When First Pres members went to an orphan care center in South Africa that the church supports, they saw ‘a bright light’ of hope.
by Jill Langridge
It’s not very often that dreams come true.
For me, a dream that I had for over 10 years came true in February when I served alongside five other godly women at Kerus Global’s Orphan Care Center (OCC) in Soshanguve, South Africa. The OCC was created 10 years ago by the bravery and faith of Jennie Cerullo and Marcia Ball when they saw first-hand the effects of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Almost an entire generation has been wiped out by the AIDS epidemic, leaving behind many children who are now being raised by their grannies or living in child-headed households. The Orphan Care Center is making a lasting impact on the lives of over 200 orphans in this town by providing a safe and loving environment for them to thrive after school.
The staff, an incredible group of men and women who love Jesus, give their all to the orphans and are assigned a group of children similar in age. The staff member helps the children with homework, organizes and plays enriching games with them and does home visits to check in on each child’s living situation.
While at the OCC, the children are fed a hearty meal (often it’s their only meal of the day), given lots of hugs and learn about the love of Jesus.
I was so impressed with Kerus and the work they are doing in Soshanguve. They are truly a bright light in a town that has a lot of pain, crime and suffering. The presence of the Holy Spirit is in and around the grounds, buildings, staff and children at the OCC. Kerus truly is giving these children hope despite their dire circumstances.
by Liz Corder
Some of the highlights of our trip were getting to know the staff and walking alongside them as we were all processing grief and how to forgive.
It was such an encouragement to see the readiness and eagerness in their hearts. Each day at the Orphan Care Center the kids began to arrive around one o’clock and were so happy to play and teach us songs, dances and hand claps. They also loved to braid and play with our hair.
Jill taught them American games like “Red Light Green Light” and could be seen in line playing Four Square with a bunch of boys. Wendy led the staff and kids in drawing and art.
The kids got to draw on popsicle sticks how they experienced Jesus and love. Wendy collected the sticks, glued them together in a cross shaped collage, and left it for them to hang in the center.
Each day felt like a reward. There is so much life and joy in Soshanguve in the Orphan Care Center, and we feel beyond grateful that we got to experience it first hand.