By Denford Munemo and Qobolwakhe Khumalo
God created us with a heart, eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet. ZOE (Zimbabwe Orphans through Extended Hands)
staff use these inspiring ideas below as part of their training to help church volunteers build supportive relationships with orphan families.
To see the soft brown hair and swollen hands and feet that speak of kwashiorkor (malnutrition due to a lack of protein and other nutrients)… To look into the child’s eyes and see ‘abuse’… To observe the home – the hole in the thatch, the absence of pots and pans etc…
To give messages of hope from the Bible and wise advice. To let families know what help and services are available in the community. To speak out and be a voice for the voiceless through advocacy.
To listen to the children and understand their pain… To listen to the old grandfather who now has six children in his care and knows he has four more on the way when his next son dies… To listen when no relative has asked: ‘How are you?’ or ‘How are the children?’ But now this volunteer comes to visit, and asks: ‘How many children are you caring for? How are they? How are you?’ This volunteer says they want to help in any way they can, and gives the old man a chance to talk for the first time in months. Then the volunteer asks if he can come back – and does come back!
A heart filled with love because of the cross of Jesus. A heart like God the Father’s, to love and care for orphans.
For practical help, such as mending thatch, preparing the ground for planting, teaching sewing or carpentry etc.
For taking messages, bringing supplies, escorting children to the clinic etc – as well as for playing sport and games!
God has given us these abilities to care for others and to reveal Jesus’ love. They are totally free! Church members can use these resources to begin to build a strong orphan care ministry. Could you make a copy of this blog and use it in your church?
This article appears in issue 101 of Footsteps magazine, published in January 2017, which is on the topic of caring for orphans. You can read Footsteps online, sign up to receive Footsteps regularly or contact us to order printed copies.
Denford Munemo is National Director of ZOE, and Qobolwakhe Khumalo is ZOE’s Programmes Manager.