In 2015, a devastating fire tore through a cottage at Serving In Mission’s Mseleni Children’s Home in South Africa.
Heroic efforts by care workers saved the lives of 13 of the children in the unit, but the tragedy claimed the life of a child and of a member of staff, who had gone back into the house to try to save him.
Long-term SIM couple – Rachel Fredlund and her husband Victor, sent and supported by Trinity Road Chapel, Tooting – together with local staff, have spent much of the past five years seeking to reopen the home by raising funds from SIM supporters, making upgrades and getting authorisation from government offices.
At times it seemed the early promises had been reversed, yet the continuing persistence of the home’s trustees and the community – along with the regular reminders of the children in need – spurred them on.
“God’s constant reminder of his concern for orphans and children and the regular and special support of SIM strengthened weak knees,” says Victor.
After many repairs, renovations and reports, and despite the impact of Covid-19, the couple’s prayers were finally answered when the home was re-registered in March.
Since it was first opened in the 1950s to care for orphaned children, the focus of Mseleni Children’s Home has turned increasingly to provide a safe and healing place for those who’ve experienced trauma and abuse, or who come from very dysfunctional families.
Today, it has a specialised play therapy unit where trained staff show the love of Christ by helping children deal with problems arising out of their abuse and develop a sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
“It’s a delight to see the love poured out from carers to the children and to see their responses,” adds Rachel.
The children’s home is part of Mseleni Care and Compassions Ministries. Also part of the ministry is the Ebenezer Early Childhood Development Centre and the Lulisandla Kumntwana (Reach Out To The Child) community outreach project that started up in 2002 working with local churches to help them share the love of Christ and care for the growing number of children orphaned because of AIDS.
“The massive peak of AIDS orphaned children has passed, but many needs remain for orphans and vulnerable children in the community,” says Victor.
Lulisandla Kumntwana continues to work in the community responding to the needs of children, youth, women, and families in the community, currently caring for orphans through advocacy, psycho-social support and after-schools clubs; HIV support groups for teens; young people’s life skills programmes – including one to prevent and alleviate drug and alcohol abuse – and a sports programme focused on developing healthy relationships and countering gender-based violence.
The ministry also runs groups to support teenage parents and a programme to help hundreds of young people apply and register at higher education institutions. Plans include opening a crisis care centre for women and children who have been abused and a day centre to help people with alcohol abuse problems.
“There was great joy, praise to God and relief as the children’s home staff started to return and prepare for the arrival of the next children,” recalls Rachel, “but it’s currently only registered to take 20 children (about 50 per cent of capacity), which means that there’s a shortfall of around 50,000 rand per month for child-care costs.”
She adds: “It has been a long wait, and we don’t know what the future will be, but God has already led us through many trials and there’s been much joy in the journey, so we trust in his provision and look forward to seeing many children and young people experiencing his love and healing and becoming rooted and grounded in in him.”
By Kerry Allan
More on this ministry:
Abused and neglected as a child, Khanyisile was taken to Mseleni Children’s Home, where she found love, acceptance and hope for the future. By giving her a new start and redeeming her heart, God now uses Khanyisile to help children facing the same struggles she did as a young girl.
Will you or your church give a gospel gift to provide one month’s support for an orphan helped by this project?
- Give thanks for the long-awaited answer to prayer as Mseleni Children’s Home reopens.
- For an increase in the registered capacity of the home, so vulnerable children are not turned away and the home can run a balanced budget.
- For more churches to respond with care to the needs around them and be fruitful and effective to the glory of God.