...I’ve thought about how to tell you this story for the last three months, and I think the simplest place to start is at the beginning. There was a woman named Heidi who, along with her husband Rolland, traveled to Mozambique, Africa, in 1995 to see about helping the poor within the country. Within a few days, Heidi was offered by the government an orphanage that no one else could support and that no one else wanted. The 80 children who lived there were impoverished and underfed. The building was dilapidated and neglected. With a great measure of faith, Heidi and Rolland accepted the mission to take on the care of these children, bringing in teams to care for them and help build up the orphanage again, slowly but surely. When the number of children in their care reached 320, however, they were evicted by the government. The children and Heidi and Rolland were marched off the property without a home to go to.
But quickly, provision flowed in from all over the world, allowing Heidi and Rolland to continue to care for the children. Land was donated by a nearby city for a new space, tents by the country of South Africa. Soon, they had enough money to build dorms for the children. In the midst of these difficulties, coupled with devastating floods of 2000, the children thrived and actual miracles broke out in their midst as well as in the neighboring bush. A church spontaneously came together, and then hundreds, and then a thousand churches: today, there is a safety net of church-based orphan care in the 10 provinces of Mozambique. In addition to care for multitudes of children, ministries to widows and single mothers are in place to help families stay as in-tact as possible. Heidi and Rolland’s ministry bases all over the world are today known as Iris Ministries. They are staffed and supported by natives as well as long-term and short term foreign missionaries.That is their story, but here is my own: I first heard Heidi’s assistant speak about the work they were doing in Mozambique many years ago. Something inside my heart leapt when I heard of the children and the way those who served them in the most distressing of environmental and economic circumstances witnessed provision, joy, and love become the fruit of their prayers and efforts. I also understood how much help and support was welcomed and needed for an operation like this. A year ago, when a friend traveled to the base at Pemba where 200 children reside, I felt the same stirring, and I felt I should get ready to go someday soon. The opportunity has presented itself to go this year for three weeks, in July, with my daughter Una (she’s excited to play with the children and love on them), along with a team from the Kingdom Sending Center in Elgin, IL. The KSC team will be preparing us thoroughly on the nuts and bolts of traveling to Mozambique and all of the factors we need to prepare ourselves with in regard to travel to a foreign country and to Mozambique, specifically.
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