On July 18th many people from different parts of the world celebrated Nelson Mandela's 91st birthday! What a tribute to a man who has come to epitomize struggle for justice and commitment to the poor and oppressed. He made a request that each person dedicate 67 minutes (67 representing the number of years of his political career that he dedicated to the struggle for justice) in service to the poor and vulnerable in their communities. According to the South African Human Sciences Research Fact Sheet, 57 percent of South Africans were living below the poverty line in 2001. Mandela's call brought the reality of poverty into the limelight and made it everyone's responsibility.
For us as Christians the message of Christ and the prophets is that solidarity with the poor represents our commitment to God. It is in honor to this call to selfless service and dedication to the poor and marginalized that I want to profile the work of four Zimbabweans who represent a spirit also found in many Christians who continue to bear witness to Christ by serving their communities in extremely difficult situations.
The first person I will profile is Lindani Nkala, a young man who works for Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Zimbabwe. His parents are founders of the ministry and the following is his story, vision, passion, and needs.
I grew up watching [my parents] reach out to children of all races and ages in their thousands! CEF is a part of my life and I want to devote myself to spiritually as well as socially improving the lives of children in Zimbabwe. Children have dignity and are made in the image of God. Our service to God requires that we teach children values and the Christian message so that they can live it and pass it on to the next generation. This is possible through support and knowledge gained from their elders who live out their faith and are examples of Christian living. I want all children regardless of race, ethnic group, or class to receive religious instruction for a better Zimbabwe, Africa, and world! This sounds positive but in my quest I face many challenges.
1. Children are hurting: 85 percent of children are in need of food aid and proper health care.
2. Children are lost: Over 60 percent of children in Zimbabwe lack sound Christian teaching and discipleship.
3. Children are abused: 49 percent of children in Zimbabwe are abused. This estimate changes on a weekly basis.
As a result my work is very challenging. I work in Bulawayo, which has a population of about 1.9 million people and 43.5 percent of this figure are children under the age of 16. The current economic environment is characterized by high inflation and unemployment; widespread poverty contributes to about 85 percent of the challenges children face.
I am currently reaching out to 4,500 children in Bulawayo with the assistance of 49 volunteers. The majority of these are youths with a passion for a better Zimbabwe in the years to come. I sometimes cry that God loves these volunteers who work so hard without receiving a cent (no remuneration) but give the little they have to see the evangelism pull through, resulting in many children being reached and helped!
1. A motor vehicle to travel to different sites.
2. A Web site for the ministry in order to communicate and share with the world what we are doing in Zimbabwe.
3. Finances for administration, maintenance of office, and related expenditure.
4. Office equipment such as computers, printers, fax machine, and photocopier.
5. Ministry equipment