Posted on 2nd November 2015 at 12:22 by LCBC News in LCBC News Blog
Have you ever considered going on a holiday with a difference, joining a mission impact team to visit some charity projects in a 3rd world country? A team of 6 people from Long Crendon Baptist Church visited Swaziland in Southern Africa during October to see some of the work of Challenge Ministries Swaziland. I hope that this account of the trip encourages others to get involved.
Swaziland is a beautiful country with a great road network. The people are very friendly and visitors feel very safe. Swaziland does not look like a place that needs help. However, HIV/AIDS has decimated the population over the last 20 years and Swaziland now ranks number 1 in the world for AIDS with a population that has declined to below 1 million. Life expectancy has dropped from over 60 to around 30 and only ¼ people will live to 50. There are several hundred thousand orphans in the country.
This is where Potter's Wheel Church and Challenge Ministries come in. They have a dream to change their country by taking in orphans, giving them the best education and raising them to become future leaders in government, in education, in business and in churches. They disciple people and then send them out to do good works in their community. Challenge Ministries own a farm called Hawane Farm where they run agricultural projects and life skills courses for their students. They run men's and women's refuge centres, caring for ex-addicts and homeless people. They set up what they call In Community by Community (ICBC) projects, teaching local communities to help themselves. This includes running orphanages, planting churches and setting up businesses.
Most impressively, they have bought a disused mining town in the North of Swaziland called Bulembu, described in the Lonely Planet guide as a ghost town. The vision is incredible. Take an old town full of dilapidated old buildings and convert the buildings into homes, schools, healthcare clinics and businesses. Fill each home with a widow and 6-7 orphans and create an infrastructure that cares for them. Develop businesses (they currently have logging, honey, dairy, water bottling and a bakery along with other agricultural projects) and you can generate income to care for the orphans and widows. The Bulembu vision is to be completely self sustaining by 2020. Christ is at the heart of all that they do and there are Christian volunteers from all over the world teaching in the schools, running the businesses and working in the clinic. Currently Bulembu houses 400+ children, eventually they will have capacity for over 2000.
We were in Swaziland for ten days. Hopefully all of us leave in some way changed. Seeing the hardship of other people’s lives puts our own into perspective. We live in a safe country with good healthcare, warm houses and plenty of food. It is good to go back with a greater realisation of how much God has blessed us.
I suspect that most of us will come back to Bulembu very soon. It has a way of capturing your heart.