Parkway’s Student Ministry has been visiting and supporting Rich and Michelle Franzen’s ministry, Impact Africa, in Johannesburg, South Africa for several years now. I am excited that Parkway is partnering with Rich to help further their ministry reach and specifically, to care for abandoned children. I first met Rich before Christmas, while he was here in the States visiting friends and supporters. Rich and his wife have been serving God in missions for over 25 years, and they have built a holistic ministry in Johannesburg that seeks to share the love and truth of Jesus through meeting some of the practical needs of people living in squatter camps.
As estimated 10 million people live in makeshift squatter homes where severe poverty, substance abuse, orphan-related issues, lack of education and HIV-AIDS create dire circumstances for families.
When I met Rich, he passionately told us stories of babies that are abandoned daily, as women have no means to care for them. They leave these babies in dumpsters, chemical toilets and other places. Rich and his wife have been seeking solutions to this problem and have created a Baby Rescue program. They have three “Baby Safes” throughout the city, where mothers can leave the babies safely. These safes have alarms on them so that they are notified when a child is left. They recognized the need to educate the community, and so they have formed teams that will go out into the community and offer pregnancy counseling and practical help to encourage mothers to keep their children or to give them up for adoption. Finally, Rich shared with us that the Lord had led him to build a home to care for these babies after they are abandoned until a forever family can be found for them, but Rich had to take advantage of an opportunity that came his way to purchase and organize this home. Not having full funding yet, he followed God’s leading, took advantage of the opportunity brought before him, and Parkway has come alongside him to finish the funding of the baby home.
The need to care for the fatherless is the church’s role. We will not ignore abandoned children, whether here locally or around the globe. God calls us to intervene in these children’s lives. In Proverbs 31:8-9, He calls us to speak up for the destitute, the poor and the needy. Jesus called all the little children to Him, and this call is for all the children of the world (Mt 19:14, Mk 10:14, Lk 18:16). Would you be willing to ask the Lord where He might be calling you to intervene in the life of a child? Sowing the seeds of eternity into the heart of a child is a worthy endeavor.
We will have a luncheon this Sunday after the third service (12:30) in the Sandbox at the Westpark Campus where we will identify some ways that you and your family can care for the orphan. In addition, if you are interested in seeing and supporting the work of the Baby Rescue Ministry in South Africa, a trip is planned for the end of April.