City church expands African ministry

Home of Hope Kenya providing care to nation’s most vulnerable

SAFE AT LAST- Pictured here are children and workers at the Home of Hope Kenya Dream Centre. The facility was spearheaded through Red Deer’s Word of Life Centre earlier this year in an effort to rescue abandoned children in the poverty-wracked region.

Continuing its outreach to some of the world’s most poor and vulnerable, a City church is working to extend its international ministry in Africa.

Red Deer-based pastor Brian Thomson has been a minister since 1977 and has been traveling for more than a decade as an evangelist based out of Word of Life Centre in Red Deer.

Several years ago, the church launched Home of Hope Rwanda which supports orphans by linking them with families. Aside from the orphanage work, the ministry also educates people and provides job training. ‘Micro-loans’ have been granted for ventures in gardening, farming and the selling of used clothing, smoked fish and charcoal.

As of September 2009, Word of Life Ministries, under the direction of Thomson, assumed leadership of Home of Hope India as well. Home of Hope India had been under the direction of Bob and Kay Hoover since 1982. Over the years they had rescued hundreds of boys with desperate needs and raised them to be successful adults in the village of Kuzhipanthandalam.

And this past winter, staff extended their reach to the nation of Kenya. Home of Hope Kenya began receiving orphans – many who were abandoned as babies or small children in a Nairobi garbage dump, local slums or other remote areas.

Karissa Paterson, associate director of Home of Hope in Red Deer, said the organization learned about the Kenyan children being abandoned earlier this year. It was clear they had to take action.

“That’s why Home of Hope Kenya was started,” she said, referring specifically to the 30-acre dump site. It’s believed about 20 children are left to die there each month. The Home of Hope Dream Centre has been established as an orphanage for these children, and to date about 19 have been saved, she said.

The ministry even has men regularly patrolling the dumpsite to watch for people attempting to abandon babies. They can then intervene and offer the services of Home of Hope as a life-saving alternative before it’s too late.

“Others have been found there and taken to the hospital,” explains Paterson. “They’re still there because they are so in need of medical attention. But they are being sponsored through us to make sure they’re getting the food and clothing they need as well.

“Hopefully, they can move into the Dream Centre when they are healthy enough.”

The children’s circumstances are indeed heartbreaking. Directly after one particular boy was born, he was given to his elderly uncle and aunt. When they passed away, all of his relatives rejected him. According to Home of Hope Kenya, a social worker found the child tied to a tree to die because he was already dying of malnutrition.

Another was abandoned by his ill mother. A Home of Hope employee heard that she was planning on giving two of her three children to relatives, and abandoning another. Staff intervened and told her about Home of Hope. The mother released custody of the child to the organization.

Another infant was abandoned because he was conceived out of incest. The family believed he would bring grief and didn’t want anything to do with him. He is now safe in the Home of Hope, said Paterson.

According to the Home of Hope Kenya, more than half the population of Nairobi’s three million citizens live in slums. Kenyan slums are among the poorest in the world, and every 14 minutes a child is orphaned or abandoned in the nation.

Ultimately, serving people in these nations is a natural extension of ministry, as Paterson points out there are some 2,000 verses in the Bible that address the issues of poverty and justice.

Locally, anyone interested in the Home of Hope projects can certainly help out. Paterson said monetary donations are always welcome to assist with the ministry, plus folks can sponsor children in Kenya, Rwanda and India through Home of Hope. They also welcome people to offer their expertise, skills or resources to help out in Kenya, India, Rwanda or Canada.

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