Africa (MNN) — There are an estimated three million orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly half of them suffer from AIDS.
The good news? They don’t have to suffer in silence. Christ’s Hope, a ministry with a large international presence, is working to give children hope by fighting the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
“Christ’s Hope International is an organization that works with children infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS,” says Christ’s Hope’s Glenn Vantieghem. They also work with “children who really live in extreme poverty, whereby if there is no external source of help, there is no hope.”
There are many reasons why children affected by HIV or AIDS lack hope, Vantieghem says. Besides physical suffering, they’re often ostracized by their community or family, abused, and viewed as a curse. But the biggest problem, Vantieghem says, is often unnoticed.
“The most difficult thing is when these children get faced with a parent who has AIDS, or themselves they have AIDS: if an organization comes alongside, too often the first response is to put these children in an orphanage, to try and help,” Vantieghem says. “I understand that, that people have good intentions.
“But I think that’s really the biggest danger that these children have: other people come and make decisions in their lives, take the children away from their community, away from their family, trying to help them, but in reality not really helping them.”
This is one of the reasons why Christ’s Hope was founded. The idea began with a man named Jos Holtzhausen, the country director for Youth For Christ in Namibia. But after noticing so many young children orphaned by HIV and AIDS, he began helping them himself.
“It came to a point where there was so much focus on children, whereby Youth For Christ is much more focused on [older] youth. So it became a problem to do both under that name,” Vantieghem says. “The leadership for Youth For Christ basically said, ‘Either you redirect these activities toward youth, or you pray and think about starting a new organization.’ And that’s what they did. That’s how in 2003, Christ’s Hope International got started.”
Since then, it has transformed into a large, multi-faceted International organization. And it’s involved in every facet of the ministry process, from the sending of God’s people to the carrying out His work.
“We work in two types of countries,” Vantieghem says. “We have countries in the so-called Western World that mobilize people and resources, that send teams over to countries on the African Continent where we actually do the ministry. In Africa, we are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Namibia, in South Africa, in Swaziland, in Kenya, in Tanzania, and in Uganda. We have offices in the U.S., in Canada, in Belgium, France, Germany, the UK, and in the Netherlands.”
Christ’s Hope is making a difference, and you can help. There are a variety of ways you can get involved, whether by praying, giving, or going. Click here to get started.
“The most important thing is really prayer, where people commit to time regularly and pray for this ministry. Ultimately if God doesn’t work through us, if we’re not focused on Him and we don’t let ourselves be used by Him, then we don’t get anywhere,” Vantieghem says.