First, we are not a charitable organization or ministry, we are simply a family that has been stirred in our hearts to initiate a campaign to raise funds to build a new school for orphans in Zambia, Africa (specifically for the Ngombe compound near Lusaka where OUR kids live) through the ministry of Family Legacy.
This is a story of how a dad, his 18 year daughter (Isabel) and 16 year son (John Wyatt) became "crazy orphan people." Our journey actually started 3 years ago when a business acquaintance told me about a mission trip that he and his family took in the summer of 2012 to Zambia. Well, I went home and shared the conversation with Isabel and we decided to do some research on the ministry (I'm a bit of a skeptic so I wanted to make sure that this was not one of those organizations profiting from a charitable cause). After, spending quite a bit of time surfing the internet, watching videos, reading testimonies and sheading a few tears, it became obvious to us that Family Legacy was legitimately committed to one goal: transforming Zambia one child at a time by serving the needs of orphans. After completing our "investigation," Isabel suggested that maybe we should go to Zambia some day; my response was, maybe so, and then we went about our busy lives.
Now, fast forward 3 years to the early part of 2015. Isabel came to me and said, "Dad, remember that mission trip that we talked about a few years back, I think we should go this year." I suggested to her that we should pray about it and then we could discuss it some more; kind of expecting her interest to fade again. However, it never did. She kept prodding and nudging me to commit. So after much prayer and weeks of her constant begging, I finally surrendered and we signed up. She also managed to convince her brother, John Wyatt, to go with us. Within no time, it was June 25th and we were on a plane headed to Zambia -- both excited and nervous at the same time about the adventure that lay ahead. Once we had committed to go, we were praying for God to give us His heart and love for the orphans, and let us be His hands and feet during our time in Zambia. Be careful what you pray for!
After almost 3 days of travel, we touched down in Lusaka, which is the capital city of Zambia. The Family Legacy staff greeted us at the airport along with about 75 other Americans who had arrived the same day. Without much wait, we loaded on buses and headed for the 130 acre hilltop just outside of Lusaka owned by Family Legacy where we would be spending the week ministering to orphans. It was amazing to feel God's presence upon arrival at the hilltop that first day. Part of our welcome reception included several older Zambian orphans from the Tree of Life Children's Village performing songs of worship; it was overwhelming. It would be the first of many tears shed during our entire trip.
That beautiful hilltop (or slice of heaven) is where we would be spending most of our time the following week serving as American Ambassadors for a group of orphans at Camp LIFE. Camp LIFE is a little like summer church camp. Each American Ambassador leads 10 orphans for the one week camp. So with almost 100 Americans at camp, we would be serving and leading over 1,000 orphans. Throughout the week, we spent time with our 10 kids singing songs, playing games, and sharing the love of Jesus. The desire is to show each child how much God loves them and how much we love them. This includes big group sessions, small group sessions and one-on-one sessions with each orphan. For many of them this is the best week of their entire year.
Before the first day of Camp LIFE, we had the opportunity to tour one of the slum compounds surrounding Lusaka. There are over 20+ compounds in the area that are populated with 1000's of orphans in the most impoverished conditions imaginable. It was the most humbling sight to experience; and it broke our hearts at the deepest level. It would be these shanty town orphans that we would be spending a week with at Camp LIFE. After the tour, we were prepared, more than ever, to pour our love into these children at camp -- we couldn't wait to give out hugs from their Heavenly Father and shine a little glimmer of hope into their lives!
First day of Camp LIFE! Isabel was assigned her own group of 10 young girls (ages 8-12) and John Wyatt and I paired up with our group of 10 boys (ages 10-13). All of our children were from one of the slum compounds called Ngombe. There were very few smiles from the kids when camp started (that would change) but it was non-stop activity all day. This year the Camp LIFE theme was Amazing Grace; and we witnessed God's grace on display all week. We sang, danced and watched skits at the big group sessions; shared lessons about God's grace and love during small group secessions; and really got to know each of our kids during the one-on-one sessions called Blessing Time. Blessing Time was a special opportunity to sit-down with each child individually and learn details about their lives and their living conditions. During this time, they would share their struggles, hardships and worries; and we would pray and encourage them. It's a special time where God tears down walls of darkness, removes barriers, and opens and nits hearts between the American and the orphan. It's an emotional time that will produce tears of sadness but also tears of joy.
Zambia has the highest orphan rate per capita than any country in the world. Most of our kids were double orphans (no mom or dad in their lives). Most of their parents had died, and some parents had abandoned them. Many lived with a grandparent or aunt and/or uncle, who in many cases didn't really want them and considered them a burden. Most were abused and only ate one meal a day -- and some did not receive a meal at all some days. But even though there seemed to be little hope in their lives, they all had dreams. Dreams to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, business-owners, engineers, pilots, etc. However, only 4 out of our 20 kids had ever been to school; but they all dreamed of an education that would give them a future. They were all extremely bright and wished for a "better life."
