Orphans & Widows
Intro and Goals
The continent of Africa has more orphans than any other continent. The problem isn’t getting any smaller despite the efforts that have been made to curb this tragedy. The crisis is massive and it will take the attention of the world to respond. AR is partnering with indigenous churches in the rescue and care of the most venerable in society; the widows and orphans. Many churches whom we are in relationship with are already caring for widows and orphans in their community. Many are providing supplemental care. ( food, clothing, rent money, school fees and school uniforms). Some of these homes are child headed homes that are unable to full fend for themselves and shouldn’t have to. Together with these local churches we are seeking to tackle this problem. Along with supporters like you we want to act in compassion and obedience. AR has a short and a long term approach to serving the orphan and the widow in Africa.
Currently our Vision Year teams partner with local churches that have responded to the need in their community by building orphan homes or providing supplemental care. AR comes alongside those already existing entities and supports the good work they are already doing. We provide man power and resources. Part of our goal is to envision our Vision Year teams with God’s heart for the orphan and widow. Through this experience team members learn about loving the orphan and widow. This is especially important for our African volunteers whom will return home to their African countries and initiate similar efforts. Long term, we aim at coming alongside our V.Y. Alums and supporting them with their orphan care projects with our Church Orphan Home model of care (see below).
Briefly described below are the different aspects of this Church Orphan Home model:
In Sub Sahara Africa no one else is better positioned to help the widow and the orphan then the local church!
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27
You would be hard pressed to find an established community in Africa that does not have a local church. There is almost no community you can go to that does not have a local church active as part of its community life. It is at this critical time, that we the Church must respond. It is undeniable that this is what God requires of us from scripture. This is one of the critical ways we live out our faith. This is how we love God back, by loving others. Not with noisy words but by paying attention to the things that are close to His heart. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” -Psalm 68:5
Here is an opportunity for us to get behind local churches in Africa that have a heart to live out the true Gospel, loving God and loving our neighbor. We believe that a local church, led by indigenous pastors together with their congregation, loving orphans, is a true testimony of the love of Christ. This unique church/home combination provides an effective means to meeting both the spiritual and physical needs of each orphan as well as addressing the felt needs of the community.
Moving away from traditional, institutional, orphanages the local churches aim to offer a family atmosphere based on love and compassion that is touched by the Word of God. Every home will share a building with the local church. The orphan children will live on the top level with the caregivers (Home to a capacity of 48 orphans and 10 widows), while the ground level is where the church and community meet. Along one side of the building are skills development rooms which are utilized as training class rooms etc.
The homes will provide beneficial, nurturing, holistic care to parentless infants, children, and adolescents while keeping them in a community they are familiar with.
Under the leadership of the elders and pastoral team, widows would be the principal caregivers in each church orphan home. As there are many widows and widowed Grandmothers in Africa, it has proved true that a child who just lost his or her parents is cared for by someone who knows their pain because they too have experienced loss. We would maintain a staff ratio of one caregiver for every five children, so you can be assured that a frightened child will be held and comforted by someone who cares.
Orphans come from various circumstances. Many of them have lost their parents due to sickness and diseases such as AIDS, TB, malaria or other failed health related causes. Many children become orphans because of war or abandonment. Many are led by child headed homes and in need of desperate help. We view these children, whom are left to wander the streets homeless and hopeless, as God’s most precious.
The church seeks to do holistic ministry and so strives to provide its community with basic skills to serve them in their quest for employment. Training and developing people through giving classes such as computer skills, small business skills, nutritional classes, budgeting and finance classes as well as after school tutoring are all critical needs in these communities. Along one side of the building are skills development rooms which are utilized for these purposes throughout the week and used as Sunday school class rooms and youth activity rooms during the weekend. It is in this area of service that we wish to see our interns transfer their skills to the church. It is here where they will spend their time pouring into the community.
Do something. Join the Revolution!
Pray with us as we wisely discern each step in fleshing out this vision for orphan care in Africa. Visit our support page to find out ways to donate to AR to help care for orphans and widows. If you are looking to build a partnership with an African church and Africa Revolution, please download our partnership proposal (PDF).