“There are two types of people in the world: those with hope and those without,” says B.J. Wolstenholme of Calgary, Alberta.
“[There are] men sitting on porches because there is nothing to do, no job prospects, no reasonable expectations that anything will change, because nothing has changed in the past. These people hedge their bets by not reaching out for new ideas, for new relationships, for new hopes that have yet to be realized. They’re content with the status quo.
“Then there are those who are willing to try something new for the chance of a good reward. They try new techniques; they learn new things; they share. They are doing something to improve their lot.”
The people of Kamanzi, Malawi, are an example of the latter. And the people of New Hope Church in Calgary are hoping to learn from them. Through the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), the two groups have formed a partnership to support each other, learn from each other, and grow as communities in Christ.
The relationship began last year. New Hope approached CRWRC with an interest in going beyond church offerings and support for CRWRC’s World Hunger Campaign to develop a relationship with a community in need.
CRWRC staff identified the community of Kamanzi, just west of Lilongwe, Malawi, as a good candidate. There was a level of need that New Hope Church could respond to, but Kamanzi was also already taking steps to improve itself and would be a good partner.
Through CRWRC’s local partner, Nkhoma Relief & Development, the community already had five women’s groups that were meeting regularly, learning to read, and supporting each other with small loans. The people of Kamanzi were also working to prevent malaria in their community.
In May 2009, four people from New Hope Church traveled to Malawi to visit Kamanzi and meet with community members to decide on how their partnership should move forward.
“Our goals in forming relationships with a church or community overseas are to deepen connections between Christians, to allow for learning from each other about what life is like in a different country or culture, and then to become involved in the other’s efforts to make each community closer to the vision that God has for them,” said CRWRC staff member Crystle Numan.
At the end of the two-week trip, a partnership agreement had been written up that included plans for New Hope Church to assist Kamanzi in building latrines, providing food for orphans at the community nursery school, providing loans of seed to community members, and running a revolving goat program to provide goats to needy families. The agreement also included plans for letters, stories, and prayers to be shared back and forth between the two groups in order to build relationships and learn from each other.
CRWRC is working with Christian Reformed World Missions, Back to God Ministries International, and Partners Worldwide to offer more of these global partnerships to congregations in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit the interagency website on global partnerships: www.crcna.org/igps.
Glorifying God Through Goats
Because of goats, Zakka Chomock sees John 3:16 in a new light.
“Because God so loved, he gave,” said Chomock, regional team leader for CRWRC’s ministry in southern Africa. “We love the poor, so we also give. And the transforming power of what you give is amazing.”
Chomock saw the transformational impact that goats can have on the lives of those who receive them as he participated in an evaluation of CRWRC’s work, including the goat project, with the Reformed Church of Mozambique.
In Mozambique the goat project is funded through donations from people in North America. Goats are given to families in need; when offspring from those goats are born, the baby goats are given to another family in the community.
“Those who received a goat have shared that the goats are producing milk for orphans and vulnerable children, providing manure to grow more and better crops, and meeting other needs within the family,” reported Chomock.
But the impact of the goats goes much further. Because the goat program is administered through the local Reformed Church of Mozambique, it is also a testimony about Christ’s love for those in the community. Just ask Kenelessi Phiri.
After Phiri’s wife was chosen to receive a goat, he was so touched by the gift that—even though the community knew he didn’t attend church—he decided to start going. Today he is an elder with the Reformed Church of Mozambique.
“If that is what Christianity is all about, I wanted to go to church,” he said.
In total, the Mozambique project has provided goats to 1,236 families over the past seven years. Because these families then gave goats to others in need, the impact and Christian witness is even greater.
“It’s amazing how God uses the ordinary to express the extraordinary,” Chomock says.
About the Author
Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.