Equipping the Orphan
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey visits with Christian businessman Benedict Schwartz and his wife, Kathleen, founders of the Children of Zion Village in Namibia, Africa. Hear how the Schwartz's and others are preparing orphans for adulthood by teaching them agricultural and business skills. Find out how you can be a part of this exciting adventure to reach the orphan with the love of Christ.
Benedict and Kathleen SchwartzIn 2001, Benedict Schwartz, a Christian businessman from Maryland, was given the call to begin creating orphan villages in Africa. God moved mightily, and after organizing a team from his church, the Children of Zion Village was built in Namibia. There are now 55 children there who are being raised in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. In 2004, Benedict was led to organize All Kids Can Learn International, Inc. (AKCLI), to spread the vision that churches and businesses can sponsor childr...more
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey visits with Christian businessman Benedict Schwartz and his wife, Kathleen, founders of the Children of Zion Village in Namibia, Africa.
Equipping the Orphan
Bob: It's easy to see all of the challenges around the world – poverty and injustice, slavery and oppression, and think – "What can we really do?" Here is Benedict Schwartz.
Benedict: I see the call as different parts of the body of Christ having different giftings coming together to solve enormous problems – the HIV-AIDS crisis is resulting in the largest humanitarian crisis that the world has ever seen, and for we, in the church, who have been given so much; who have these gifts and talents to get together with our brothers and sisters who are in such enormous need, that is the call to solve these problems.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 18th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk about what you can do to have an impact in your world on today's program. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. Have you booked your flight yet to Africa?
Dennis: You know, I am going to go visit Benedict and Kathleen Schwartz in their Villages of Hope. I will go. Are you going to go?
Bob: Well, when I first me them, they said "When are you coming to Africa?" and I said, "Well, nobody's invited me," and they said, "Well, you're invited." So I could tell, as we began this conversation on this subject this week that you're ready to – in fact, I'm just wondering if Barbara is as ready to go as you are – maybe more ready, huh?
Dennis: Maybe more, maybe moreso, Bob. I mean, we visited children's homes in the former Soviet Union, South Africa, China, we've been a lot of places and seen some needs that those images never leave your mind, and they enlarge your heart for those who have no families, and Benedict and Kathleen Schwartz join us again. Welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Benedict: Thank you.
Kathleen: Thank you very much.
Dennis: They currently live in – well, a little north of Lusaka, Zambia, which is the capital of Zambia, and there they give leadership to Villages of Hope, which are children's homes that they are building for around, $20,000, $25,000 they can build a children's home that houses how many people?
Benedict: Ten children. It's a three-bedroom cottage, five children in each of two bedrooms, and then a widow Christian caregiver in the third bedroom who takes care of the children. Cooking is indigenous cooking, outdoor cooking. I remember when we had the discussion with the board of directors there, it's an all-Zambian board of directors. What we're trying for is sustainability, which means that it's not to be North Americas coming, establishing the model, but rather allowing the Holy Spirit to enable local people in Zambia.
Well, I remember, we had quite a discussion over whether or not we should have a modern kitchen or traditional cooking over wood and charcoal, and the traditional cooking won out, because what we're trying to do is raise up these children to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be citizens of Zambia who can exercise the gifts that the Lord has given them and know that they have a call to help bring others to the Lord Jesus.
Dennis: You ran a software company for a number of years near Baltimore, Maryland. You and your wife have six children, two of whom are adopted, and you decided to leave last summer, and go live in the midst of these orphans and begin to care for them.
I have to ask you to do this, and this may be tough, but I know Lusaka has a special need of some 75,000 street children who just live on the street. What is it like for these children to live there because they've lose their parents to HIV-AIDS? What does it mean for them?
Benedict: What it means is that they have to find some substitute source of protection, and what that translates into is gangs. You will often see the young children begging on the streets, but they are often there begging at the requirement of older orphans who are taking advantage of them in every single way.
