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I had no interest in giving our hard earned money to poor people in Africa.

Not because feeding and clothing the poor in another country isn't a noble calling; it very much is.  But sending money to a small village in some far away land was too cool for my blood.  The Hollywood elite had successfully made African charities trendy years ago and I hate trendy.  Much how I feel about Twitter.

I always felt like cutting a check to some Tanzanian organization would immediately put me in the category of people who followed Brangelina blogs.  The type who wore tight Obama t-shirts, large sunglasses and hung out in the Apple store.  

I guess I felt like of all the charities in the world, giving to people in Africa would be a selling out of sorts.  I am very much aware of how ridiculous this thought process is.  But like most people,  the inner-workings of my mind held these beliefs without me actually acknowledging and owning these hidden thoughts.  If I had stopped for a moment and became intentional about what was going on in my brain in regards to poverty in other parts of the world, obviously the only conclusion I could have had was that the poor in Africa are worthy of my financial support.  Especially since the American picture of poverty pales in comparison to African poverty.  

The majority of our poor have a roof over their head if they want it.  They can usually get a hot meal from a church soup kitchen.  Even if they were eating out of trashcans, our poor are often obese.  Let's be honest; we're gluttons.  Not so with the poor in Africa.  The African poor are literally starving.  The children are malnourished and the infant mortality rate is devastating.  People die a painful death of AIDS without medical care.  Their children left to fend for themselves, many forced to be child soldiers at the hands of insane criminals like Kony.  I imagine it's near impossible to believe in a loving God under these hopeless conditions. 

But I never considered any of that.  Whenever my mind would drift toward that reality, I chose to comfortably remain in my naivety, excusing my lack of generosity by proclaiming that "we have enough poor people to help right here in America."  I guess doing so was easier on my conscience.  There never seemed to be an appropriate time to stop and think about the tremendous suffering in parts of the world that I knew absolutely nothing about.  Looking back, I had this mentality because of the guilt I have about my American wealth.  I live in a fairly large home, eat out as much as I wish, have a big SUV, a $700 camera and take a beach vacation every year.  I throw out more food in a week than some African children eat in a month.

Maybe by thinking of Africa in terms of the trendy Hollywood elite it would allow me to deny the reality of my own situation; I am spoiled rotten.  Today I sit here typing on my ipad 2 with a huge flat screen on HBO in front of me while children in other parts of the world, like Southeast Africa for example are literally starving and dying on the streets.  Leaving African charities to be taken care of by the George Clooney's of the world made me feel better about ME.  

Well, recently I have been praying to God about how he would have me give. So in between my conducting my online research regarding how much it would cost to get an in-ground pool in my backyard, I have been thinking a lot about how I can find the money in our budget to give to this very worthwhile cause, this noble charity, an African ministry that God has somehow weighed heavily on my heart.  

I would like to introduce you to Tammy Jenkins and Chiefy Hancock, creator and C.E.O. of Heaven House Ministries, a Christian orphanage in Southeast Africa.  Tammy launched Heaven House and Chief holds the Executive officer title which totally cracks me up because it's a 2 person organization.  I feel like his embrace of that label alone has produced a godly love in my heart for this man.  

 When I first came across this ministry I read a bit about how it was formed.  You can find this fascinating story under the Heaven House Facebook page. 

But as time went on, I kept following Chief and his partner Tammy online; reading their posts about how God was moving in Africa.  Every update of Chiefy's was riddled with Bible verses that spoke right to my soul.  I began chatting with him to let him know he and Tammy were in my prayers and every time I saw photos of the faces of these orphaned boys, I felt compelled to do something on their behalf.

The more I'd pray that God would show me how to serve His sheep, the more I felt God was calling me to become an advocate for Heaven House.  My first instinct was to send a $120 for a bed for one of the boys since I knew this was an immediate need of theirs. But somehow just writing out a check felt wrong.  I could tell that it was my desire and not aligned with God's will.  So I waited on the Lord and I kept their ministry in my prayers.  All the while I felt the Holy Spirit leading me back to this cause.  The more I prayed about it, the more I talked about it. While caring for my 6 month old and doing all the usual stay at home mom activities I brought it up to my husband several times, almost with a sense of urgency. 

 "Patrick, God wants me to do something here.  I don't know what though?  I refuse to send money until I know that it is God's will. I just know He wants me to do something. He wants me to step out in drastic faith and help these boys. I just know it" I said.

Jokingly but half serious he replied, "We're not going to Africa, Jessica."

 "No" I said while laughing.  "We're not going to Africa.  God has not put that on my heart.  At least not yet, but we don't not know the mind of God, ya know!?  Who knows?  One day He might call us all to go there!  We don't know!"

