Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Expanding the Ministry

I have always had a policy to “start small and grow big”. Too often I’ve seen people rush into a ministry with great proposals which eventually fail because there was a lack of planning and also possibly because the time was not ripe for such a big ministry. Maybe I’m over-cautious, but I’ve seen better results where the work expands at a slower pace. (I must admit that I was surprised when I recently heard Wendy Kopp speaking at the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek in Chicago who said that she had exactly the opposite viewpoint – to rush in and do what she wanted to do in as big a way possible.)
Starting in 2005 with an AIDS conference in Swaziland, which was followed by the training of our first group of home-based caring volunteers in 2006, this ministry slowly but surely grew until where we are at the moment with ten group scattered around the southern region of Swaziland and 350 volunteers involved in the ministry. We are planning to train three more groups before the end of the year. A great deal of the responsibility for the work lies on my own shoulders (and someone was praying a while back that God would give me broader shoulders!) If we continue with home-based caring only, then we could probably handle ten or even more extra groups without too many problems. Each of these groups work independently to a certain extent and whether we meet once a month with ten coordinators or twenty coordinators, would have little impact on the effort put into the project.
But I’m becoming increasingly convinced that we will have to expand our ministry. Home-based caring is a necessary service within the almost hopeless situation which Swaziland is facing. But if the pandemic is not stopped, the population of Swaziland will be wiped out. Already the population is decreasing at an alarming rate, from around 1.3 million a few years ago to 947,000 according to the latest census. Predictions are that the population will be down to 800,000 by 2015 and that the number of orphans will have risen to 200,000! We therefore need to get involved with am affective prevention program. And for one person to effectively manage home-based caring and prevention is almost entirely impossible, taking into account that I am also a full-time pastor of a congregation.
But there is more to be done. Thousands of people in Swaziland are benefiting from the government’s ART (Anti-retroviral therapy) program. But as long as the patients do not have sufficient nutritious food to eat, the therapy will not be effective. We see people going onto ART, only to die within a few years. In Western countries people on ART are living 10, 15, 20 years or more. If we could find ways of obtaining food supplements to give to people on ART, a significant difference could be made in the lives of those people. But someone will have to take the responsibility to manage a program like this – finding funds, getting the supplements and ensuring that the people get it.
Then we still have to work on a more effective feeding program for orphans. We are already involved with this in one area, but this will also have to be expanded if we really want to be effective. And while we have the orphans gathered in one place after school to get food, why not appoint someone who can assist them with their homework to ensure a better education for them? Lack of education is one of the main causes for the rapid spreading of HIV infections.
It is clear why I said yesterday that we need a lot of wisdom to decide about the things we need to do in the future. At the same time, I’m excited if I think of the possibilities to expand our services to the communities and in such a way bring people to the realisation that we really DO care about them, mainly because we know that God cares about us – and about them.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - Posted by | AIDS, Health, HIV, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Mission, Poverty, Social issues, Support teams, Swaziland, Vision

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