Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Rotarians Cheri McDaniel (Rotary Club of Baton Rouge—Capital City) and Daran Rehmeyer (Rotary Club of Mbabane, Swaziland) have created the Rotary Heart of America – Save Swaziland’s Children Fund, a Donor Advised Fund, to help build a school, clinic and community center to serve children and families devastated by the AIDS epidemic in the remote villages of Maphiveni and Vuvulane, Swaziland.
Daran and his wife Teresa packaged up their home and sold their business in 2005 and moved with their young children to Swaziland.
Teresa recalls, after a two week visit, “God broke my heart for Swaziland.” Swaziland suffers from the world’s highest HIV/ AIDS rate and the lowest life expectancy, 32 years. The children bear the burden of having lost parents, aunts and uncles, often leaving the oldest child in the family as the head of the household. Too many children also struggle to survive with HIV/AIDS. Untreated, only 15% of these children will live to age 10.
The Rehmeyers, an engineer and a nurse, created a program to transport HIV/AIDS patients to a medical center to get life-saving medications, a necessary measure, but not a long-term sustainable solution.
To create that solution, the Rehmeyers have identified an unused four acre property with 30,000 square feet of buildings. It will be redeveloped to serve as a medical clinic, vocational school and commercial center. The plans include storefronts that will be leased to local entrepreneurs, improving the economic base of the villages. The rents will also help underwrite the cost of running the health and education center. In addition to providing medical care, the center will teach local leaders and workers about disease prevention and nutrition, and provide adult literacy and job skills training. Beyond the clinic and community center, future plans include, as funds become available, a much needed primary school for the children in this area.
In collaboration with the Kudvumisa Foundation, a Swazi/U.S. non-profit, the Rotary Heart of America—Save Swaziland’s Children Fund seeks to raise $400,000 for this project. Having lived and worked in this community for nearly four years, the Rehmeyers know how this health and education training center will change the lives of children and families, bringing hope where it is needed most.
Additional information about the Rehmeyers work and the project can be found at www.KudvumisaFoundation.org. U.S. tax-deductible contributions to the Save Swaziland’s Children Donor Advised Fund can be made at http://kudvumisafoundation.org/RDAF/HowToContribute.asp
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
It is another Monday morning, but I hope, and trust, that it will not be a manic one for you. I will do my part to try and make it a positive and good experience for you, and to accomplish this minor miracle, I will share with you an inspirational and true happening, that has brought a huge amount of joy into the hearts of some people, and I hope, as you read this true story, it will help to lighten your mood today. I promise this is worth reading!
There is a very special work going on in the area of our needy kingdom. It is conducted by a ministry called CHIPS which is an acronym for Childhood HIV Intervention Program, for Swaziland. It has been in place for four years, and through this organisation with its small, but dedicated team, literally thousands of people have been helped. They are encouraged to see their need to know their status in terms of HIV infection or otherwise, offered counselling, and then helped to get tested. Depending on their results, where necessary they are enrolled in a ART program through one of the major regional hospitals.
Assistance with transport both for the initial and subsequent visits is given, and the quality of compassion and practical support offered to those who become registered clients is exceptional.
As the CHIPS work has developed it has involved building up a relationship with the communities that are served, and having gained acceptance, the people who are serving are welcomed into the very basic homes occupied by many of their clients.
In one of the homes, they met a man who has a number of wives and several children. Among the children is one boy of five years, who has been in a very desperate and difficult condition. He was one of twin boys, but the other one died at three months. The boy’s mother also died, and now this boy, the remaining child, known to have contracted the dreaded virus, and also suffering from other complications was in a sorry state. He could neither walk nor talk, and most days he simply lay on the floor.
The boy’s father has been genuinely distressed about the condition of his son, but had pretty well resigned himself to the fact that the child would probably not survive infancy.
Now it happened, as it often does, that the father has yet another lady who has come into his life, and quite unexpectedly this lady has shown and is showing a genuine interest in this little boy. She has no medical skill or training of her own to do anything about his core condition, but she has a warm and loving heart and she has begun to work with this little boy. She has done basic things. She has made sure he is clean and fed. She has been generous with the time she has spent with him. She has caressed him and shown him tender loving care.
She saw his limbs looking powerless and wasted as they have been and she started to massage them, to stimulate the muscles that had atrophied, and the most incredible change has occurred. This little boy, who seemed to have little prospect of any quality of life, indeed whose life hung in the balance, has gradually, but amazingly, responded to the attention he has been receiving each and every day.