I wanted my husband to understand that if God wanted me in Africa I would soooooooo go to Africa.  But lucky for Patrick, and my son Dexter, it's clear that at this point, this is not God's will.  Otherwise, it would be my husband's desire also.

 What He has urged me to do is to tell my family and friends about this cause.  I'm not 100% sure why.  I imagine doing so may bring Heaven House some much needed funding. But I suspect something else is going on here.

So, here's where I ask you for your support.  I realize not everyone can give to everything.  I know many will read this and think, "yeah, God has not put giving money to Chiefy on my heart" and that's okay.  I don't want anyone to give because I've muscled them into it.  I am not giving to this ministry for any other reason than I feel as though God has been calling me to. He has asked me to pray that Tammy and Chiefy make disciples of these dear children as they model Christ-like behavior by being His heart and hands in this world. He has asked me to tell people about their ministry through this blog, through Facebook and however else the Spirit urges me to.  And to continually seek guidance on what He'd have me do next in order to serve Him.

I believe deeply that God is working in this ministry.  I also suspect He is preparing my heart to support this cause in some fashion or another.  I have committed myself to waiting on Him in deciding how I will be used after this blog post, if even at all.  But this is my first step; made in faith.  I have listened and obeyed what God has asked me to do here; which is to introduce Tammy and Chiefy and the boys at this orphanage to those who are willing to listen.

Tammy and the boys

Tammy and the boys

And so, friends, family, Facebook world; meet Chiefy, Tammy, and their 5 orphan boys.  They live in Bangula, Malawi.  Tammy and Chiefy are not a big organization with funding and church sponsors.  Although church and monthly sponsorship is something they are desperately seeking.  They are  not trendy enough to be a celebrity cause; Not yet at least.  But God is working through these individuals, so I certainly don't think that Brangelina's endorsement is too big for God!  Their mission is pretty straight forward.  Tammy and Chiefy sent me the following to share with you:

Our desire is to preach Jesus, not with words only but with our lives as we demonstrate a love for God by meeting these precious orphaned children’s needs. 

Our aim is simple and straight from the heart.

 To give these orphans a home setting in the village, not an institutionalized orphanage.

 To create a safe, loving and nurturing environment for the children. 

To give them a healthy diet, an excellent education and any medical care they need. 

To release them back into the community as healthy, educated and well-adjusted adults so they can play their part in the future of Malawi. 

They are still in need of getting a water tap for safe drinking water, electricity, mattresses, clothes and such for the ones they care for now.

Chief reading the Good Book

Chief reading the Good Book

I feel like it's necessary to point out the obvious here as well.  They are ministering to these children, and telling them about the Gospel of Christ.  Not only does this benefit them, it also brings awareness to those in the village who know about the orphanage and the sacrifice they are making in the name of Jesus.  It is a ringing endorsement for the Gospel that Tammy and Chiefy are working around the clock, for FREE to care for those children because of a love they have in their hearts, born from the Spirit of God. But this ministry is in its infancy, which to many can be a  gigantic red flag and a huge hurdle to them receiving donations.  How many junk emails have you received from Zimbabwe where you're being asked to send money to someone you don't know?  Initially I felt the same way when I first thought about giving money through their paypal account.  I realize I'm a sucker for a good story. But I'm not asking that you blindly start sending checks to some guy named Chiefy Hancock. I'm asking you to be intentional about the way you think of giving.  Pray first.  Wait on God.  Then Give.  Or don't.

I hope the the following information helps you make a prudent decision when considering this ministry.  I have dear friends who I have known and trusted for over 15 years who know Tammy and her family intimately.  So this is not just 2 random people on the internet I know nothing about.  I have a glowing, trustworthy reference as to the character of the creator of Heaven House, and the intention of these two individuals when it comes to caring for young boys and girls in this orphanage and sharing the Gospel of Christ.  But I do realize, you do not personally have that reference.  So I ask that you just do what I'm doing.....  Pray about it and ask God if you are one of the people He intends to use here.  Even if that just means keeping the health and happiness of the boys in the orphanage on your prayer list.  I am not niave to the fact that the prayers of the faithful are more powerful than dollars.  

Follow them and the things they are doing on Facebook.  

Ask me about it. 

Pray that they are the type of ministry that you'd feel honored to give to.

Do nothing if you feel God doesn't want to use you this way.  

But if you have gotten this far in this too long blog post....All I ask is that you consider supporting this ministry and for my friends and dear family who know me intimately, consider that this is something that God has put on my heart, so at the very least, I ask for your prayers for all the boys currently being cared for and for wisdom for both Tammy and Chiefy to follow God's lead in all they do.  

