Verse of the Day

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sister Connection in Burundi

Photo from Sister
If you love Africa and feel led to help those in need, take a look at Sister Connection. My friend, Denise Patch, started this organization designed to serve widows and orphans in Burundi, Africa. Currently, Denise is attempting to raise funds to provide widows and orphans with a summer camp opportunity. This is a wonderful way to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Please consider sponsoring a widow or an orphan! Giving is so easy, and can change a life forever.

This is from Sister Connection's Facebook page:

From the President's Desk . . .

"I have two chickens and they are laying eggs. If you were near, I could send you some eggs, but I am afraid that they cannot reach you safely."
-- Beatrice, Sister Connection widow

When I was a child growing up in Burundi, I loved having guests drop in unannounced. As we welcomed them in, they would give my mom a basket wrapped in colorful cloth. In keeping with their custom of opening gifts in private, she would take the basket to the kitchen, untie the cloth, and lift the lid off the basket to reveal some food item from our visitor's garden or livestock. Often it was eggs. Mom would remove the eggs, and fill the basket with a gift from our pantry. Often it was white sugar--a luxury item for our subsistence gardener friends.

One year, a devastating drought brought horrible famine. Their staple crop, beans, had failed. Our Burundian friends were hungry and always short of food. Though my missionary parents launched relief efforts in collaboration with international organizations to bring beans to the region, it was taking time. For weeks, the beans from last year's harvest grew scarce, and hunger was escalating to starvation. It was during this time we received a visit from one of the local pastors. He and his wife were special friends to our family. Though I was young, I noticed the signs of stark hunger in their faces. Their cheeks were sunken and they looked frail. In their eyes, however, the light still shone, and their love for Jesus and for us was strong. When they handed my mom the traditional gift, I went with her to the kitchen. She unwrapped the beautiful cloth, and slowly lifted the lid off the basket.

What she found there brought my mom to tears. Nestled in the basket was a small pile of beans. For a few minutes, she stood there with her head hanging from slumped shoulders, broken by the sacrificial love of our friends.

"How can we receive these beans?" she whispered. "This is probably the last of their supply. How can I give them sugar when they need these beans? Yet, how can I refuse their gift?"

My heart was changed in that moment. As I stood looking at two handfuls of pinto beans, I saw Jesus. I was only 10 years old, but I understood that what looked like a pile of dried beans was actually a sacrifice of love that could cost our friends their lives. It sounds silly to think a basket of beans bearing the value of life, but the famine was severe. Our friends had just given us from the last of their food, knowing we didn't need it, but wanting to show us how much they loved us.

It hurts to be loved that deeply.

That's how deeply our widows and orphans love you. Whether you sponsor them, build homes for them, give scholarships to orphans, contribute to critical needs, send their children to camp, or give to the "ministry support" fund so Sister Connection can exist, they love you for it. Our widows and orphans consider your love, provision and prayers to be among the greatest gifts they have ever received. Out of their poverty, they would give you their best-because they want to show you how much they love you. The ocean prevents you from receiving a basket wrapped in colorful cloth filled with eggs or beans, but I hope you receive it in your heart.

The gift we want to provide to over 500 widows this summer is a spiritual retreat, and we also want to give the gift of camp to over 1300 orphans. Three days filled with fellowship, worship, encouragement, teaching, laughter, tears, prayer, and as many beans as they can eat.

Your participation in this gift has already been incredible. To date we have received $20,386 toward our need of $50,000 (about $30 per widow or child). $29,614 is still needed for all to participate. Together, I believe we can fill the basket with enough beans to feed the hearts, minds, and bodies of our widows and orphans.

If you would like to be part of this gift, here are three ways to contribute:

• Give online
• Give by credit or debit card over the phone by calling our office at 623-882-1393.
• Contribute to this gift by mail: Sister Connection c/o FMF, PO Box 580, Spring Arbor, MI 49283.


Denise Vibbert Patch
Sister Connection

P.S. We are hoping to receive all the funds by June 15 to give our Burundian team enough time to plan food and transportation before the first camp begins on July 9.

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