Seekers Church continues to support many missions and ministries in the United States and other countries. The amount budgeted for international giving this year approaches 20% of what we expect to receive in offerings over the course of the year. Once our budget for the year was approved, and the overall amount available for international giving had been determined by the Stewards of Seekers Church, all Seekers were invited to request support for missions or ministries where they are personally involved.
After worship on February 19th the community met to determine how our international giving will be distributed. At that community meeting we affirmed support for 13 international missions and ministries:
Here are the international missions and ministries we are supporting this year. To visit their web sites, click on the name of the organization.
WORDE is a nonprofit, educational organization whose mission is to enhance communication and understanding between communities to mitigate social and political conflict. Utilizing a research-informed foundation for programming, they identify drivers of conflict and opportunities for building strong, resilient communities. They believe that providing networks with the right resources to build community resilience against extremism is a requisite component to any long-term development strategy for building communities. Our work accomplishes this by investing in human capital and strengthening civil society by mobilizing local leaders, establishing community centers that emphasize civic responsibility, and providing institutional capacity building to those who share our vision.
- One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is to overcome radical ideologies that play a role in social conflict, political instability, and terrorism. WORDE believes that this ideological battle is the critical issue for which humanity must take a stand.
- The most effective strategy to counter radical ideologies is to utilize its theological inverse: moderate Muslims who share common values of social justice, freedom and pluralism.
- Their work is guided by the belief that terrorism is bred by ignorance and is fanned by extremists who attempt to legitimize political agendas by framing their rhetoric in religious terminology. With the right resources and education, moderate religious leaders and their institutions can serve as a prime bulwark against radicalism.
- Comprehensive public policies require thoughtful collaboration as we struggle with the new ideological dimensions which affect our world. WORDE hopes to strengthen the voice of the moderate mainstream around the world by providing them access to the public space and the opportunity to eradicate religious radicalism from within.
WORDE has feet on the ground in a number of countries including, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and more. They are active in meeting with the elders in the small villages where radical elements recruit to understand the issues and how the elders are working to prevent radicalization of their villages. They disseminate this information through a number of important agencies including regular presentations and panel discussions at the United Nations, and advice the secretaries of foreign affairs for specific countries, as well as working with individual and committees of Congress. Sandra Miller and the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group maintain active contact with WORDE.
New Story Leadership seeks to inspire a new story of possibility for the Middle East by bringing outstanding Israeli and Palestinian students to Washington DC to experience American culture, history and democracy. Through living, learning, and working together, these future leaders come to respect difference, not to fear it, and to view the conflict with new eyes. Before, during and after the program, NSL strives to support all its graduates as they return home with a new hope about building a better future together.
Seekers Church is pleased to be hosting the US office of New Story Leadership in our facility, and Pat Conover, other members of Seekers and the Eyes to See Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group maintain an active partnership with NSL, particularly during their annual visit to Washington D.C.
The Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation focuses on conducting Large-scale vaccination initiatives targeting children, youth, women of child-bearing age and at-risk health care workers. To date, over 10 million individuals have benefited from the Foundation’s vaccination programs throughout the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.
RVF has signed an agreement with the UAE Red Crescent Authority, USAID and the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) to provide for the universal vaccination of all infants in the West Bank and Gaza against rotavirus infection, which causes severe and potentially fatal diarrhea in babies. The vaccination program protects the entire birth cohort in the West Bank and Gaza, approximately 120,000 babies annually, from the scourge of this vaccine-preventable disease. USAID is supporting the vaccination of infants in the West Bank.
As of January 1, 2017, a total of 85,252 infants in both the West Bank and Gaza were vaccinated with the first dose of rotavirus vaccine. The coverage rate is 97%. 59,988 of those infants have also received the second dose of the vaccine. Billy Amoss, who directs the Foundation, maintains an active link with Seekers Church, along with the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group.
The Bokamoso Youth Foundation supports the Bokamoso Youth Centre, in Winterveldt, South Africa. Bokamoso seeks to empower at-risk youth through life and work skills training, professional counseling, and administration of scholarships for further education that are funded by the Bokamoso Youth Foundation. The Bokamoso (the Tswana word for "future") program has been offering hope and a future to the youth of Winterveldt since 1999.
Seekers supports the Centre through participation on the board of the Bokamoso Youth Foundation (USA), supporting an annual exchange program that brings twelve young people from Winterveldt to share their life stories through poetry, songs and theatrical performances with people in the US. The intent is to raise awareness of the challenges young people face in Winterveldt, South Africa, and to widen the circle of support for the youth of the Bokamoso Youth Centre.
