“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves… Defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
— Prov 31:8-9
“We live in a sea of poverty.
Nevertheless this sea can be reduced.
Our work is only a drop in the bucket,
But this drop is necessary.”
— Mother Teresa
Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse is noted to have said, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” There are countless things that break the heart of our God today. One is the plight of Orphans & Street Children.
For those of you who have followed the work of Bread For Life for any length of time, you probably know this has been an issue of great concern to us and the ministry of BFL. For years, we have taken in children and young people. We have seen many through primary and secondary schools and others through the university and helped in a variety of ways.
As a ministry, we have struggled with the issue of institutionalizing children (orphanages). WE had envisioned using part of our land in Yaoundé for what we cal A Community Based Orphanage. A place where kids and young people could grow in families units. Although we still have that in mind, it seems God is directing us in different direction: To work alongside existing, but struggling orphanages in our country.
The United Nations estimates 18 million African children will have lost a parent to AIDS by 2010. Unfortunately, this number will continue to grow if nothing is done. HIV/AIDS and other diseases are taking a toll on the continent of Africa where, traditionally, orphans were taken in by extended family or friends. In villages across the continent, frail elderly grandmothers do their best to care for children, but many end up in the streets.
In a 2005 Time interview Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of England drew this sad conclusion:
“Africa is the only continent in the world that’s gone backwards in the last 30 years. I find it morally disgusting that thousands of people die every year from killer diseases we can do something about. But this is the continent where if we don’t take action, we’re going to store up a lot of problems for ourselves in the future.”
In 2008, our attention was drawn to a dire situation in a small village in the NW Region of Cameroon, where an 80+ old American lady was taking care of about 35 children. Pastors and other concern citizens pleaded with us to intervene. Our heart is still broken by the situation.
Although the home has invited BFL to partner or take the place over, we have not been able to fully commit because of several other commitment and ongoing ministry demands. The commitments made so far have been on a personal level.
Occasionally, with help from friends and concern citizens, we have taken clothing and medicine to the home as well as other necessities. It is my heart’s desire to help make this orphanage a model and living testimony of God’s love. This may mean putting aside BFL’s vision for a community based orphanage in Yaoundé. Our heart is to build His kingdom, not ours. The mission God gave us is summed up in our mission statement “…to work alongside indigenous persons and efforts and to help them become spiritually, socially and economically vibrant…”
Below is brief story of this brave 82 year old American lady and the work she pioneered.
The Story of Grace Tait & Grace Shelter
Virginia Grace Tait (“Mama Grace” as she is fondly known and called in Cameroon) was born in Chicago in 1927. She went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Chicago Teacher’s College now Chicago University and later earned a Masters Degree. She attended Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta Canada, in preparation for mission work. Grace Tait’s life was greatly affected by the teaching ministry of Rev. A.W. Tozer of Chicago.
She began her mission work in Peru at the age of 27 and served in other South American countries. She returned home to American for a brief period to take care of her ailing mother. Her mother died in 1991 at the age of 100. Sister Grace returned to the mission field shortly after. She chose Africa for the next season of her life. Going first to the country of Equatorial Guinea, where she taught English. She later moved to Cameroon to continue teaching and to accomplish a lifelong passion of adopting and raising orphans.
Mama Grace was never married. Because of her age and failing health (dementia and glaucoma) she can no longer travel and has lost touch with both her country of birth (USA) and her contacts in the USA. She is now dependent on her meager pension to take care of herself and her ‘adopted” children.
What BFL has done at Grace Shelter:
» Bought a motorcycle for the home to ease transportation needs
» Provided mosquito nets
» Provide medicines for the home
» Provided blankets
» Provide exercise books for the children
» Help with tuition for two older kids to attend ‘Secondary School.’
» Provide powder milk and beverages
» Started a farm to raise rabbits to provide much needed protein.
Needs at Grace Orphanage
- » Shoes & clothing for the children (infants through age 19).
- » Water well or Bore Hole (a church in Jacksonville has committed to help, but the cost for a bore hole is more than we all envisioned. We may need others to join)
- » Monthly sponsors who can commit $30 a month for each child.
- » Books and reading materials.
- » Toys and recreational materials.
- » Volunteers to serve in the orphanage (interns, staff etc to teach on how to manage the place, commitment of one month, six months or years).
“..and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,-Ta
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
— Isa 58:10-12