This special issue of World At Your Door features stories and updates from our very latest Year in Review issue of mosaic magazine, looking at where your contributions have made all the difference over the past year. CBM Executive Director Terry Smith shares, “The challenges our global community has faced this past year have been immense – in all of these circumstances we know that God is working and moving his people to respond. And we never lose hope in the Risen Lord and the powerful message of love and reconciliation with which we as his Church, have been entrusted.” Read on to see examples of people and communities you have impacted over the last 365 days! Be sure to read the full magazine to get the full stories!
Pastor Simon was shot and nearly died when fighting erupted in his homeland of South Sudan. While the war had torn his body and world apart, it did not destroy his faith. Although he lost his left leg, by God's grace Pastor Simon survived and was able to recover for two months in a Juba hospital where he received a prosthetic limb.
"We lost everything," shares Pastor Simon. "All our belongings had been stolen, many died and our home was no longer safe. It was very bad. With my family we travelled to Kakuma [a large refugee camp in northern Kenya]. We did not come alone. Thousands of us came…soon we began to meet together for prayer and worship."
Today there are more than 800 members worshipping in Pastor Simon's church, and 2,000 more in two of the other churches that CBM’s church partner in South Sudan, Faith Evangelical Baptist Church (FEBAC), has established in the camp. Most are widows and orphans. “The people are supportive of one another and we have not lost our faith,” says Pastor Simon. “Please pray for the orphans and widows of our church. We are doing our best for each other, but the needs are so great."
Sixteen-year-old Raju has faced many heart-breaking challenges in his young life. His father died when he was one. Raju’s mom struggled to provide for her two children, but they ended up moving in with their grandparents. A few years later, when he was 10 years old, Raju also lost his mom. It’s believed that both his parents died of AIDS. Raju and his older sister went to live with an uncle and his family. It was an added financial burden and Raju eventually had to drop out of school and work in the fields as a seasonal labourer to help earn family income.
A few years later, his sister moved out after she got married. Raju’s plight came to the attention of a local volunteer worker with Guardians of Hope (GOH). Both he and his sister were tested and were relieved to discover that they do not have the disease. Besides counselling and visits of encouragement, GOH gave a small grant of 4,000 rupees ($80 CDN) to help the family start a vegetable stand.
His aunt continues to run the small business and Raju hopes that one day soon he will be able to return to school. He would like to become a businessman, buying and selling rice and products. He offers words of encouragement and advice to others who face similar challenges: “Don’t get discouraged. There is this program that can help you…They have helped me so much and because of this I can help my uncle and he is taking good care of me. In the same way, this program is helping many other people like me.”
In China, large numbers of rural children have been left in the care of grandparents, or other family members who are often too poor to provide adequate care. Why? Their parents, about 274 million (http://bit.ly/1EFAOnF) migrant workers, have gone to the big cities for work. Many of these children face emotional pain, as they miss their parents who are often gone for almost a year at a time. In response to this great need, a Student Services Centre was opened in January 2014 and then a year later, a second centre.
“One of our students, Andy (not his real name) an 11-year-old boy who’s being raised by his grandparents, was a very mischievous child who liked to fight with others and was always breaking the heart of his grandmother,” shares staff member Ping. “This child was often overlooked and misunderstood, and he thought that everything he did was wrong. He was like a broken jar. Every Saturday he would ride his bicycle to the Centre to participate in our program. We used games, a sharing time and prizes to encourage him and let him know that he is a special and excellent boy. With our attention, care and understanding, he has slowly changed and is growing up to be a sensitive and generous person who is willing to help others. We have become his family. We hope that every child who comes to this Centre will grow up happy, and live each day to the fullest.”
Another staff member Xiang Jiao shares, “They discovered that they are not alone. Now they are very different. Now they can play together, and they openly share with us their hurts and their joys. When there is an argument, they are the first to apologize. They are willing to forgive and embrace others…and they are attracting many other children to join…causing us to have more new friends and family. I am thankful for them…they have shown me that if we want change to happen, we must first change ourselves.”