The ministry team from the Grace Brethren church in Lititz, Penna. (Scott Distler, pastor) has just returned from the Central African Republic. Here is a portion of their report, as adapted from a team member’s diary on Pastor Distler’s daily blog:
Our final day in Africa started with worship, checking our luggage with Air France, and a trip out to the Orphan Welcome Center to meet as many sponsored children from Lititz as possible.
Let me take a moment and explain the difference between a Hand-in-Hand partnership and what goes on at the Orphan Welcome Center. Hand-in-Hand is a partnership between a church in North America and a Grace Brethren Church in the Central Africa Republic, outside the capital of Bangui. It may have up to 50 orphans that are taken care of (shelter, clothing, and food) by people in the African church, overseen by the leadership in the African church. The church in the States provides resources for a Christian education.
The Orphan Welcome Center is not an orphanage but rather a ministry center inside the capital of Bangui. The property is about an acre in size, surrounded by a wall, recently protected with razor wire. The razor wire was purchased by Grace Church, using excess Birthday Gift for Jesus funds.
During our visit we learned that prior to the razor wire there were several times bad guys climbed over the wall at night. One time the full-time guard was severely beaten trying to protect the property. The staff and missionaries are very thankful and relieved Grace Church was able and willing to provide this security and protection.
Inside the gated walls is a two-story building that contains multiple classrooms, administrative offices, a doctor’s office, and storage. Also on the property are the guard’s house, toilets, and a well. There is plenty of room for the children to run and play. This facility is used by the individually sponsored orphans that live in Bangui with other family members. These children either walk to school or are brought in by vans. Grace Church has purchased a new van with excess Birthday gift for Jesus funds. It should arrive very soon, and the school is more than ready to use it.
On our visit John received disturbing news that his child [the orphan he sponsors] Fiacre is not doing well. He is HIV positive and his body is starting to reject the meds he is currently taking. News like this really breaks your heart.
[We]were able to meet the child my parents sponsor, and our team was able to sit in on one of her classes. Then we presented soccer uniforms Lititz Christian School gave. Madame Alexandrine handed them out to boys who ran around the playground area in a line (picture attached). The rest of the students came out of their classrooms onto the balcony and porch and cheered. After some pictures of the boys, a group of girls came out wearing new uniforms that are being made for the students.
Those of you who are sponsoring an orphan are making a difference in the life of a special child. The Orphan Welcome Center is an incredible facility, run and staffed by Africans who are teaching, discipling, and caring for these orphans.