Zambia (MNN) — In Zambia, out of a population of 11 million, well over 1 million are orphans. Every Orphan's Hope has been focused in Zambia for the last six years and is working to lower these numbers and bring the love of Christ to orphaned children.
"Our goal and our mission is really to encourage and equip the church to respond to these orphans who've been left behind," says Every Orphan's Hope Gary Schneider. "We want to be relevant to them, to share the love of Christ with them, and to help meet some of the basic physical needs and challenges that these children face day to day."
One of the ways Every Orphan's Hope meets these goals is through their Camp Hope bible camps. These summer camps provide an opportunity for orphans to be taught about Christ, as well as to be provided with sponsorship. After the camps are over, local churches follow up on the orphans and continue to pour the love of Christ into them. So far, the program has been effective. "It's really seeing transformation brought."
The organization may not be able to work so closely with these orphans if it were not for a supportive government. "Zambia is enjoying about 40 years of stabilized government, democratic process, and even recently we've seen some economic growth," says Schneider. "We have received a lot of access and support from the government–not necessarily financial support, but them cutting through red tape–really seeing the church as a key stake holder in raising up this generation of orphans."
Government cooperation with the church allows Every Orphan's Hope to attend to physical needs of orphans, but also the more important spiritual needs.
"Most importantly, the church is feeling equipped and prepared to go out and deal with the bigger spiritual issue, which is just a fatalistic view of life," says Schneider. "There's not a lot of hope. One of the tasks and goals of Every Orphan's Hope is to equip the church to be messengers of hope to those young people, and to let them know that Jesus Christ is every orphan's hope."
With this in mind, Schneider notes that "there is still a tremendous amount of work to do." Fortunately, the stability of the government provides wonderful conditions for other believers to come alongside these orphans and make a difference.
"It's so important for the body of Christ to respond. We find a church in Zambia that has the hands and the feet and even the heart, but they lack so much resource," notes Schneider. "It's vital to see that partnership in the body of Christ between churches in the West and churches in the affected and infected areas, like Zambia."
Every Orphan's Hope has multiple ways for you to help. Your congregation can support a local Zambian church. You could also sponsor a child or pay for their Camp Hope fee this summer. Every Orphan's Hope is still looking for volunteers to work at a Camp Hope bible camp in Zambia this summer, as well. To participate in any of these, click here.
Every Orphan's hope has several other exciting initiatives in place right now that deal specifically with victims of HIV/AIDS. To learn more about these, visit Mission Network News again tomorrow for Part Two of this three-part series.