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Jackson, Heaven House's most recent miracle

Jackson, Heaven House's most recent miracle

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2 Comments

  • tammy jenkins

    tammy jenkins March 22, 2012

    OMJesus is my savior Jessica. I cried so much Chief had to finish reading the blog for me.He does not understand even yet why I cry because of joy. it is something they have never experienced here= happy tears. then when you got to the CEO part we both just started laughing so hard, it was a Holy Spirit Time indeed. the words that come from you are anointed and we have been praying that God would bring us people that would take us into their hearts and push us up.and yes Chief is so, I am somebody with that title of CEO.
    God knew and i had confessed i do not know what i am doing to make this work but God is teaching us very urgent ways of doing things. I did not no it at the time when I handed HHM over to Chief and stated that i will be your sponsor, that it would actually be a way around allot of red government tape here. since he is a Malawian he is able to take in a number of children without any question, where as two white people try to start something here and the government gets involved because it is a money making bussiness for allot of people here. one of the reasons we took children out of the orphanage i stayed at in 2009. they where all about how much children they could take in that would increase their donations that they would then put in their own pocket and let the babies die from lack of proper care. 5 babies died as i cared for them here in 4 months time, i got the government involved and with in the first month they ordered that 23 of the babies be moved from that orphanage and then they closed down another baby house from this same orphanage that was in the town of Blantyre that was housing 20 more. it also made the rules allot stricter about how many kids one place can take, so this orphanage has been ordered by the government not to take anymore children. which is a good thing but how they have nowhere to go. our goal is to support the relatives to keep these children with them instead of taking them to an orphanage. this is a very expensive way of doing it because one orphan can mean taking care of 5-8 other family members. we have just moved 2 of our boys back in with their grandmother and their aunt who has 3 kids= we are now feeding 7. i tell you it is very costly to live here, people are starving because they can not afford the food not because of famine. i would like to do an exchange rate and budget for you so you can see that even $100.00 USD does not do much. it’s like going to Farmfresh to buy one thing you need for dinner that night and you end up spending $50.00 and you think what did i just buy that cost $50.00? as you carry out a half filled plastic bag.there are so many

  • tammy jenkins

    tammy jenkins March 22, 2012

    there are so many needs here that it is impossible for me to stay on budget. i had the money needed to buy jojo his mattress with all good intentions but as i was getting ready to leave to walk into the market place i was informed that i was needed by a family who had just lost their house in the flood and now were living near me in a vacant house. i went there to see what was going on. i found the mother had already died of AIDS and the father was very sick. He also has AIDS and on top of that he has TB.i knew from experience that once you start to see their brown eyes turn gray, death is at the door. i prayed over him for God’s healing power but at the same time i knew he must get to the hospital for treatment. there it was again, the decision i have to make daily. to give to this one to save their life or to stay on budget so jojo can stop sleeping on the floor. it’s not a decision that i need to take time for because God already knew that i would give him the money needed to get to the hospital some 2 hours away, it’s just that i can’t see how jojo will ever get his mattress. unless i start to get church sponsors who can help monthly i see myself always in this position. sometimes though it comes down to me choosing food for myself vs giving to a child i pass by on the way home from the market. they do not eat sometimes for 2-3 days. ok here you go you can have my food and i end up going hungry that night. i have never known hunger. ok maybe while waiting in the drive through at MacD’s when someone in front of me just ordered 3 caramel frappes but real hunger; and it’s not like when i get home i can go through the cabinets and find an old can of something to throw together. we have no cabinets, we have no stored food for late night snacking. i have lost over 50 lbs in 5 months, i have complained of the manna (rice) God does bless me with because i know what i am missing where as these boys of mine have never tasted the good so they don’t know that it even exists out there in this big world. to them just to see that there is a bag of maze at thier house puts a smile on their face because they know they will eat at least until that bag runs out. even sleeping on the floor, that’s what their use too. they do not know mattresses. i could go on and on and i have allot of stories that i have not had the time to write.
    but this i do know, a Malawian told me “Tammy God has sent you here because He could not come Himself” Wow, i had never thought of it that way. If God is sending me in His place then He will make the way! Jess we need you, and i will be praying that God reveal to you what His purpose is for you to do for us here. You are an answer to our prayers already though. i love you with this agape love that is so strong at this moment, i hope that you can feel it too. oh yea, please request me as your friend. i am on restriction with fb and can not make friend request. thanks my new friend and thanks my old friend Sheri for sharing her love for me with you. Tammy

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