The impact of sponsorship combined with the love of the church in Zimbabwe is creating ripple effects beyond what we could have ever imagined.
Pastor Dixon Changara is the Lead Pastor at Celebration Church Zimbabwe. Celebration Church Zimbabwe is located in Bulawayo, the 2nd largest city in Zimbabwe, while Celebration Church’s home campus is based in Jacksonville, Florida under the leadership of Pastors Tim and Jen Timberlake.
Poverty in Zimbabwe
Bulawayo used to be a large industrial city before the days of economic hardship. Because of the difficulty that has overcome the city, most people have left to find work elsewhere. Over 3 million people have left Zimbabwe in search of work in a better economy, most of them fathers. Because of this, the majority of families in Bulawayo are headed by single mothers or children.
Over 3 million people have left Zimbabwe in search of work in a better economy, most of them fathers. Because of this, the majority of families in Bulawayo are headed by single mothers or children.
The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is 85%, which means that most households are dependent on buying and selling. This is a method that they use to have food for that day, and the food they have is only enough for one meal – ground corn and vegetables – and the next day the process starts over again. There is usually no money left for anything else, so you see children playing in the streets during the day because they cannot afford to go to school, and they are wearing the same, tattered clothing every day. For many families struggling with unemployment, they turn to prostitution just to survive.
The living situation in Bulawayo is bleak. Most communities are referred to as “high density suburbs”, because homes are built so closely together in order to house as many people as possible. But for many Zimbabweans who have little money, each home will host about 4 or 5 families – equaling about 20-25 people. By doing this, they are able to combine their money and pay for resources such as water and electricity. In these living conditions, it is easy for diseases and illness to be spread quickly through the community.
Partnership Impact in Zimbabwe
Celebration Church and their partner, Bayside Church, have made a deep impact on the community of Bulawayo that will be felt for generations to come. The church, in partnership with the OneChild center, has become a sanctuary for the children and their families within the poverty around them. Everyone in the community is talking about it. They say, “We don’t know these people, but they come here and they love us, so this God must be real because there is no other reason for someone to come all this way here to love a child.”
We don’t know these people, but they come here and they love us, so this God must be real because there is no other reason for someone to come all this way here to love a child.
Sponsorship has put the local church on a different level in their community. The people are beginning to learn that the church truly cares for the community in which it is serving, and it is raising its people up to do what they have been unable to do before.
Bayside Community Church heard the need in a suburb within Bulawayo, Cowdray Park – 80,000 households within the community without access to water. Bayside and its members answered the call and were able to drill an 80ft well with a large tank for the people of Cowdray Park. Now, people from all over Bulawayo are coming to access this well.
Not only did Bayside meet an immediate and tangible need, but they also responded to the cry for a safe place for people to come and gather.
Pastor Dixon says, “Children come to the Bayside property to be fed, play with their friends, and simply be children. This amazing outreach center gives them the opportunity to worship and know Jesus, which is far greater than any physical need we can meet. The center is so loved, we usually have to ask children to leave and go home in the evenings!”
The impact of sponsorship combined with the love of the church in Zimbabwe is creating ripple effects beyond what Pastor Dixon could have ever imagined. He says, “I look at sponsorship and the way the church is fulfilling the mission that Jesus gave us – church teams come over from the United States to serve us and what they see is how looks to change a community in Jesus’ name. And when they go home they will never be the same again. What may seem like little work to their church is actually doing great things for us here.”
This amazing outreach center gives them the opportunity to worship and know Jesus, which is far greater than any physical need we can meet.
Pastor Dixon’s view on partnership is this: “It always gives me a picture of heaven when we can all be together, and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or your skin color – we are just one family united in the love of Jesus.”
We are accountable to the children we serve AND to our donors.
Our accountability to our donors is one of our highest priorities. Our goal is to use the funds entrusted to us as wise stewards. To do this requires continued monitoring of our fund distribution. OneChild is also a member in good standing with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)