Zambia (MNN) — Life expectancy in Zambia has fallen to 33 years, making it the lowest in the world. One in every six adults is living with HIV. In addition, Zambia has over 700,000 AIDS orphans. That puts the future of the country in jeopardy.
World Hope's Joanne Lyon says they've identified 200 communities in Zambia that are fighting for a future. The strategy is unique. They have figured out a way to enable and empower the local communities to care for their own through economic development. The work is self-sustaining through participants raising and marketing vegetables and livestock, as well as selling hand-made clothing and needle work.
The ultimate goal? To help raise up the children to be godly, cultural influences in their communities, but they can't do it alone. "We have asked churches, or people, to partner with villages and help those villages to develop economically and spiritually. We need to be able then to bring in the AIDS orphans to live in that community, train caretakers for those AIDS orphans, as well as for those that are dying. We need also to be working on HIV/AIDS prevention."
While on a vision trip with the Hope Corps, one of the American pastors remarked, "The courage and resolve of the Zambian pastors helped me to see that the local church is the hope of the world. My local church needs to ramp up ministries of mercy here."
Lyon agrees. She says churches have been taking ownership of the sponsorships, and explains, "I'm very happy to report that we had 200 opportunities for villages, and we're now at 53."
Supporting an outreach project like this has a unifying effect. At $12,000 (USD), the price tag may seem to put it beyond the reach of some, but it's evident that churches are plowing ahead and committing to a village sponsorship on faith.
Lyon states, "The pastors have told me that their churches have tripled (in size), and one of the pastors told me that the power of God has become so strong in their community, that they have now put the witch doctors out of business."