In 2014 I had the pleasure of visiting the Pine Valley ICBC project and meeting the wonderful founders Moses and Lindiwe. Surrounded by beautiful green hills was Noah’s Ark, a children’s centre where a feeding centre is set up twice a week for needy children from the surrounding area who are invited to eat and take part in a bible session. The centre was bustling with life when we arrived as the children had already begun their session and were singing heartily. Rosie and I joined the teachers to present a fun lesson on the fruits of the Spirit, for which I performed a mime and then children learned actions for the 9 fruits. We had fun listening to them translate, and adapted so that they could shout them in English and Siswati while doing their actions. ‘Lutsandza, Love! Nekujabula, Joy!’
Afterwards the children quietly made a huge line in age order, politely received their lunch and then washed their own dish after eating their tasty rice and beans. Lindiwe then gave us a bowl of the delicious food and was coaxed by her husband to tell us her beautiful story.
While growing up in very challenging circumstances, Lindiwe played with sticks as if they were dolls, playing at taking care of them and putting them to bed. She had a dream in her heart about taking care of children one day. Then after being sent into the town alone and injured, at a very young age with no family members willing to care for her any more and only a few rand to survive, she eventually met Pastor Moses and they fell in love, married and began to live out caring for the orphaned and vulnerable children within their reach. Lindiwe and Moses bubble over with joy as they tell their story with obvious love of Jesus and His heart for the lost and broken.
But the envisioned couple wanted to do more than just feed the children at intervals, seeing that many of them were in desperate circumstances and urgently needed care, like so many filling the nation of Swaziland. Knowing that doing their part is worth it, they had set out to build a children’s home and showed us its empty shell. Gradually furniture began to be provided and things took shape, ready for the six most needy children from those they had built trust with.
When I returned in 2015 with my family it was an absolute joy to go back to Pine Valley and see that they had, in just over a year, successfully launched the children’s home, taking in the six girls, and not only that but two more recently and a plan to increase to ten or more in future. Our girls ran to play with these beautiful children, oblivious of the horrific circumstances they had been through, and enjoyed a happy afternoon in the African sun, laughing and finding ways to communicate when language was a slight obstacle but not a barrier! Seeing the progress that had taken place was just wonderful.
Noah’s Ark is just one of several In Community By Community projects (ICBC’s) where local pastors with a vision to care for orphans and widows, and serve the community through the church, healthcare and education, have been able to partner with Challenge Ministries (CMS) to pursue these common goals. Everywhere I look when encountering CMS I see evidence of what the Bible calls ‘true religion’ in James 1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” To find out more about the ICBC’s and the superb work of CMS, visit www.challengeministriesswaziland.org