It was amazing to see the transformation of our kids throughout camp... BUT, camp was also transforming us. God was answering our prayer and we were falling in love with HIS children and growing closer to HIM. The more we poured our hearts into them and the more they learned about their Heavenly Father's amazing grace; the brighter their smiles became. Many prayed during the week to receive God's gift of eternal life and placed their trust in Christ. There was truly a joy and peace in them that surpassed all understanding. We had never experienced the power of God's word and His Spirit like this before. God was transforming them before our eyes. ["Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things become new." 1 Corinthians 5:17] They were truly becoming NEW creations. They found the Father that they never had; a Father who is the creator of heaven and earth, who is faithful, loving, merciful, all powerful, all wise, all knowing, a healer, a provider, a protector, a redeemer, and a Savior. A Father who listens to their crys and comforts them. They were no longer orphans in His eyes; they were His children. And by the end of the week, they had also become OURS! Ours to pray for. Ours to point to a Savior. Ours to encourage and lift up. Ours to support. Ours to talk about. Ours to visit. Ours to educate. Ours to never abandon. Ours to love. Ours to provide a hope and a future!
And then it was over. Camp LIFE had come to an end. We had to say goodbye to OUR children. Our little group from Ngombe. The ones that we now call our family. It was incredibly emotional putting our kids on the bus that last day, but the first thought that came to us after the last goodbye, with tears still in our eyes, was... How can we continue to help? We did not want this to be the end. We wanted to do much more. We wanted these children to feel loved year round, not just one week out of the summer. We wanted them to have the opportunity to fulfill their dream of a better life. We wanted them to have that education that would provided them with a hope and a future. We felt God calling us to continue to be His hands and feet to these orphans beyond camp, and to be a voice for them after we returned home. And God quickly gave us direction...
First, God provided an opportunity for us to continue to support our kids through Family Legacy's Father's Heart sponsorship program where each orphan can receive an education, Christian discipleship and a healthy meal each day at a Legacy Academy school. Family Legacy currently has 18 schools in the compounds surrounding Lusaka, including the Ngombe compound where our children live. As a sponsor, you also get to develop an ongoing relationship and spiritual bond with each child through letter writing, prayer and visits to Zambia. So in a certain sense, you are spiritually, emotionally, and financially adopting a Zambian orphan; what an amazing privilege and honor. We are excited to report that God has provided sponsors for most of our 20 children not long after we returned home from Zambia. However, there remains a few sponsorship opportunities (see our Sponsorship Page). To witness the impact of sponsorship through the Father's Heart program, watch this testimony: The Impact of Child Sponsorship. The Father's Heart program is an amazing way to change the life of an orphan, and we feel blessed to be able to support and participate in impacting each child. However, we felt God moving in our hearts do MORE.
The seed of that "more" was planted when we toured the Legacy Academy school in the Ngombe compound on the Thursday during camp. This would be the school where our sponsored
children would attend. The property was a small rented facility that was previously an old bar and brothel. The school had been renovated, but still needed work,
and was reaching capacity due to its size and condition. At the time of our tour, it concerned us that so many Ngombe orphans would be deprived of the opportunity to
attend a Legacy Academy school simply because of the property constraints. Therefore, when we began to seek God's call to do more, it wasn't long before we felt convicted to build
a new school for the orphans of Ngombe. The new school would be equipped to
educate 100's of more children with larger classrooms, a library, computer lab, school lunch facility and much more. Our giant prayer is that by God's grace this new school would start
a revival in the hearts of each Ngombe orphan, the Ngombe compound, the capital city Lusaka and the country Zambia. It would be a beacon of hope and a future for all the
orphans of Ngombe -- the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of a "better life."
So with a goal to build a new school and accomplish the objectives listed above, we have initiated a fundraising campaign that we are calling Nikukonda! Ngombe! ("I Love You! Ngombe!"). To kick off the campaign, our family has committed a $250,000 matching grant to construct the new school. For ever dollar donated, we will match, up to $250,000. We trust that God will provide the resources to complete this project and we will soon be breaking ground on the new school. Our dream is to return to Zambia next summer and share with our Ngombe children the excitement of a new school.
If you would like to help us fulfill the orphans dreams of a better life and support our campaign to build a new school, please donate here: Hinds Family - Ngombe Legacy Academy
In case you missed it, you can watch the main video of our trip on the bottom of the Home page.