But that's been a very practical way what it means, and a major problem is that once the children have lived in that way, having no supervision, no instruction, no love, no care, they, in a way, it becomes very difficult to integrate them back into situations with structure and discipline.
Bob: Kathleen, you have to look at this situation every time you are over in Namibia or in Zambia and think, "You know, what we're doing is just caring for a few. The problem is so immense, are we really making any kind of a difference?"
Kathleen: Well, you look child by child, and you see each child now has smiling faces and runs up to shake your hand as you arrive at their house and is happily kicking the soccer ball and just filled with such great joy and, for that one, it's a huge difference. So, for every one you're helping, you're changing a life.
Benedict: Now,the story of John, little John, who is six years old, is probably somewhat typical. Honey, do you want share that?
Kathleen: He was being cared for by distant relatives, a double orphan, and when our people on the ground there were going with the social workers to that family, the family was offering for us and asking us to take care of a couple of other children living there, and they could see that John was not well cared for, he was out taking care of the goats for the family, and they said, "No, no, no, because we need his help to work here."
Later in the week when they went to the local school and were talking to the principal about another young boy who was going to be coming to our village, he said, "Well, what about this family," and mentioned the name where John was. And they said, "Well, they won't allow him to come," and he said, "I will talk to them," and by the evening, we got a call that said yes, they would let him come because basically he was being used as a slave. He was working there.
So now we have this sweet little happy boy who before, all he knew was work, no school, no education, not adequate nutrition, and we find that often, when the children come, at first, the first couple of weeks, they eat and eat and eat and eat at every meal because they're so afraid that's the last meal they'll have.
After they've been there a couple of weeks, then they are eating more normal amounts for children, and that's the way he was when he arrived.
Dennis: Benedict, comment on slavery, because this is a huge deal for children who have no mother and father to protect them.
Benedict: It's a huge deal, and I've heard that there is more slavery going on in the world right now than at any time in history. It's something that we don't seem to be very aware of in this country. Our oldest daughter, Hannah, gave the analog of a village on top of a mountain, and the ocean waters rising, and the people on top of the mountain don't hear the cries of the people who are drowning beneath, and that's kind of where our culture is at. We are the village on top of the mountain.
Dennis: And our friend, Gary Haugen, with International Justice Mission out of Washington, D.C., has developed a very effective ministry to address the needs of those children who are slaves and have been involved in slavery for a number of years.
You, however, have developed an organization called All Kids Can Learn International. Explain what the purpose of your organization is and what it's all about.
Benedict: Okay, let me go back a step. When we first developed the Children's Village in Namibia, our church, which had about 400 people at the time, not a big church, really embraced it, and at this point in time, over 100 members have gone to Namibia to our Children's Village. They pray for the kids every day, and the kids pray for us every day. There are intercessory groups for every single child.
Bob: Now, let me interrupt you. How did it go from your vision to your church really embracing it? Did you put on a slide show? How did you sell this into the church?
Dennis: Well, it actually even started before you, didn't it, with a couple in that church?
Benedict: Yes, that couple who had a tremendous heart for adoption, had adopted nine children, trans-racial adoptions, special needs adoptions, and that began a movement in our church of the Holy Spirit where there were over 100 children now – out of 650 people who attend on a weekend, over 100 children have been adopted into our church.
Benedict: Seriously. So what we saw as a result of that, God really developed a heart for adoption, so that when we went to the Mission Committee, when we began to ask people to pray, and we did it very strategically, about beginning a Children's Village in Africa, there was fertile ground there, and we began to see the Lord's miracles occur; miracles of provision, and things just began to roll along in a wonderful way as we saw God's hand in action.
And what we learned, we learned a very basic principle, which is if God's people will move in the direction of James 1:27, to care for the widow and the orphan in their distress, we will see God prove Himself to be the Father of the fatherless.
So one of our sons, who has been in the mission field, he's 23 years old now, has said that so much of the body of Christ says we're waiting on God for instructions as to what to do, and he says, "No, God's waiting on us to do what He has already told us to do."
