by John RakisSr. Director of Donor Ministry

This report was written by one of our  ministry team members after being in South Africa recently:

OE1A4904-copy(2)As a young child, Zama lived in a beautiful home in South Africa. Both of her parents had successful careers, and they had it all: house, cars, security. Zama and her two younger siblings were well taken care of. Little did she know, at 8 years old, her safe world would all come crashing down. Within 6 months, both of her parents died from AIDS. Zama and her siblings were orphaned. And, not only was she suffering the loss of her parents, but she tested positive for the HIV virus.

Not knowing what to do, she turned to her grandmother for help, only to be met with rejection. Because she carried HIV, her grandmother did not want her or her siblings. After pleading and crying for her grandma to take them in, she finally relented under the condition that they took care of themselves. After a few weeks of abuse from her relatives, Zama couldn't take it any longer. Hearing of a church that helped children in need, she gathered her siblings and sought refuge at World Orphans church partner Christian Life Centre.

Fast forward to the present and you'll find a beautiful 18-year-old Zama who has spent the last 10 years being looked after and loved by the church family. Unfortunately, the cruel reality of AIDS has taken a toll on her. In the past year she has suffered three strokes and has lost 60 pounds. She is in the final stages of the disease. When I was talking with one of the house mothers, she told me that Zama has been a constant joy at the center. With her gentle demeanor and an unbelievable kindness in her eyes, you would never know the suffering she has experienced.

The reality that she is living her last days is very true, but with that comes an overwhelming sense of hope knowing that because of the church, she has known true love. She has been cared for, she has experienced joy, and, most importantly, she knows the love of Jesus Christ. Zama's story is a story of hope. It's a story of being rescued. It's a story of sorrow and pain being turned into joy and peace. It's a story that has such a beautiful ending because of the work the church is doing in South Africa.

How does a situation of horror and despair end up being a story of joy and promise?

Zama. The Church. Hope. Jesus. You.

Thank you for being part of this story through your sacrifices of giving and praying.

*Names and images have been changed for child protection.