Right now, because of your gifts and prayers, vulnerable children in Zimbabwe are being recruited and selected to participate in ZOE, a unique empowerment program.
This year, the Congregation is sponsoring two groups of vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. One group is sponsored with budgeted funds and the second with gifts from the Empowerment Ministries fund. The formation of the groups takes several months. When ZOE first enters a community to help children, they begin by engaging the local leaders. ZOE staff members explain how ZOE is an empowerment program, helping the children to help themselves. Although this is often a different approach than local leaders are accustomed to, it resonates with leaders who want to see sustainable change in their village. ZOE staff members, who are indigenous to each country in which ZOE operates, understand local customs, challenges, and resources available so when they meet with the community leaders they quickly gain trust and support.
The first months with ZOE are truly unlike anything the children have ever experienced. Many will have come to the first meeting expecting some kind of a handout – clothing, food. Others will have come reluctantly, thinking it might be just another headcount of desperate children that so many NGO’s and government agencies have conducted before. Their disappointment at not receiving immediate goods is replaced by the belief that their entire life is about to change. They leave that first meeting eager to start working together and often will invite others to be part of this opportunity.
During the first meeting the youth elect leaders, make rules to guide their meetings, chose a group name, and decide when and where to hold weekly gatherings. In the subsequent six months, the children begin training on the topics of food security, health and disease prevention, business management, and child rights. If they have access to land they are provided with seeds to start gardens and plant crops; if they have a trade skill they receive immediate grants to start a small business. If siblings are not attending school, ZOE provides uniforms and other resources to get them back into classes; older children may begin vocational training. Most importantly, all experience God’s love through the work of ZOE staff and your prayers.
Thank you for your gifts to the Congregation’s budget. Thank you for your gifts to the Empowerment Ministries Fund. Thank you for your prayers on behalf of our ministries both locally and globally. Your gifts and your prayers are an essential part of our corporate ministry which make a real, lasting, and positive impact on the lives of others.
With gratitude for your faithfulness,
P.S. If you want to meet "our" children, I invite you to travel to Zimbabwe in 2019.