Hello friends of Jonathan’s House for Orphans in the Central African Republic,
Imagine this…. You’re driving on a red dirt road in the center of Africa. A century ago, this land was the home of cannibals. Thankfully, that threat is now gone, but a new threat has emerged as fears of rebel violence grip the country. It is hot this time of year and the rainy season has ended. The trees are still lush and green but they know that a season of thirst has begun that will last for several months. During the dry season, plants won’t grow and wells will run dry. You’re a foreigner in this land, and it is the hungriest and most malnourished country on earth (World Hunger Index 2018). No other country comes even close to this level of desperation, especially for children. This is a land of great mineral wealth, but the people don’t share in the wealth. You’ll need to be careful, because you are in one of the most dangerous and corrupt countries on earth. Children who have lost their parents through disease, war, or disaster struggle to survive here any way they can. Some will not succeed.
Fortunately, you have friends here. You’re on your way up the really bad road to visit Jonathan’s House for Orphans at the top of the big hill. You pass our medical center, the Margery Benedict Memorial Health Clinic, which has just begun to offer maternity services. The covered porch is full of patients. Most of them are mothers with small children on their laps who are suffering from malaria or parasites. Regardless of their condition, many of them have walked a very long distance in the heat to get here.
In the old auto shop, the school lunch program feeds 440 children every day. Hand washing comes first. This is the only nutritious meal most of the children will get every day, and it’s all prepared by three ambitious lunch ladies over wood fires. Along with the meal, every child receives a chewable multivitamin. They’ll eat every bite of lunch, and not one child will pocket his vitamin and throw it away when adults aren’t looking. These children really appreciate the value of the nutrients. After some time in Africa, you’ll notice that these children are stronger and healthier than children who aren’t in the program. Many of them are enrolled in school just for the opportunity to eat the meals.
On the right you see a basketball court. Two teams are playing barefoot soccer with a papaya. Next to the basketball court is the old church which houses grades 4-6 of the Eugene Rosenau Christian School. Space is tight, and some classrooms have nearly 70 children, but they are well behaved and learning well, despite the heat and lack of electricity. The hole in the roof needs to be repaired before the rainy season begins. Grades 1-3 are held in the original school building down the hill from the church. In between the two school buildings lies a new playground. It’s the main attraction.
When you arrive at the orphanage, you are surrounded with hugs from children of all ages. There is happiness here, and the weight of danger and the worry of daily survival is not present, except for the new children who have not yet accepted that this is a safe place. There is laughter and love here. In the middle of a land full of danger that has robbed children of childhood and many of their lives, this is a place where children can be children. Joyful children. Welcome to Jonathan’s House for Orphans- Central African Republic. It’s my favorite place on earth.
I had the opportunity to visit our center in November. My time was spent visiting with and encouraging our staff at the orphanage, medical center, Christian School, and the school lunch program. The entire staff and I shared communion as a group. Now I want to encourage each of you who pray for and support this mission. The results are better than at any time since we began seven years ago and your gifts are being multiplied on the ground in Africa. The staff is fully engaged in the vision and it shows. Lives are being saved and changed. The Good News is being heard. Be encouraged. The Lord is at work here. The children know that they are part of something special, and that they are loved.
Because we are a small organization that pays careful attention to our resources, I can assure you that we will do everything possible to maximize the impact of available funding. Thank you for your prayers and support throughout the last year. You are truly making a world of difference.
Jonathan’s House for Orphans – CAR
Since my last update letter, we lost a dear friend. Cliff Wilson died on November 1 at age 89. He was a kind, wise, and generous Christian servant with a giant heart for helping children in Africa. His generosity continues to have an impact on people around the world, including the Central African Republic. He taught me a lot about what’s really important in life and I’ll miss him greatly. Cliff once told me never to write an update letter that was longer than one page or nobody would read it. If you’re still reading this we’ll know he was wrong. But just in case he was right, I included a lot of photos.