If you're a regular follower of this blog, you probably noticed that there hasn't been much to follow. This isn't because nothing is happening at the Hope Children's Center, its because we haven't had to send as many Americans to do the work - which is a good thing!!
But many of you may be completely new to this blog. So this post it just to give you an idea of what Cornerstone (actually, what GOD) is doing in Zambia and how you can be praying.
First, a little history. Through a connection with Gospelink, a missions organization operating around the world and in Zambia, we met Pastor Navice Kalunga. Navice had a great vision to see a place that would help ease the burden of the local Zambian churches by caring for orphans. In Zambia, half the population is under 16 and over 1 million of these children are orphans! There is no government care for these children, they are simply taken in by whoever will have them. The problem is, most of the families can't afford to feed their own children, much less the kids they have taken in.
Through conversations and a growing relationship, God gave Cornerstone a heart to partner with this pastor and help the local churches and kids. In early 2008, God provided a wonderful plot of land in Serenje, Zambia - the future site for the Hope Children's Center. Later that year, Zack Ludwig and Randy Brekke moved to Zambia to oversee the building of the center.
In June 2009, the Hope Children's Center Officially opened and started serving meals to 50 elementary age children. HCC is not a live in orphanage. Instead, it supports the local families by provided a healthy meal 6 days a week to double orphans (both parents have died), single orphans (one parent has died), and vulnerable children.
(The multipurpose building that houses offices, an open air cafeteria, a kitchen, and 2 classrooms.)
And from HCC, bags of maize and beans are distributed 4 times a year to 130 orphans in the surrounding area.
(Maize being distributed to children in the bush areas.)
The Hope Children's Center is also a base for Pastor Training and Church Planting - which is the true heart and gifting of Pastor Navice. HCC hosts quarterly pastor's trainings, some lead by US teachers and some lead by Zambians.
(Pastor Jeff leading a Pastor's Training)
Under the direction of Marlin Rice, the agriculture program called Z-8 was formed. Z-8 comes from Zechariah 8:12-13 (The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.) and is a prayer of hope, that the land would produce abundant food for the orphans (as Marlin put it).
The staple food for Zambians in Maize (white corn) which they grind and make into a mashed potato type substance. This is called Nshima. So at HCC, they are growing maize, fresh fruits and vegetables, and groundnuts (peanuts) for protein. Annually, the food grown has allowed HCC to add more children to the program without increasing the budget. The goal is to grow enough food to feed the children and generate money from sales of extra food to pay for the work itself.
(Marlin with the bags of maize from the HCC harvest.)
We can't forget to also mention a big partner in all this work - Brookside Church of Omaha. Not only did God moved in their hearts in a HUGE way when they took an offering and raised $130,000 to help build the Hope Center, but they have continued to work hand in hand with Cornerstone by helping the children with schooling through their "Back to School" program and sending teachers for Pastor's Trainings once a year.
(Some of the kids in their school uniforms.)
There are so many great stories of the miracles God has worked in and through HCC, and just as many wonderful pictures in the past blog posts. So explore for yourself and see what God has done.
Here are some ways you can pray for HCC:
1. Pray for the Z-8 program, that the gardens and crops would produce a bountiful harvest with which to feed the orphans. Planting season starts in November, so this is a very time appropriate request!
2. Pray for the children! Even with the regular food, there is still much sickness. In the past month, one of the children from the bush, who was receiving food quarterly, died from sickness. Pray for their physical strength, but just as urgently, pray for their spiritual growth and maturity.
3. Pray for the Pastors and Church leaders who attend the quarterly trainings. Pray for their faith to grow and be deepened. And pray for them, and Pastor Navice, as they are continually planting new churches in unreached areas.
4. Pray for the Zambian leaders of this project. For any work to last long term, it has to be "owned" by the locals. Much of Africa operates on a survival mentality, because life is harsh and the day to day needs are hard to meet. So planning ahead and working towards bigger goals has been a challenge. Pray for mature leadership and sound decisions as the project moves forward.