Continuing crisis in Zimbabwe spurs one BIC church to action

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Feb. 4, 2009)—In recent weeks, international news outlets have reported on Zimbabwe’s increasing need for food aid (7 million people now require some form of assistance, according to the World Food Program) and its 60,000-case cholera epidemic caused by breakdowns in sanitation infrastructure. In light of these conditions, one Brethren in Christ congregation has stepped up its relief efforts.

Endeavoring to send much-needed supplies to Steve and Chris Newcomer, BICWM missionaries serving at the Ekuphileni Bible Institute (EBI) upon the request of the Zimbabwean BIC Church, Five Forks BIC ( Waynesboro, Pa.) recently raised over $15,000 (USD) through special Sunday morning offerings. The congregation used $8,000 (USD) to ship a 40’ container to the Newcomers. Steve reports that the contents—non-perishable food items, machinery parts, school supplies, textbooks, clothing, sports equipment, and other items—have been put to good use at both EBI and in surrounding villages. Much of the donated clothing, Steve says, was distributed “to our neighbors at Mtshabezi who have not been able to purchase clothing for years.”

With the additional $7,000 (USD) from Five Forks, Steve and Chris purchased a truck trailer (to be used in transporting food from neighboring South Africa into Zimbabwe), as well as many new text resources for the EBI library.

Five Forks BIC member Ken Kipe also responded to news of Zimbabwe’s limited clean water access by constructing two simple water purification units (made of a concrete-poured mold and PVC pipe fittings). Similar units have provided potable water for rural villages in other African countries, but due to the scarcity of necessary building supplies in Zimbabwe, Steve and Chris turned to their U.S. supporters for assistance.

“Ken constructed [the units] in one week and packed them in the container,” Steve reports. “What a blessing it will be to be able to construct bio-sand filtration units at individual villages so that people can have clean water.”

Additional stories from BBC News: