05 Jan THANK YOU! Grateful for an amazing year of ministry in East Africa
Wow! We just completed an incredible year of ministry together! All glory and thanks goes to God as well as major gratitude to our awesome global community! Together we are seeing hope rekindled, lives transformed by the Good News of Jesus, locally-run ministries and churches expand, hungry bellies fed, and young men and women graduate and begin lives of service and work as adults. We get to see miracles happening – right in front of our eyes!
It is hard to count all of the blessings God has provided over the past year. It is hard to tell all of the stories of hope and change taking place. But here is a list of the top 10 things we are excited about as we close out 2017.
Our key initiative is our Child Sponsorship Program. During the past year generous and compassionate sponsors from around the world sponsored 94 new kids! This is a record number for Lahash. We can’t wait to see these relationships develop and these beautiful kids receive the care and support now available to them! We now care for 366 kids in four nations. Sponsored child Tonny expressed his thanks: “I thank God for helping me study. I was not going to school in South Sudan. God brought me to Uganda, and brought Lahash to find and sponsor me.”
Our global community gave generously this past year! We’ve see steady growth in our contributions over the past several years and this year was no different. Gifts came in abundance for our sponsored kids, for our Christmas Giving program, for special projects, and even gifts to our staff. We are still stunned by the generous hearts who invested in the ministry this year.
Evangelism and discipleship are key to our holistic care strategy. Our partners are passionate about kids knowing Jesus and growing in their spiritual journeys. During the summer, our partners put on four different Bible Camps for 200 of the children. During those gatherings, 47 children decided to put their trust in Christ and start a new life in him. Praise God!
#4. 19 Young men and women in Stand With Students
Our higher education mentorship and scholarship program is called Stand with Students. During the past year 19 young men and women received life skills, mentoring from local church mentors, and many attended trade school, college, or university. Two graduated from university during the year! One graduate shared: “My name is called Sarah Night. Today I will tell the whole world that I am happy, I’ve grown up, I’ve gone to school. Thanks goes to all the communities of Lahash – for those ones who have given in. Be blessed. You guys are so, so, beautiful.”
Our program for developing diverse leaders for local and global ministry is called Servant Teams. During 2017 the Servant Team wrapped up their service time in Tanzania and participant Yevette Garcia ended up joining our staff! Yevette shared as she joined, “God has been preparing me to embrace and practice loving others in ways that transcend the confines of a church building and spreads out and flourishes into the community.”
#6. 96.4% Sponsorship Retention Rate
This point is a little on the geeky side. But we are so proud of our sponsors. We love them and appreciate their compassion and connection to all of these special kids. Often in this field of work it is common to see 10-20% of sponsors need to end their giving during a year for various reasons. But this year 96.4% of Lahash sponsors remained committed to the program! We are amazed at this level of trust and want to keep working hard to maintain it! One sponsor shared that she was “so deeply blessed beyond measure to have been introduced to your team and [I’m] excited to see what God will continue to do! Our goal for 2017 is: GIVE MORE!!”
#7. Four staff fully funded
All of our staff at Lahash raise support and receive donations from friends, family, and churches for their work on our team (a few receive a bit of supplemental support). This allows the vast majority of donations to head to East Africa to help out more kids! It can often be a challenge to raise financial support over the year. But this year we had 4 staff who were fully funded! And two staff members had their support networks fully fund vehicle purchases. Our staff continue to work hard to fund their positions – but we are grateful for the good progress made in 2017.
We minister in a challenging part of the world. Just this past year Kenya went through a chaotic and violent election process. The nation of South Sudan experienced even greater unrest and broke down in violence, hunger, and displacement. We worked with our South Sudanese partners to bring awareness, essential supplies, prayer, and advocacy for the people affected by the civil unrest. The campaign brought relief in the form of blankets, food, clothes, soap, and other materials to the refugees living in camps in northern Uganda and South Sudan.
We had our most amazing year yet of Rice & Beans Month. Each year we invite people into this quirky and life-transforming event where we eat simple meals and then share those savings with the needy. During 2017 we had five churches partner with us along with hundreds of individuals and families. We loved hearing the stories from these churches and seeing the profound spiritual transformation take place. One participant shared with us that she “just wanted to express how much the Rice & Beans Month has meant to me and has blessed us and challenged us to live differently throughout the year. The experience is so meaningful and rich each day. Thank you for this amazing vision that brings us into solidarity with East Africa and challenges us to draw near to the heart of Christ.” Over $19,000 was shared and went on to provide sustainable agriculture grants and emergency food supplies for needy kids.
#10. Winter Fundraising Banquet
Our headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon. During the winter of 2017 we held a Celebration and Fundraising banquet to connect with new sponsors and help fund the year of work ahead. The banquet was a huge success and we saw 33 children sponsored during that evening alone! Our partner from Tanzania, Esther Muhagachi, traveled to share as our keynote speaker.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for partnering with us in this exciting ministry!
Onward to 2018!
We are looking forward to this new year. We will be building a new school in Kenya, expanding our Sponsorship Program, hosting a training conference for our East African partners, and continuing to work to impact lives for Jesus around the world.
We cherish your partnership and prayers as we set out together in this new year.