Above are some pictures of some of the kids at the care centers.
As missionaries we are required to make some sacrifices in order to minister in another country and culture, but I was recently impressed by the sacrifice the Nigerian leaders of City Ministries CARE Centers (Children at Risk Educational) make to minister to orphans.
City Ministries runs six of these centers in Jos and surrounding towns that reach out to over 200 orphans and street children. Recently, I (Richard) toured several of these centers to assess construction issues so that we can develop a prioritize list of projects for all of the centers.
The centers are very basic even by African standards. Some are in the city and some are in rural locations. The leaders of these centers must make great sacrifices in terms of living conditions, salary and many times are required to spend their small salaries on school fees, medical fees, or food for the children. It was humbling to see the sacrifice they make for these children.
The children in these centers are primarily boys and most are true orphans. Some are from single parent families where the parent is not able or not willing to care for them. Some of the children have been reconciled back to parents or other guardians and leave the centers. The children’s ages run from about 6 years to 18 years old. They are typical children and loved to play soccer (football here) and other games. A soccer ball and a deck of Uno cards brought hours of enjoyment during our trip.
Since African culture is very family orientated I asked one of the leaders why a child’s extended family did take them in and care for them. He had several answers; in some cases the extended family is not interested in caring for the child, or they may be unable to care for them since they are barely making it themselves. The other answer was that extended family sometimes take the child merely to gain the land they inherited, once they have the land the child is discarded. So while family is important in the African culture it is far from perfect and many children fall through the cracks when parents die.
The care centers provide housing, food, clothing, basic medical care, education (either at the center or in a public school) and spiritual discipleship. City Ministries has a missionary nurse and doctor who make the rounds to the centers to check on the kids. They also have someone who keeps track of education issues for the children. My job is to keep up with the construction issues and provide the best facilities that the ministry can afford. Most of these centers need significant improvements of there facilities. There is also a desire to open additional centers in other towns.
Currently most of the funds for the ministry come from Europe and the USA. The Nigerian church has not caught the vision of supporting this work financially. The good news is that all of the ministries are run by Nigerians. There is a large Nigerian staff doing most of the work.
Please pray for the staff members and that the Nigerian church would begin to support this work financially. Pray also for the kids as many come from difficult, non-Christian backgrounds.
We will try to upload more pictures of these centers, but a high speed internet connection is not very convenient. We are definitely not in the US when it comes to high speed internet.