Zimbabwe: Messiah Alumni sharing in a common mission
|Messiah alumni participating in a service trip to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe during the summer of 2006 (left to right): Ellen (Ferris) Shaffer '05 and Nate Shaffer '05, Ariana Ruffing '04, Jack Miller '02, Linn (Beers) Worrall '01, Angie (Zimmerman) Niner '04, Amy (Miller) Hood '00, Kate Binder '04, Ryan Keith '02.
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe was the location of an inadvertent Messiah College alumni reunion this past August. Nine alumni from the Central-Pennsylvania area joined Forgotten Voices International (FVI) and the West Shore Evangelical Free Church of Mechanicsburg, Pa., for a two-week mission trip to Zimbabwe.
When the team was initially formed, it was immediately obvious that nine of the ten members were Messiah College alumni. Each had been involved in service and cross-cultural experiences as students, and this trip allowed them to continue the spirit of service and mission fostered during their time at Messiah College.
The team joined FVI’s work of empowering HIV/AIDS orphans in Southern Africa. Zimbabwe faces a severe HIV/AIDS epidemic which has resulted in an estimated 1 million orphaned children throughout the country. The FVI team participated in home visits, initiated day-camps for orphaned children, worked with a church in the low-income suburbs, and spent a week at a rural, Brethren in Christ mission hospital and AIDS clinic.
One common theme throughout the trip was the need to share the stories of Zimbabwean people with friends, families, and others back in the United States. These include stories of children as young as nine-years-old becoming heads-of-household when both parents succumb to AIDS, grandparents taking in an increasing number of grandchildren as the middle generation of the family dies, and families not having enough funds to send their children to school or get medical attention for those who are sick. But there are also stories of the dedicated AIDS workers providing relief and support for the AIDS-affected individuals in their country, stories of churches putting differences aside and coming together to serve their communities, and stories of amazing faith in God in the midst of incredible trials. You can find journal entries from the alumni and more stories from Zimbabwe at www.ForgottenVoices.org.
--Linn (Beers) Worrall '01 and Ellen (Ferris) Shaffer '05
Linn is the manager of gift processing and donor recognition at Messiah and Ellen is the admissions office visit coordinator