Seekers Church has had a connection with Bokamoso that goes back many years. The Foundation grew out of a decade of support within Seekers for the emerging partnership with Bokamoso, and many of us are actively involved with Bokamoso. Roy Barber and Elese Sizemore have been central links in the long-term relationship.
During the annual visit from Bokamoso, Seekers Church sponsors a career workshop, to help Bokamoso members plan for future employment, and to support Bokamoso staff as they plan for the long-term viability of their program.
Seekers' link to the Othandweni Day Care at Winterveldt began in 2002 when Seekers were invited to help with its construction and the training of the Team to run what was then a guest house, designed to welcome visitors to the Bokamoso Life Centre and associated missions. In 2005, the Team added the Day Care operation. Presently they care for fifty neighborhood children at risk, many orphaned by HIV/AIDS. As a service to the community, they also run an After-School Program for about 60 junior high students. Othandweni provides an oasis of hope for pre-school children who otherwise would be running loose in a dangerous area, and for the junior high students a place to sing and dance and share their aspirations in a supportive environment.
In addition to financial support, Seekers has given time and technical support. In 2011, the Friends of Othandweni was formed to give more consistent support but with the goal that the Centre would eventually become sustainable with South African support. Linda Nunes-Schrag and Bill Drehmann maintain regular, supportive contact with Othandweni.
This organization is located in Lugazi, which is about 15 miles from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. The ministries offer spiritual support through the Power of God Worship Centre churches. Each church is encouraged to support the indigent. The organization trains women, youth and children in life-sufficiency skills. One such project is the women poverty alleviation project (WAP), run by the women of the church. The ministry also runs a training center in vocational and leadership skills that focusses on helping orphans, widows, street children, etc. It supports their education through provision of school fees and school supplies. The ministry is currently constructing a library, dormitory as well as a chemistry/physics library. Their secondary school project, also known as "Get Wise Secondary School," has done tremendous work in supporting children along with other outreach activities.
Mr. Henry Kaweesa, an Honorable High Court Judge and his wife are the founders, using money from their meager savings in addition to some support from well-wishers. They are looking for more support to continue and expand their project, particularly to buy benches and desks for the library and dining room. David Dongo visited the church during his last trip to Uganda, and he and Damalie Mirembe maintain contacts with the program.
Hope International supports the peace process in Myanmar. Hope has worked quietly behind the scenes for many years in Myanmar, with a particular commitment to supporting peaceful participation of the ethnic minorities of Myanmar. They do a variety of things, ranging from providing training to promising individuals, arranging consultations with key leaders on critical issues, conducting training in negotiation skills, helping ethnic communities set up schools that are respectful towards their own history, and more. Ron Kraybill, a member of Seekers Church has conducted training for Hope on a recurring basis for 15 years and is currently spending about 1 month every 4 months there providing training in facilitation skills. Ron continues to work with Hope International, supported by other members of the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group.
PAVA (Aid Program for Highland Communities) is a Guatemalan non-govermental organization (NGO) that works closely with rural communities in the Department of Chimaltenango, Guatemala to achieve long-term sustainable development through community-based projects and programs. A small, full-time staff based in Antigua, manages PAVA's programs, providing technical expertise and coordination for:
- Infrastructure projects (including potable water systems, bridge construction, school construction, and community libraries);
- Support for community learning centers (comunitecas) that serve as libraries and learning centers in three model highland communities; and
- Education (including scholarship programs which allow rural Guatemalan children to finish high school, and a professional development program for teachers to improve the quality of education in primary schools).
From 2002 through 2015 Seekers Church supported an annual work pilgrimage Led by Marjory and Peter Bankson, to help sustain the work of PAVA, raising funds and organizing groups of about two dozen people from Seekers Church and across the United States to work with PAVA and residents of 15 different villages. During this time, we helped construct11 schoolhouses, three libraries and two running water systems.
This year’s contribution will support the PAVA scholarship program, part of the current PAVA focus on educational support for graduates of village middle schools. programs. Since 1986 PAVA has been highly committed to supporting the education of children in remote highland communities. Through 2015, 162 children have benefitted from the PAVA scholarship program. The main objective is to help close the breach in rural children's enrollment in middle school.
Miguel Angel Asturias Academy is a private, non-profit Pre K-12 school in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, founded in 1994 to eliminate education disparities and create informed, critical-thinking, socially conscious citizens in Guatemala through subsidized tuition to its creative curriculum. This curriculum is based on the popular education theory of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, in which systems of injustice are confronted and transformed on the basis of all as teachers and learners. The Academy has two main missions: get ALL Guatemalan children in school and break cycles of poverty through education.