This homestead has been regularly visited by the CHIPS team, but it happened that the leader of the team a highly trained health professional was overseas for several weeks. When she left she knew nothing about the changed domestic arrangements in this home, and therefore nothing about the interest that this new lady had started to show.
On her return, she went to make the first visit for this new year, and she literally could not believe what she saw. This five year old child, whom she had never seen walk or talk came running and smiling toward her, and as he did so he was chatting in siSwati.
Now as I said the team leader for CHIPS is a highly trained health professional, and having got over her total surprise at seeing this transformation in the child, she wanted to know what had happened. When she asked her questions, the young lady who had been caring for him said, ‘ I just started to work with him and as I did so he seemed to start responding and we quickly bonded together. I came to see caring for this boy as my priority and I thought that with God’s help his situation can be changed, and what has happened is not what I have done but what God has done.’
Hearing this simple and humble testimony was a complete inspiration, exactly the kind of inspiration that the team leader was needing a she returned to her work. A woman of great faith herself, she was moved beyond words and to tears, as this little one ran alongside her as she visited the home and then was standing waving as later she left to visit elsewhere.
The team leader left the situation with her heart full of praise to God, absolutely sure that what she had seen was nothing less than a miracle, a miracle of God using human hands, to demonstrate that His hand was upon the life of this little boy for blessing and healing. This was a miracle of one life that seemed to be going nowhere, that now can go somewhere, because although the boy will need continuing medication, and other interventions, his body will be able to cope with them, and there is every possibility that he will be able to go to school.
Such a possibility just didn’t seem to exist, but now as his health improves, and his abilities are developing it is judged highly probable that he can make it to the next level.
As she drove along the road, she started to chastise herself, because she realised that in her work she often asks God for His direct and immediate intervention in people’s lives. She knows God can do the impossible and she asks Him to change people and situations on a daily basis, but she became aware that although she asks for this to happen, and believes that it can happen, so often she is not anticipating that it will happen, and it seemed to her that God had given her a wake up call. She found herself not only inspired, not only challenged, but hugely encouraged, and aware that she too needed to move to another level, the level of attempting great things for God, because she should be expecting great things from God.
In this frame of heart and mind she continued on her way, making more visits, and as she did so, much sooner than she could have imagined, there was something just a special to be encountered.
Her next call was a call on a lady whom she had always seen in a bed ridden state. It was said that the lady had not walked for a long time, as the result of a stroke, and that her health was deteriorating very rapidly. Her own assessment of the situation, in so far as it could be made, gave her no reason to suppose that the things were other than she had been told, and if she was completely frank, she had doubted whether the lady would be still living when she went to visit the home after a gap of some three months.
What did she discover? As she entered the homestead, the woman whom she had last seen in such a hopeless state, came walking toward her. She was warm and welcoming, and the CHIPS team leader just stood and stared in amazement.
“What has happened to you?’ She asked immediately, “ Jesus has healed me!” was the reply she received.
Now if she had not been entirely expecting the first encounter with the child and his changed condition, she certainly had not been expecting the second. It was almost too much to take on board immediately, but as she listened to the woman, it was as obvious as it could possibly be that here was another life that had been totally turned around, and it was even more obvious that there had been no other intervention, but the intervention of faith.
This woman who had been genuinely sick, who had received medical treatment for her condition, but who had retreated into her sickness becoming defeated and depressed by it, had reached a point when she had done the one thing that was essential. In weakness but summoning up the mustard seed faith she had, she had issued a desperate cry to the Lord, and He had heard that cry and had helped her, turning her weakness into strength and her sickness into new found health.
There was no spirit of boasting in this lady. She was offering a simple but sincere statement of fact. There was no magic and no muti involved. She had turned to Christ and He had turned to her and changed her. It was not more complicated or sophisticated than this. She did not know why she was healed and other people were sick, but she wanted just to give thanks to the Lord for everything.
As she celebrated this complete contrast in the woman’s condition which could not be denied, but which could be verified, the team leader just felt moved in the very depth of her soul. It was almost as if the Lord was showing her in a new way a truth that she knows very well, the truth that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever. His living power and His healing presence are as much at work right now, as they have ever been in human lives, with total transforming ability.
I think this is the kind of wake up call many of us need. We talk of miracles, and we pray for miracles, genuine observable and verifiable miracles, not things that are the product of our over fertile religious inclinations, but our expectation that we will actually see them present and enduring is sometimes far too low is it not? There is, as they say, none so blind as those who will not see, and none so slow to glorify God for what He is doing, as those who have no expectation.
Pastor Ken Jefferson