Children at Kisumu
One of the privileges I've had since working at LCMS World Relief and Human Care was to visit Kenya on a few occasions and to see the work of the Missouri Synod's partner church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK). Walter Obare is the bishop of the ELCK. Way back when I was a student at Concordia Seminary Saint Louis, Walter Obare was on campus doing some study and working in the mail room. Remembering back to those days, I remember a fellow student coming up to me and saying, "Dude, you have got to meet this guy. He's a bishop of an African church working on our mail room." Little did I know years later I would have the opportunity to visit Kenya and see Bishop Obare's church. Come to think of it... how humble for a bishop to be working in the mail room.
Bishop Obare and Collver in South Africa, August 2009
One of the projects that we have been able to do in South Africa in partnership with the Lutheran Church in Kenya is 1001 Orphans. Now orphan support for the church is nothing new. In Kenya, there are a large number of children in need due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Ordinarily in Kenyan society, family members would take care of the children of their relatives who are in need, and this is still typically what occurs. However, there are instances where several brothers or sisters died of HIV/AIDS leaving no relatives left to take care of the children. The Lutheran church in Kenya has identified this as a need.
The actual name "1001 Orphans" came from working with another partner and RSO of LCMS WR-HC, Concordia Lutheran Ministries (CLM). Keith Frndak had the idea that 1000 children would be identified who could be "sponsored" by people in the United States. The "Thousand and One" indicates that there always is one more child in need of assistance. The idea was that after 1000 children were sponsored, another 1000 would be identified and the program could continue.
Jamison Hardy, Keith Frndak, Collver at CLM
1001 Orphans is a new opportunity to reach out with Christ’s love to orphans and disadvantaged children. The goal: to reach 1,000 children, "plus one lost sheep" – a reminder that there is always one more child who needs care, that the church’s work is never done.
In its first phase, there is a special emphasis on orphans and disadvantaged children living in Kenya. We hope the Kenya program is so successful, 1001 Orphans can expand into other regions of the world.
In Kenya, one of the main people administering 1001 Orphans is Pastor David Chuchu. He is the counterpart for Rev. Matthew Harrison for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. He does the "mercy" projects there.
Listen to my radio interview on KFUO AM from July 1, 2009 on 1001 Orphans.
There is much more information about 1001 Orphans on the LCMS WR-HC page and in the November 2009 Lutheran Witness.
I'm off to Pittsburgh today to meet with CLM.