Asturias Academy currently serves approximately 300 students from varying backgrounds: indigenous, non-indigenous, poor, working class and middle class. Many Seekers have visited the Asturias Academy and we welcomed the founder to Washington DC on a visit several years ago.
From 2002 through 2015, the Seekers’ Guatemala Pilgrimages offered participating pilgrims the opportunity to visit several of the missions and ministries that emerged in San Lucas Toliman while Father Greg Schaffer was serving as priest at the Catholic Church there. One of those is the Reforestation Project, founded and run by Toribio Chajil. After Fr. Greg passed away in May 2012, the Friends of San Lucas (FOSL) took over management of the Mission and tried to continue his vision. The Mission was cut to the core programs of Education, Construction, Health, Coffee, and Visitors.
Toribio Chajil is still able to use the land he has been on for over a decade, land owned by the church and offered to him for a nominal rent, to continue his reforestation program, providing seedlings, insight and encouragement to people around Guatemala to help control erosion and encourage environmental sensitivity. The Friends of San Lucas is encouraging support from other churches and individuals to support the full range of missions that were viable during Father Greg’s tenure. In addition to providing operating funds for the project, our support is an encouragement to Friends of San Lucas to continue searching for broad support for missions and ministries in San Lucas.
Since 2006, SOIL has been transforming wastes into resources in Haiti. Through the use of ecological sanitation, SOIL is working to create a revolutionary social business model for providing access to safe, dignified sanitation that produces rich, organic compost as a natural resource for Haiti’s badly-depleted soils, while also creating economic opportunities in some of the world’s most under-resourced communities. Erica Lloyd, who grew up in Seekers Church and maintains active connections, serves on the SOIL staff.
Currently, only 10% of rural Haitians and less than 25% of those in cities have access to adequate sanitation facilities, by far the lowest coverage in the Western Hemisphere. People are forced to find other ways to dispose of their wastes, often in the ocean, rivers, ravines, plastic bags, or abandoned houses. At the same time, agricultural output is low due to poor soil fertility, soil erosion and lack of fertilizers.
Ecological sanitation (EcoSan) is a low-cost approach to sanitation where human wastes are collected, composted and recycled for use in agriculture and reforestation. It simultaneously addresses many of Haiti’s most pressing issues: improving public health, increasing agricultural productivity, mitigating environmental degradation, and providing low-cost sanitation.
Two recent arrivals at Seekers Church, Oswaldo Montoya and Rosa Campos, were co-founding members of this community cooperative, when it started in 2008, and remained active as Coop members until they migrated to the US in 2013. Now they continue to support the cooperative. "Tininiska" is a Cooperative of health providers and educators, most of them working on alternative health therapies, oriental and natural medicine. The goal of the Coop is both to create a source of work for the Coop members and also to serve the community and their families by offering affordable health services and health education to the people of Managua.
There is a law in Nicaragua that endorses the practice of alternative, oriental and indigenous health treatments which facilitates the work of the Coop. Tininiska also offers or disseminates workshops, classes and training on different healthy lifestyle related topics such as vegetarian diet, massages, yoga classes, ecological houses, etc. They also invite and host international health practitioners to share their knowledge with the local health therapists and to learn from them as well.
Support from Seekers Church will help Tininiska offer more reduced prices for their educational and health services for people who otherwise cannot afford them or can entirely assume the costs. They will offer this support in particular to low income people assuming leaderships roles in their communities, such as teachers, health promoters, street police personnel.
Puerto Morelos is located on the Atlantic coast of Mexico. There are luxury hotels not five minutes from this lovely seaside village where a large percent of the townspeople live in abject poverty and children suffer from malnutrition and related ailments. There are parents unable to send their children to school for lack of a few dollars, families of nine living in single rooms with leaking roofs, and sub-standard sanitation. They have under-supplied/under-staffed medical clinics, and ill-equipped emergency responders unable to do the jobs they are trained to do.
El Mundo para Puerto Morelos was started in 2005 with numerous projects—many around schools, child welfare, and health care issues—to improve the lives of those living in Puerto Morelos. Through research and open communication, their volunteers determine needs that are not being met through normal bureaucratic channels, work with community leaders to identify solutions to meet those needs, then focus on the steps necessary to implement plans for solving the issues. Doug and Joan Dodge have visited Puerto Morelos for the past three years, and have been begun volunteering their support.