, but was too poor to support myself. If I continued to work for her, I was able to have food and a place to sleep.
When I was 17, Pastor Habarurema came to my village and preached in an open-air meeting. His words touched me deeply. When he asked who was ready to repent of their sins, I was the first one. In front of everyone, I repented, but I was too well known by everyone in the village. They didn’t believe that I would follow Christ. The pastor arranged for me to move to Goma where I started my new life in his home. I am now 26 and married with four children. I am the president of the women’s group in our church. God has truly restored my life!
Many of you know that our primary ministry is providing education and a chance to learn about the Gospel for improverished children. Beyond the children, GSSK brings God’s word to adults in home settings with small groups of believers. Here, we share with you the impact that GSSK has had in our community.
Parvati In Indian culture, girls are viewed as a burden. Parvati comes from a very poor family. Her aged parents arranged for her marriage at the age of 17. According to tradition, Parvati went to live with her husband’s extended family. There, she was tortured physically and mentally, beaten, and starved. One day, she was pushed into a barrel drum and left to die. On hearing this, her brother rushed to rescue her and brought her back to her father’s home.
She came to our school in total despair, asking for any job. We took her as a helper in our nursery section. She loved the job among these young children aged two to three years old. This helped her recover from the trauma she experienced. We helped her further her studies, even as she was working in our school. Parvati has since earned a Bachelor of Arts, then a Diploma in Education, and is now pursuing Montessori training which will be completed in 18 months. During the seven years since she came to us, her whole life has changed. Parvati, once very desperate and broken, now rejoices in her new life in the Lord.
We noticed that one of our students, Kajal, became worried and depressed. As we asked her the reason, she confided that her father is an alcoholic, comes home fully drunk, beating up her mother and creating scenes. We counseled her and prayed with her during our morning prayer sessions at school. We all began praying for her father and, eventually, we began counseling him as well. In the beginning, he was very angry. Ultimately, he became more responsive. Praise the Lord – he got out of the clutches of alcohol! Now he goes around his community telling people about the peace and joy he found in Christ.
We thank you for your prayers and support that make reaching people like these possible.
We thank our Lord for this new year of 2020 and for the ended 2019. Our ministry has seen much fruit this year as more people have heard the Gospel. Here are just a few examples:
In Remera, members of the church wanted to help rebuild the home of an elderly woman. Her home had been destroyed, and she had no one to assist her with repairs. She was deeply involved with witchcraft, but the church members felt strongly about ministering to her. They approached her to ask about helping, and the pastor asked to pray with her. In that prayer, he asked the Holy Spirit to touch her. She has rejected witchcraft and is now serving Jesus! Here you see church members working on her home.
We recently held a one-day workshop for women to encourage them in their everyday life. One woman, Agnes, shared her testimony about how Jesus sustained her even when she was struggling the most. She spoke about her life before becoming a Christian. Her husband wasn’t a Christian either, and most of their days were spent fighting. He would send her out of the home during the night. There were many days when Agnes wasn’t able to eat because her husband spent all of their money on alcohol.
Members of the church visited her village. She heard them praying and wanted to know more. Soon after, Agnes accepted Christ! She became a singer in the church and began faithfully praying for her husband and family. She prayed for God to give her strength. God has answered her prayers, and her husband is now a believer!
Our children’s feeding program in Kigali feeds hundreds of children experiencing malnutrition. Their families are now attending church and hearing the good news of Jesus. We thank God for these opportunities to tell others about Him!
We thank God for our partnership with Harvesters. Over the years, we have enjoyed working together to build the Kingdom of God spiritually, socially, and economically.
Last year we embarked on empowering the women in our community through providing micro loans so that they can work to be bread winners. A micro loan can cover a number of projects.
Gertrude Gertrude is a widow taking care of her three children, one of whom attends our primary school. She also runs a grocery retail store, which was left to her by her late husband. However, this business could not meet their basic needs. She came to our ministry for a micro loan. Since receiving the loan, Gertrude’s business has been picking up so well, and her capital is increasing! She is now in position to efficiently take care of her family.
We have also provided training to other women in the community, together with their husbands, on modern farming. We conducted a workshop in November, which attracted 102 participants. This training enables them to productively use the small plots of land they have to do multiple things.
Emmanuel Before he gave his life to Jesus Christ, Emmanuel was practicing witchcraft. During his work as a witch doctor, he met a young lady with whom he had a child. Because of her strong Christian faith, his family refused to let her live with them, which forced him to move to Pallisa. While there, he was introduced to River of God Church and was led to Christ five years ago. Through our discipleship programs and practical ministry, Emmanuel has led many to Christ in open-air crusades, door-to-door outreach, and street preaching. Not only that, he has also developed skills in running our church sound system. Currently, Emmanuel runs our daily lunch hour meetings, which draw a huge crowd. He is among those that we are planning to send out this year to plant a new church.
I would like to thank you so much for the great work you are doing through Kerith Ministries. We know that God continues to use each of you in so many ways. Because of your support through Harvesters International Ministries, we have been able to accomplish much and create a lasting impact in the community and in the lives of individuals.
In addition to providing a home for 32 children, Kerith Ministries offers an outstanding Christ-centered education to more than 165 children each day in our primary school. Our school children, most of whom walk from one of five surrounding villages, receive breakfast, lunch, medical care, and a great deal of love each day.
