As is often the case, George speaks and people listen. It was no different for us at Lakeview Church in Saskatoon, Canada. After having heard the heart wrenching stories of orphaned children living in squalor, of grandmothers forced to work well into old age to feed the grandchildren they were now responsible for, of violence, heartache and despair, we were weighed down by the heaviness of oppression. But the story wasn’t left there. George then painted a picture of solidarity and hope, brought about through the unification of the church doing true religion, “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1v27). Many of us at Lakeview fell in love with the vision.
Soon after George spoke, a few people from the congregation formed a group of advocates who called themselves “Lakeview Hands”. They started spreading the news about the call on the church to serve the poorest of the poor. Slowly people started making trips, on their own and then in groups. Of course as more and more people met and fell in love with people in Africa, it seemed practical to come up with ways to raise awareness and money at home in order to support Hands at Work in Africa. The wider church body became involved around Christmas 2008 when the church launched an Advent Conspiracy campaign with all money going to support a community in Zambia.
The campaign was a great success in getting the word out about Hands at Work. The money raised built a small schoolhouse and provided food, education and basic health care to over 50 children in the desperate slum - Mulenga, Zambia. Following that there were a number of fundraisers including an “ice-cream sundae sale” and “massive yard sale”, which together raised over $4000...
One of the members of Lakeview Hands, Kali Nunweiler, sold some treasures she had purchased on a visit to Zambia from local community-based organizations partnered with Hands. The items were very popular and sold out with the $2700 returning to the communities in Zambia. Another member, Crystal Nataraj, hosted a creative clothing exchange at her house where popular items were auctioned off. At Christmas 2009 Lakeview again launched the Advent Conspiracy campaign and was met with greater success than the previous year as more people had heard and seen and been changed by the stories and the people of Africa.
The fundraisers have served not only as a way to raise some money for Hands at Work, but also to build community within the church. The events have allowed for those of us who have been changed by Africa to remember the experiences we’ve had and the people we met. It also encourages us to stay accountable to the many other orphans who are still to be reached, though so far, from where we are here in Canada.