Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Mission: Thrive Africa

A few months ago, I was reading one of the posts on Pete Wilson’s blog, Without Wax, and he was asking us where our passion lies. People knew their answers without hesitation: human trafficking, feeding the poor, supporting mission work, church plants, youth groups.

People knew their heart’s passion and what they were willing to fight for.

I didn’t. I mean, I believe in all of those causes and have a heart for all of them. I have empathy and a desire to help. But as Pete pointed out, sometimes when we blindly go through life thinking all things are equally important to us, we can miss what God is really calling us to do.

Where is my passion? How do I want my voice to be used?

I’ve been trying to really pay attention, and one cause has stood out every single time.

I believe in Thrive Africa. And more than anything, I want to see this mission succeed.

The reasons are many, not the least of which is that I believe in Alece, the founder of this mission. She is my friend who will be coming here to visit next month, and I’m hoping to twist her arm to write something directly from her heart to all of you while she’s here. I know her. I know her heart. I know how much she loves the people of Africa and feels called to, as her mission’s name reflects, help Africa Thrive.

My faith in Alece is key, because I know that any money given to this mission is being spent for the good of the people she lives with and supports. But more than that, I respect the way they are going about helping the country. You can learn more through their mission statement:

Thrive Africa’s vision is to disciple Believers, equip leaders, and strengthen the Church in Southern Africa. We accomplish this through AIDS prevention, pastoral development, discipleship classes, youth camps, mission trips, and more.

The key word, to me, is that they equip the people in the country. They don’t want to change Africa, they want to empower Africans. Currently, Thrive employs [pay salaries to] 52 nationals… each one a young local leader who they’ve trained and eventually hired. They are equipping the people of Africa with respect and love and hope.

And their way of helping is working.

Currently, 1 in 4 South Africans are HIV positive. Thrive Africa teaches AIDS prevention and leadership development at 10 schools in the poorest area of South Africa. There is an 88% unemployment rate, and 75% of the people are chronically hungry. They have been hungry for food, but also for the tools that can make a difference in their lives.

Thrive Africa is feeding their needs. Before they began this program, one school averaged 40 pregnancies a year among 7th, 8th and 9th graders. In the four years Thrive’s program has been taught, there has not been one single pregnancy.

Not one.

They are currently teaching 4000 students. 4000 lives that are being changed for the better. Knowledge is key. Equipping leaders is key. Spreading the Word has made a difference in lives that have been hungry in so many ways.

Why am I starting to talk about this now? One, because I feel passionately about it. Two, because Thrive Africa is in dire need of help.  According to their newsletter:

They have scaled down costs as much as they are able, and have started an online store to help promote their mission and raise funds. You can check out their store from the graphic on my left sidebar… they have some great products and [from what I hear] amazing coffee. :)

If you want to learn more about Thrive’s programs, you can visit Impact South Africa and discover how you can help make a difference. They are changing lives. And those lives will help create a difference in their country.

I’m so proud to be a part of it.

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