The Tree of Life Children’s Village, located just outside the capital city of Lusaka, is a 130-acre community of homes for orphaned children designed to be a haven of hope and light. Graceann and I’s vision is to build an additional house in this village that will serve as a refuge for orphans and a loving Christian home for the homeless.
The children that move into this village come from the most severe backgrounds of poverty, abuse and neglect. Some are HIV positive, while others come from child-headed households. All are in need of healing, comfort and a fresh-start.
Children at the Tree of Life receive both the educational and spiritual development that will dramatically transform their future. Faith Christian Academy (located at the Tree of Life) provides first class education through highly-qualified teachers and exceptional curriculum, equipping these children to become the future leaders of their country. Full-time pastors build on this by teaching the Word of God and encouraging the children in their faith.
Our desire is to cast visions into the lives of these kids so they can become all that God intended them to be. Discipleship, counseling, and top-notch education are daily fixtures in their lives. At the Tree of Life Village, children have the opportunity to do what most children in Zambia have never done before: just be kids.
In July 2014, we went to Zambia with Family Legacy and it was a heart changing and eye opening experience. We saw firsthand all the ways God is working in the children’s lives and fell in love with the kids we met. We quickly realized how much hurt and pain these children deal with on a daily basis and the horrendous living conditions so many of them live in. It was when we were able to interact with the children who had been pulled out of their homes and were living in one of the Tree of Life homes that we felt the Lord laying it on our hearts to raise money for a house. The kids in these homes were filled with joy, knew they were loved, and received quality Christian education in a country where over 1 million children are orphans due to HIV/AIDS or extreme poverty. Their lives were completely changed for the better because of the opportunity to live at Tree of Life and receive the love and support they need to thrive.
We have decided to name the house, Marie’s house, in honor of my late grandma, Marie Schmitt. My grandmother was an amazing woman who loved Jesus and loved children. Her face would light up when she was around children and she had a wonderful way of connecting with and loving on kids. It was very common that my grandma’s house was filled with toys, Bible stories, good food, and many little children. It is our hope and prayer that one day a house in Lusaka, Zambia, will also be filled in this same way and although my grandmother will not be at the house, we know she will be smiling down from Heaven.
James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God is this: to visit the widow and the orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world”
Matthew 18:10 “Beware that you do not look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in Heaven their angels are always in the presence of my Heavenly Father”
Proverbs 19:17 “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and He will repay you!”
Mark 10:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these”
Psalm 68:5-6 “Father to the fatherless… this is God. He places the lonely in families and gives them joy!”