Reverend Mark of the Free Methodist Church in Zambia has been ministering to youth in the impoverished community of Msisi over the course of the pandemic. The town of Msisi is characterized by high levels of robbery, alcohol and drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse of women and children, prostitution, poverty, unemployment, and poor sanitation. To say it is a difficult place to minister would be an understatement.
On top of the social problems, this overcrowded settlement is often hit by floods during the rainy season. Like most corners of the world, Msisi was not spared the devastations of the corona virus pandemic. And yet, it is here in Msisi that pastor Mark has found his calling to bring hope to the most vulnerable in a time when the youth are desperate for any form of hope.
With the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, many parents and caretakers in Msisi encountered challenges in providing for their children because of lost work when the pandemic hit Zambia. Reverend Mark knew he couldn’t sit idly and watch as young people and families suffered. He recognized that the church was critically positioned to help the youth and help provide education around preventing them from making poor choices during the pandemic. But he wondered, what was the best way to reach them now?
Reverend Mark learned of the parenting tips WWO was promoting through the local NGO Forgotten Voices. As he read the colorful parenting tips he discovered that the tips were extremely helpful considering the new challenges they were facing in Zambia. He now felt he had a tool he could use for both the families and the youth in this community to share not only about how to protect against COVID-19 but also how families could begin to build stronger relationships.
Reverend Mark now meets with the youth once a month for Bible teachings and important discussions on issues like drug abuse and early marriages. They also have time for athletics and host sessions that help the youth identify their skills and potential that will help them as they plan for the future.
One such testimony of change is *Marie, a young girl in the youth group who was raped by a close relative. After the trauma she experienced Marie stopped attending school. She couldn’t talk to any man because of the abuse she suffered as she viewed all men as evil. Thankfully, she was not left to walk through her trauma alone. Through counselling and spiritual nurture offered through the services Reverend Mark’s team makes available, Marie has been able to make steps forward in healing from the trauma. She even has gone back to school. Mark and his team see this as a huge victory, and they are grateful for the resources they have been able to use thanks to WWO.
In a community like Msisi, the church is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people. This is why World Without Orphans is passionate about partnering with local leaders like Reverend Mark and equipping them to solve their own country’s orphaned and vulnerable children crisis.
*Name has been changed