Dennis: In a conversation you and I had a few weeks ago, you told me that this had reinvigorated your youth group and that it had given them a fresh picture and passion for the next generation of being missionaries.
Benedict: It has been phenomenal what's happened in relationship to missions in our church. If you can imagine, a church that has attendance of 650 people, last year gave over $540,000 to missions. And some of the things that have happened over the last 10 years as the elders of the church have chosen to move ahead in missions, our sanctuary became too small. We had to add a balcony, we had to add a second floor to the Christian education building, we had to add a new narthex. Not a penny of debt.
We had to add a new worship center, not a penny of debt. We are adding a new youth centers, gymnasium and all …
Dennis: There are a lot of churches right now who want to know, well, what's the program for this?
Benedict: The program is to get on our knees and ask God to show us how to be obedient to what he has called us to do. What we have seen in our mission – we bought five houses in Cuba, partnering with a Cuban pastor to start house churches around the island, our kids have smuggled Bibles into various countries around the world. So this has been high drama of living out the Gospel so that many of our young people want to be missionaries and have chosen that as life directions.
Dennis: This is huge, because the next generation of young people today are abandoning the church in droves by the millions. I mean, that's one of Barna's, in his research, one of his key findings is that the next generation of young people, as they grow up and leave the church, are not coming back. You're saying, as this infectious love for Christ works its way out through our hearts with a compassion ministry to orphans and widows, it ignites something that I think is the DNA of Christianity. It's God's heart. He has a heart for the orphan. It's why He adopted us.
Bob: Well, and it's – you're seeing it start to spread to other churches, where churches are now adopting or taking on responsibility to build one of these children's villages and then to care for it, over time, is that what's happening?
Benedict: Yes, we have 230 acres in Zambia. Now, we recognize that not every church is going to be able to go build a children's village like we did in Namibia, but every church can adopt a cottage, and so we are constructing cottages, three bedrooms, five kids in a bedroom, widow caregiver, and we've evaluated the cost from years now of experience, and $500 a month will support that cottage and those children.
So just as our church, Mount Zion, adopted a whole orphan village, we are saying, one church, one cottage.
Kathleen: There is such joy in doing the will of the Lord. When I was homeschooling our daughter that we adopted at 15, and was trying to fit it in with my busy life, there was joy that you can't describe. And when you are there with the children, and you see the next children arrive, and you see God at work, there is joy that you can't describe. And as we have talked to churches and said, you know, given – opened up the possibility and the invitation – joy comes – excitement, enthusiasm, a new life, that isn't there when it's just church as usual, business as usual, the regular things, because then you're doing – really entering into a work of God, and the joy is great.
Dennis: God's heart is for the orphan, it really is. Benedict, one church stumbled across an idea of supporting these villages, 500 a month, with pocket change.
Benedict: Right. There is a church of 400 people, and what they said, "We'd love to support one of these villages, but our mission budget is already allocated, our regular budget is stretched, and they came up with the idea of just using Dad's pocket change. Mom always wants to get that pocket change into some kind of a container, not just on the general mess of Dad's dresser.
Bob: I thought it was supposed – it goes in the washing machine, doesn't it? That's where most of my pocket change usually winds up.
[Dennis is laughing]
Benedict: That's where some of it gets collected, yeah. So, anyway, what they did, they began to do that. They gave, through the youth group, they gave jars to take home, and the coins get put in, and their commitment was for $500 a month, and what they have found is that the crumbs from the table, this change, is amounting to $1,100 a month.
So your gleanings from the field, your crumbs from the table, can literally save the lives of 10 kids. It's almost a no-brainer. Any church in this country could be able to do this.
Kathleen: If you think of a church, say they have 100 members, and 100 people come on a Sunday. If every person who came on a Sunday gave $1.25, you can't hardly buy anything for $1.25. You'd have your $500.
Bob: Well, and you're right. It's something that we can easily do. The question is, how do we encourage people to easily do it. You've already mentioned this week the event that's going to be taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and you've been to a number of these previous summits. Explain to our listeners what goes on at one of these.
