What’s it like to deal with COVID-19 in Africa? What’s it like not to have any public health system? What’s it like not to have Wi-Fi in quarantine? What’s it like to have no phone? What’s it like to have no clean water to wash hands? In America we have inconvenience and disruption. In Africa it’s an apocalypse. Key of Hope is a mission we’ve supported for many years at HUMC through a second mile offering. We’ve enjoyed their choir tours as well as visits from Rachel and Dan Smithers the co-founders of this vibrant Christian ministry among AIDS orphans in Durban, South Africa.
During COVID they’ve had to shut down most of their programs except for food parcels, medical transport and access to health care. Before the crisis hit they were providing close to 250 food parcels a week. That number is now over 1000. Dan writes, “There is no CARES Act for Africa. There are no food banks, soup kitchens, or checks from the government on the way. We are the safety net. There never was a more ‘essential service.’ Our work must continue!” Dan and Rachel are living illustrations of Christian courage and hope.
Recently Rachel Smithers shared that her own father has been diagnosed with cancer. This led her to reflect on the African children she serves—most of whom don’t know who their own father is or what any father is. Rachel tells this story:
A 14-year-old boy wanted to talk to me - he needed help. As I sat down across from him, tears began to form in his big, beautiful black eyes. He told me he was hungry. Okay, I thought, I can fix this! I can make sure he has food every month by adding him to our monthly feeding program. I told him the good news. When I saw the tears continue to form, and then roll thickly down his cheeks, I knew there was more to the story. After a while, he softly spoke what was really bothering him… he never knew his father . . . he was fatherless.
Key of Hope believes in the power of fatherhood. Key of Hope believes that each one of us, who has experienced unconditional love from our Heavenly Father, has a role to play in making that a reality for our kids. Children make up 35% of the South African population. Most of these children are at great risk but they are also the key to unlock the future for this nation.
I rejoice that through the generous financial support of HUMC members this ministry is able to flourish. You can learn more about them at www.keyofhope.org. Donate if you can. Most certainly pray for Dan and Rachel now in their 12th year of serving in Africa and for the Christian mission of Key of Hope!