Hillsboro church forms link with children in Zimbabwe


The children of Fern Valley United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe hold up their ?care packages? from their sister church in Hillsboro.

The Hillsboro United Methodist Church recently delivered 77 ?Prayer Bears? to the children of the Fern Valley United Methodist Church in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

This effort was part of a larger program named the ?Mutare Connection,? linking Hillsboro UMC with the Fern Valley UMC.

The Prayer Bear program was the brain child of Debbie Ratzloff, who was trying to come up with a mission project that would connect the children of the two churches. In consultation with Phillip Mpindu, Fern Valley pastor, she developed the idea of purchasing little bears, putting them in plastic bags along with pictures and information about the children of Fern Valley that Mpindu had sent her via the Internet, and having the children?and adults?of HUMC take the bears home.

The local people would keep the information about the Fern Valley child, then replace it with information and pictures of themselves and return the bears to the church where candy and small gifts were added to the plastic bags.

The bags then were packed in a suitcase and sent to Fern Valley via a Volunteers in Mission Team going to Zimbab?we from the United States.

Each day now the members of HUMC will be praying for their child at Fern Valley and the children at Fern Valley will be praying for the members here.

Mpindu reported about the children receiving the Prayer Bears: ?Some children were actually crying for they have not seen or received such love, care and concern from anyone. No one can afford to give wonderful gifts as these?. They actually received love from you people.?

Fern Valley UMC is located in a poor community where children are the most vulnerable to hunger. At times the children even faint while at school because of the lack of nourishment.

HUMC is attempting to raise money to help Fern Valley develop a feeding program that would provide proper nutrition for the children there. HUMC will be providing the meal at the local farmers market Aug. 13 with all of the profits going toward the feeding program at Fern Valley. It is estimated that it will cost $700 (U.S.) a month to provide for this program.

The ?Mutare Connection? was started at the first of this year when Zimbabwe was experiencing an inflation rate of 3 million percent. This past month, it was 231 million percent. This means prices double every 13 seconds.

Kennedy Mukwindidza, a United Methodist pastor from Zimbabwe, was the pastor for Marion Valley and Lincolnville UMCs from 2001 to 2005. His wife and son, Susan & Farai, joined HUMC when Susan was a student at Tabor College.

Because of this and other connections between the Hutchinson District of the UMC and the Mutare District of Zimbabwe the ?Mutare Connection? was launched to help provide for the churches of Zimbabwe.

Kennedy Mukwindidza suggested the Fern Valley UMC would be a good partner church for HUMC. Pastor Charles Grant will be providing $20 per month, which is the salary for pastors in Zimbabwe, as a part of the program.

?Besides the financial support, which is mostly one way, there is also a tremendous amount of prayer support and cross-cultural education, which is good for both churches,? Grant said. ?To have our children praying for and becoming aware of what is happening to children in Zimbabwe and connecting with those children is worth far more than the cost of the program.?

For information about the program, contact HUMC at 620-947-5643 or write to 905 E. D St., Hillsboro, KS 67063.

?HUMC release

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