Sometimes, God does such a mighty work in our midst that we are left in awe and amazement!
Mary, the new mother of the baby Jesus, certainly experienced this.
Shepherds, who had encountered an angel, came to the humble Bethlehem stable where the Christ Child was lying in a manger. They had been told that a Savior, the anticipated Messiah, Christ the Lord had been born.
Imagine their excitement when they saw this baby for themselves! The Hebrew people had been longingly waiting for his appearance for hundreds of years.
What did they do? What you and I would do!
Scripture says, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:17-18).
Mary, however, had a slightly different reaction. Luke 2:19 tells us, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
I, too, have witnessed a mighty movement of God unfolding on the African continent.
On one hand, I am filled with wonder and gratitude. On the other, like Mary, I’m treasuring what I’ve seen firsthand, and pondering these things in my heart.
The first thing that I’m aware of is the HUGE impact that child sponsorship is having in the lives of 2,736 kids who are currently sponsored through Horizon.
I witnessed the awesome transformation that’s happening in the lives of our sponsored kids in a rather dramatic way while leading a Vision Tour of our orphan care ministries this Fall in Uganda and Ethiopia.
We visited two Children’s Clubs of 50 kids each in Natete, a marginalized area of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. There was quite a contrast in the overall health of the kids in the two Clubs.
In the older of the two Clubs, there are 32 sponsored kids out of 50. These kids are receiving food parcels, clothing, and they are enrolled in school. They are literally thriving.
There are no kids sponsored in the second Club. They are surviving on the HOPE of someday being sponsored. Malnutrition is common, clothing that Goodwill wouldn’t accept is the norm, and going to school is a dream yet-to-be realized.
I am grateful to God for the 2,736 kids that Horizon is able to sponsor. I am pondering over how Horizon can be even more effective in creating a world of hope through these sponsored kids.
Another thing that I’m aware of is that Horizon’s ministry is touching thousands of kids who are attending our Children’s Clubs, but who aren’t yet sponsored.
In a follow-up phone call to our East Africa Vision Tour with Bishop Silas Atugonza, the leader of 375 partner churches in Uganda, it was confirmed that there are 50,000 orphans living in the communities where these congregations reside.
Through the efforts of our Horizon Uganda team, Children’s Clubs have been formed in 200 of these churches. Approximately 15,000 orphans are meeting every week for worship and Bible study.
There are similar stories in Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
While I celebrate the amazing spiritual impact of Horizon’s ministry in the lives of our precious kids, I carry the daily burden of how to get more of them sponsored.
I’m thankful for Tony Wolf, a Horizon child sponsorship recruiter who represents us in churches when he’s not traveling with Mercy Me.
I’m also looking forward to our Kuyasa Kids Choir Tour next September and October, 2019 when many more African children will be sponsored.
Our team is also excited about completing the transition to our new Donor Direct Data Base system in the near future, which will enable us to grow child sponsorships organically through our existing Horizon network.
We are also committed to raising up more strategic partner churches here in America that can provide a source of child sponsorships in a particular area of Africa.
Still, I ponder and pray over what else we can do.
I’m also increasingly aware of the spiritual impact that our orphan care ministry is having in the lives of both our sponsored and unsponsored kids, their caregivers, and some of the more than 1,500 African congregations that look to Horizon for leadership.
Last August, Horizon Zambia sponsored its annual Kid’s Camp; 230 youth participated. Twenty of these kids responded to the invitation to be baptized, joining the nearly 100 who have been baptized in the last two years.
A Women of Worth GO Team led a conference in October for 600 women in Rugendabara, Kasese District, Uganda. Many women made first-time decisions to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
As this Christmas season approaches, I’m pondering what could happen if Horizon sponsors Kid’s Camps, Women’s Caregiver Conferences, and Pastor’s Training Workshops in every region of Africa where we work on an annual basis.
I’m also realizing the transformational impact that Horizon is having through its University Scholarship Endowment Fund.
During 2018, 17 of our recent high school graduates received full scholarships to attend an African university of their choice.
One of these delightful young adults is Yulenda Makola from Sekgopo Village in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Yulenda knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a nurse, following her mother’s passing in 2001 when she was five years of age. She once stated:
“I want to be a nurse because my mother was suffering from asthma and she didn’t have that care, a medical care, so I took it from then that for the rest of my life I want to take good care of people like my mother who don’t have care.”
Yulenda is now completing her third and final year of studies at Thupophelo
Private Nursing College in Pretoria. Next year, she will continue her nursing studies at the top medical school in the country of South Africa.
I’m pondering over what will happen through our scholarship recipients when they graduate and enter the work force as Christ followers in their respective countries.
Here’s what I do know!
God is continuing to expand the harvest that He wants to give Horizon. In many respects, we are only just beginning to enter into our God-given missional destiny.
In order to do so, though, we must end the year with a strong financial response to our Foundational Fund.
The Foundational Fund makes it possible for Horizon to administer its child sponsorship and GO Team ministries, support our African partners with what they need to fulfill their orphan care calling, and administer university scholarships.
As you consider your Christmas and Yearend giving, will you consider making a generous donation to the all-important Foundational Fund?
Mary pondered in her heart the great work that God would do through her baby!
I’m pondering over what God is going to do in 2019 through Horizon because of a strong Foundational Fund.
Grateful for the Christ Child and you,
Founder and President
The Foundational fund allows all of our other ministries to happen.