We are thankful for a recent special gift that God provided so that we can begin a new, micro-finance program. We will be making small, but life changing, loans to widows and single mothers in our area. Currently, 18 participants are undergoing the screening and orientation process to receive loans that will help them purchase needed items to begin or enhance their small business enterprises.
God has blessed our evangelistic efforts with over 400 new believers accepting Christ so far this year. Our new church plant among the Mening people in far northern Uganda continues to grow. Please pray for the new pastor who has recently moved there to reach more of these people for Christ and to disciple the new believers there. The material needs are also great in this area. On a recent medical outreach, our team met an 18 month old boy named Amon who was suffering from malaria, pneumonia, and scabies. Amon’s father died when he was two months old. His mother, three sisters and two brothers struggled greatly due to poverty and mistreatment by her deceased husband’s family. When the team met Amon he weighed only 11 pounds. The team was able to take him back to Kerith where he is living with the other children in the ministry’s full-time care. He is receiving regular medical care as well as proper nutrition. We are so grateful for his tremendous improvement! Please be in prayer for him and his family.
I would like to share with you our urgent need to install electrical power to our ministry property including the orphanage, clinic, and school. For years, we have been using solar panels to provide power. Due to the growth in our work and our vision to expand the ministry, we need access to regular electrical power. Using solar panels has turned out to be very expensive and inefficient to run the lights and support our office work. We have faced several challenges because the batteries break down often and are very costly to replace. During the rainy season, they do not generate enough power for lighting. All of this results in several dangers and issues for us. We have too much darkness at night, which attracts thieves who have tried to break into the health center. We need security lighting to also increase the safety of our children in the orphanage. Likewise, improved inside lighting will help our children to read at night and complete their homework assignments. Dependable electrical power will allow us to use electrical appliances in the clinic to provide better care and service to our patients. We will also use power to train young people in skills like metal fabrication, use of our electrical sawing machines, and computers.
To have electrical power at our ministry, the utility company must construct lines that will pass by over 30 other families. Those families will then have opportunity to have electricity for their homes. The total cost of this project is approximately $12,000 and will provide great, ongoing benefits that will impact many lives and our community in a wonderful way.
We are trusting God in all these matters. Again, thank you for your prayers and support.
This summer, I had the privilege of traveling to Pallisa, Uganda, to meet and work alongside Pastor Sam and his wife, Mercy Mwesigwa, for two months. While there, I learned so many valuable lessons such as living a selfless life, showing the love of Jesus to others, and the way we should effectively do missions. As someone who has been on multiple mission trips, including those within the states and all throughout various parts of the world, it was interesting to learn more about creating a ministry like Kerith Children’s Home and what it means to be missionaries within your own culture and country. At times, it was personally difficult to see the poverty and the struggles that these people are faced with daily. Struggles that most Americans will never be able to comprehend. I believe that it’s important that people go on mission trips. It changes your perspective on life and what it really means to love and follow Jesus. I know it certainly has changed my perspective.
Pastor Sam has a heart for reaching people with the gospel, discipling believers so that they can grow deeper in their faith, and church planting. He has planted churches in places where people have never heard about the love, hope, and grace that we have solely in Jesus. Mercy’s heart for orphans and other vulnerable children is evident in the work of Kerith Ministries. In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus instructs his followers that the world will know they are his by the way they treat others. Mercy and Sam are the living examples of these verses. Through their actions and kindness, they show Jesus to the very least of these. What a selfless example they are of being Jesus to a lost and broken world.
During my time at Kerith, I taught at the school. I taught English classes to multiple grade levels, which allowed me the opportunity to meet and interact with children not only from the children’s home, but from the surrounding community as well. As an educator, it was exciting to learn about the education system in Uganda. Kerith Ministries is constantly growing and has an exciting vision for the future. Kerith is equipping their students to have a chance at life once they reach adulthood. It’s horrifying to think where some of these children might be without Kerith. Most of the children at the home were rescued by Mercy. The stories of their lives prior to being rescued will bring you to tears. The children’s home, school, health clinic, and farm are some of the many ministries that make up Kerith. It was a privilege to serve with them during my time in Uganda.
My life has forever been changed by my summer in Uganda. At times, I felt so inadequate being there. How could someone so insignificant as me make a difference in the lives of these children? I came to the realization while in Uganda that I can’t change the circumstances of every person I meet, however badly I may desire, because only Jesus can do that. However, I can be present in the life of that child and show love to them while I’m here. As a follower of Christ, I am called to simply love others just as Jesus loves me. So with every hand held, every cup of porridge served, smile and hug given, and every broken English word learned, I am constantly learning to simply be love.
Virginia is a senior at the University of West Florida. She is currently student teaching at a school specifically for students with special needs. After graduation, she would like to teach high school students with special needs. She would also like to get more involved with mission work.
Have A Heart For Missions?
Harvesters is committed to helping encourage a passion for missions in the hearts of those God allows us to meet and to offer opportunities for them to serve, grow, and learn. Internships, short term trips, and even actively participating in our work here in the U.S. are all great ways to be part of what God is doing through our ministry partners. Anyone interested in any of these opportunities should contact Doug Radford to learn more. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or feel free to call him at 252-230-9742.