In 2004 we started a ministry in Swaziland focused on supporting teams of young people to reach out to local schools fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Along the way, we found the story behind the story – widows and orphans. We were introduced to Neighborhood Care Points which were operating sporadically around the Manzini area. These communities were desperate for help to feed and raise the orphans left behind by HIV/AIDS. We needed help to answer the needs of vulnerable children.
Children’s HopeChest came along with a model to connect communities in the West with developing communities in Swaziland. We formed a partnership and only needed someone to come to Swaziland to make everything happen. That someone was Matt Gerber and his wife Carike (also spelled Kriek). When they moved to Swaziland from their native South Africa, there were no systems, no staff, no office. They had only hearts to serve the orphaned and skills the Lord had developed in them over the course of several years of full time ministry in South Africa.
When teams came to visit, when food was delivered, when profiles were collected, when anything needed to happen, it was Matt and Carike who stepped up. Many times they were desperate for help and wondered how long they could continue. Their call to the orphaned kept them going day-by-day.
Over time, help arrived. We hired staff, bought vehicles, trained workers, and developed systems. The ministry grew from the original eight CarePoints to well over 30. The staff grew too.
The ministry now reaches out to over 7,000 children. We have a development plan for each CarePoint. We’ve seen many wells drilled, buildings constructed, playgrounds installed, and churches planted at the CarePoints. We’ve developed micro-enterprise for many of the women who cook (Timbali Crafts), the Swaziland Leadership Academy, Sports for Christ, Medical ministry, African Harmony Choir made up of our CarePoint children, vocational training, and more. Many CarePoints have sustainability projects ranging from gardens to chickens to greenhouses. We started a for-profit farm to raise cattle and grow cabbages. We’ve pioneered the “Survive, Thrive, and Succeed” vision, which is incorporated across all of Children’s HopeChest.
Many people have come together to make all this happen. The partners, the Swazi communities, the ongoing devotion of our staff, and the organizations serving the entire effort. Praise the Lord for that “Yes” from Matt and Carike in 2007. A decade later we are seeing a great harvest from that seed of faith. And the future is indeed bright for Swaziland as we continue to engage a generation of orphans to grow into a godly leadership that redeems the HIV/AIDS pandemic by taking the gospel to all of Swaziland–and one day to the world.
–Scott Borg, Senior Manager Swaziland Ministries Adventures in Missions
From the Hearts of Matt and Kriek
How do we write “something” about the last 10 years here in Swaziland?
How do we capture all the laughter, the joys and the tears?
How do we share about all the lives (in Swaziland AND in America) that have been changed?
How do we write about the friendships we have made? The family we have become?
How do we testify about God’s faithfulness and goodness and provision?
How do we thank everyone who have invested their lives, their time, their dreams, their finances in Swaziland and this ministry?
How do we celebrate TEN good/long/hard/amazing years??
To summarize everything that has happened in the past 10 years is impossible. A couple of definite highlights for us is seeing profiled CarePoint children, now no longer children, being part of staff and the Swaziland Leadership Academy and bringing change and hope to other CarePoint children and their communities. Seeing communities (Swazi and Western) invested in their CarePoints, working together to bring change and to share God’s love. Seeing CarePoints and communities move from “Survive” to “Thrive.”
In Biblical times, when God’s people uniquely encountered Him, and when they wanted to remember His promise to bless them, they built altars. The altars served to remind future generations of God’s past faithfulness in order to give them strength to continue trusting the LORD in their present trials. Noah was the first one to build an altar; Abraham builds two altars. Isaac, Jacob, David, and Gideon all built altars and worshiped God after having unique encounters with Him.
Maybe we should build an altar for God ….. maybe we need something tangible to memorize our encounters with God here in Swaziland and to always remind us of what God has done the past 10 years. Maybe this will remind future generations …. our CarePoint children, when grown up, of the things God has done in their lives.