Six Summers in Zimbabwe


John Ross has traveled to Zimbabwe every summer for the last six years. In Zimbabwe, A Jesus Church partners with Hands of Hope to help those who need it most: the poor, orphans, and widows. AJC supports four orphan homes in the community and regularly send volunteers to teach Vacation Bible School and provide skills training. John’s story shows that everyone has skills to use when they’re serving the Lord.

Mike McDonald, the director of Hear the Cry, spoke to the crowd and asked, “Is there anyone who would like to go to Zimbabwe for two months to serve?” I walked up to the stage, introduced myself, and said “Yes.” I mean, really, what else was I going to do better with my time that summer than serve orphans in Africa? I was working with the Trail Blazers and asked if I could take two months off to go to Africa. They said it would be OK, and so me and another young man (whom I would not meet until I arrived at the airport) were off to Zimbabwe.

We arrived and after a night’s rest, met with the three National Directors. “Do you guys fix things?” “No,” we said. “Are you plumbers?” “No,” we replied as Evan and I stared blankly at each other. “Are you electricians?” “No,” as Evan and I stared dejectedly at one another. Then they capped it off, with the look of confusion on their own faces, “Well, what do you guys do then?” We shamefacedly said, “We just came to help.”

The directors gave us some paint and brushes and took us to a fence. We began painting and soon, kids started huddling around us. We started playing with the kids, and they helped us paint. We were invited to dinner with the kids, and then were asked to lead Bible study and prayer. It seemed that the National Directors had found our skills and exclaimed, “They are good with kids! They make kids smile!”

And there you have it. Six years later, I still return each summer to Zimbabwe to help make kids smile.

Zimbabwe has the highest number of orphans per capita in the world, with a total of about 1.5 million orphans in a population of 14 million. A Jesus Church (AJC) supports an organization called Hands of Hope Africa (HOH), who help care for orphans. HOH partners with local churches in Zimbabwe and care for orphans by providing housing, clothes, food, and schooling.

After my two months in Zimbabwe, I felt like family. I came back the next year, and something had changed in a good way. A new level of trust had formed. Kids opened up to me about their stories and who they were. I decided to come back a third year, and something had changed again. Kids now opened up about their story to our entire team. We had become a big family. There was a level of trust between the AJC family and the HOH family that allowed us to serve and love one another at a deeper level.

When AJC began working with the HOH children, the kids were mostly newborns to 14 years old. The ages now range from newborns to 22 years old. Our model of ministry has evolved from simply Vacation Bible School (VBS) to VBS and skills training. Children from the homes we support have obtained jobs as a Female Police Officer, Baker, Hospitality Workers, and College Students. We are so proud of them all!

We have a team heading to Zimbabwe next week, from August 6­22, and we have 2 girls who have already been serving there for a month. We have another couple from AJC who have been doing a medical clinic for the summer in a rural Zimbabwean area. We can’t wait to share more stories and tell you more about the kids when we return! Thank you for praying for and with us and joining us on this journey.