Midtown: Community

Kenya trip empowers orphans

Ann MacCormac and her 12-year-old daughter, Ella Fischer, headed to Kenya last month on a mission trip, but not to help build a school or repair local homes, typical mission activities.

Instead, the mother and daughter spent the week getting to know orphans who are raising their younger siblings so that they could share the children’s stories with fellow members at Soapstone United Methodist and others in the Triangle as part of the Zimbabwe Orphan Endeavor Ministry.

For the past few years, Soapstone UMC has provided financial assistance to the ZOE Ministry, which empowers orphans by helping them secure their own shelter, teaching health and food security lessons and providing vocational education. After completing the three-year ZOE program, the heads of households, who are typically older children or teens, are able to earn enough income to provide food and shelter for their younger siblings.

This past year, Soapstone UMC members decided that they wanted to adopt a group of orphans and encouraged all church members to reduce spending on Christmas presents so they could support the ZOE program. The congregation raised $27,000 and was able to adopt two orphan groups, more than 200 orphans.

As ambassadors of the program, MacCormac and Ella traveled to Kenya to meet the youngsters that the church’s donations are helping. In the coming months, several other church members will also head to Africa as part of the ministry.

“It was really inspiring to see a program that doesn’t just give a hand out, but helps them to be self-sufficient,” MacCormac said. “It was amazing to see what God is doing for them and how he is raising them up. He is giving them hope and a future.

“We could see it in the children’s eyes.”

During the week, MacCormac and Ella spent most of their days talking with the children and learning about their daily challenges.

Ella became immediate friends with the local children, many of whom were her age but had the responsibility of caring for multiple children.

“When you boil it down, despite what they have been through, these are just kids,” MacCormac said.

In Africa, the orphans are often shunned by the community, but when visitors come specifically to spend time with them, it helps improve their social standing and ability to provide for their families. MacCormac visited one of the orphans who had just started her own seamstress business, and one of the community elders asked whether MacCormac was giving the orphan money. He looked very surprised when MacCormac told him she was buying a dress for herself from the girl.

“By being able to show their neighbors that they have skills, we can help increase their standing in the community,” MacCormac said. “The program is not about giving, but about empowering and helping them work their way out of poverty.”

To learn more about the ZOE Ministry, visit www.zoeministry.org. To talk to MacCormac or schedule her speak at a church, contact Soapstone United Methodist Church at 919-846-2212.

Hope Community Church

Hope Community Church is holding its monthly singles worship night from 7 to 9:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the church, 821 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh. Singles of all ages will share a potluck meal, socialize and enjoy live music. Dr. Greg Belcher, pastor of single adults, will share a message on “When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life’s Desperate Moments.” For more information, email singles@gethope.net, or visit facebook.com/hccjourney.

The church also invites current volunteers and anyone interested in serving the community to Serve 2012 from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at the Raleigh campus. The afternoon includes large group sessions, break out discussions, giveaways and worship. Reimbursement for child care costs is available. For more information, visit www.gethope.com or call 919-532-0620.

Soup on Sunday

The community is invited to a monthly Soup on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 4801 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. The free meal is held on the second Sunday of each month, and this month’s menu is honey-glazed pork chops, cucumber salad, dessert, iced tea and lemonade. For more information, call Bill Zeiss at 919-210-5016.

Windborne UMC GriefShare

Windborne United Methodist is offering its first 13-week GriefShare session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. starting Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the church, 9121 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. GriefShare is a Christian support group and seminar for people who have lost loved ones. The program consists of a video presentation and a group discussion. For more information about GriefShare, visit www.Griefshare.org. To register, call 919-386-0212 or visit www.windborneumc.org.