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California Church Helps Africa’s AIDS Orphans


Members of The River Christian Reformed Church, Redlands, Calif., have found a firsthand way to care for babies orphaned by AIDS in the small country of Lesotho in southern Africa.

Led by retired Christian Reformed minister Bill Bierlings and his wife, Harriet, a group of 23 church members, ranging in age from 16 to 72, spent two weeks in Lesotho. There they worked on the facilities of The Beautiful Gate, a care center for abandoned AIDS/HIV babies. The center is directed by Ray and Sue Haakonsen and receives funding from The River CRC.

The team cared for the children and painted the new chapel, also funded by The River CRC. The Haakonsens christened the new chapel “The River.”

The Bierlings spent four months at the center last year. Harriet Bierling said there are 137,000 orphans in Lesotho alone. The center opened in 2001 and has cared for more than 100 infants.

Bierling said that the Redlands congregation continues to support the orphanage in many ways. Last year members of the church made 100 quilts for the babies.

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