Dennis: Well, about four years ago, FamilyLife, along with Focus on the Family, Steven Curtis Chapman, and I think there were about 30 other organizations, all joined together to host a gathering of orphan care, foster care, and adoption ministries – foundations, churches, people who care about those who have no voice.
And we gathered these people together, Bob, and it was the first time that all these organizations bearing the name of Christ had ever gathered together under the same roof and began to collaborate and talk about how can we partner? Instead of reinventing the wheel, let's talk about how we can use each other's strengths to tell the story of the orphan.
And so we hosted it again, and they came back, and you were at the second one, I believe, Benedict, isn't that right?
Benedict: Yes, we were at the second one.
Dennis: You sat across the table from me and, at that point, you were just working this idea at that point. Just give our listeners your perspective of this summit and what can happen to a layman, because that's what you were when you came to this Orphan Care Summit.
Benedict: Well, I want to say that I think that this is one of the places where the Holy Spirit is really focusing, and that is bringing people together to collaborate, to bring together their different giftings, their different resources.
We have been so enormously blessed through the linkages and relationships that have been developed, and through this whole process of networking that strengthens each other. Through this, at Summit 3, we were doing a workshop, and an organization came up and said they want to try and help raise funds to construct cottages – a Christian business organization has linked with us so that we are doing job creation, and we are doing enterprise creation so that we're not just caring for the three to six, seven-year-old orphans, but that we're focused on helping older young adults to gain skills and to learn how to conduct business.
In fact, we have on the payroll right now, almost 50 young adults who have learned to do construction, welding, and we have a block-making business, a farm market, Miracle, the farm market, in October did almost $5,000 worth of sales of produce.
And they are learning how to do business. It is just enormously exciting, and these partnerships have been so critical in helping to make this all happen. So if you go to the summit, I think you can go with an expectancy that God is going to link you up with key people; that there are going to be divine appointments waiting for you.
Bob: So if a listener is not currently involved in some kind of orphan care ministry or adoption ministry, they just think this is something maybe our church ought to do?
Dennis: Come check it out, yeah, come and check it out. It's just a – well, I hate to use an illustration from the continent of Africa, but it's like a watering hole, and if you've ever been to Africa or seen the "Planet Earth" series on TV, the watering hole is where everybody gathers, and there's all kinds there, all kinds.
And you know what? You're going to find all kinds around the watering hole of this summit of people who care about the orphan, who have a heart for adoption, who want to speak out about foster care, and who want to bring different skill sets to the table and, I believe Benedict is right – I think God has a divine appointment for you at this event. It's May 1 through 3 at Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I think Barbara and I are going to be there, Rick Warren was there last year; will probably – we'll try to twist his arm, both Rick and Kay, and see if they can't attend.
But the point is, is this is where God is working and, Benedict, you said it. The Holy Spirit is at work moving the church to engage the needs of orphans, and you're a great illustration of this, and I just personally appreciate your courage and your faith, and pray God's favor upon you guys.
Kathleen: Well, thank you for having us here.
Benedict: We appreciate it, thank you.
Bob: There is more information about the event you're talking about on our website, Dennis, at FamilyLife.com. If our listeners would like some of the details, they can go to the home page, look for the box on the right side of the screen that says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click that box, it will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information about the upcoming Summit for Orphans in Fort Lauderdale.
There is also a link there to Benedict and Kathleen's website, so you can get more information about what they're doing, and there are resources that we have available here at FamilyLife to help equip individuals and churches to help orphans and to begin an orphan ministry or an adoption ministry in your church.
Again, all the details are on our website at FamilyLife.com. Click on the right side of the screen where there is a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to the area of the site where you can get the information you need, or if it's easier, just call us – 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can answer any questions you have or get you the information you need.
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Now, tomorrow we want to introduce you to a couple from Ireland, a young couple who are writing hymns for the church today, and we'll hear a few of their hymns tomorrow. Keith and Kristyn Getty join us. I hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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