What difference can three weeks make? For Ken Martens, member of Northview Community Church, Abbotsford, B.C., and his brother-in-law Jake Janzen of Willow Park Church, Kelowna, B.C., participating in a DMI (Disciple Making International) door-to-door evangelism campaign in Africa changed their lives – and the lives of almost 60 African orphans.
At the end of Janzen and Martens’ trip to Tanzania, local leader Nelson Penford approached them on behalf of his church in Mwanza, Tanzania, to start a project to aid the many orphans, widows and poor families in the area of the church.
And so the Mwanza Project was born in spring 2007.
“We are in awe of what God has done in the seven years since we stepped out in faith,” says Janzen.
Janzen and Martens along with their wives Jeanne and Jan, began the charity to raise money to support orphans. At the outset, they provided for 15 orphans; by the end of 2014, the Mwanza project was supporting 58 children and a few young adults in college/university, including one young man in medical school.
Penford, “a young man who loves the Lord as well as the orphans,” directs the project along with 10 board members from his church, Nyanza Baptist.
The Mwanza Project provides personal necessities, education (including books, school uniforms, tutoring for exams), medical help and clothing.
Each month, truckloads of food (rice, maize, beans) arrive at the church where they are divided into smaller sacks that go to the homes where a caregiver looks after an orphan child. These packages also supplement the caregiver’s family.
Janzen cites items of praise and prayer.
Prayer: the church building, a hub of activity, is built on land the government will re-appropriate for airport expansion. The members plan to deconstruct the bricks, lumber and zinc to rebuild the church along with a new kitchen and Christian education rooms at a new location.
A Canadian donor supplied funds to purchase a new location for the church. The foundation is in progress; the building will rise over the next year or two as funds become available.
“What a difference there has been in the lives of the orphans and their caregivers,” says Janzen, who, along with Martens and their wives, visits the orphans every two years. “We are thrilled to see their growth physically, as well as spiritually. When they are singing and dancing for the Lord, we thank God for his faithfulness and the privilege of serving him through this project.”