this sunday i got wrecked at church. you know those times when someone speaks and it just hits you right in the heart?
steve vinton, founder of village schools international, spoke to our church about their mission, life and love in the heart of africa. a life story that began when he was 16 and went to visit his grandparents, who had moved to the congo in the 1920s as missionaries. they never came home. and they left behind a beautiful legacy of hundreds of schools and churches, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids.
after meeting and marrying his bride, they returned together to continue the work of steve’s grandfather in the congo region. but war ensued and they were forced to seek refuge in tanzania, where they were shocked and deeply saddened by the inaccessibility of schools to children. they began teaching 7th grade in the village’s only school, with a mere 46 children. it came time to test the children to determine which ones would be allowed to move on to the 8th grade. when the names were posted months later, only 2 names were on the list. steve, heartsick that there must have been a mistake, traveled to speak with the head of education who told him that, although nearly every child passed the exams, there was only room for two children to move on to the 8th grade. in his heartache and heartbreak for these children, his desire to love and educate them, and give them a chance, village schools was born. in 2005 they opened 3 schools and enrolled 832 students. today they have 26 schools, educating 8400 students, and are currently building 6 more schools right now.
these children….the ones in village schools…they are known as, and called, ‘WASIOCHAGULIWA.’ this word literally translates to: ‘the unchosen ones.’ these unchosen ones, the poorest children, the orphans, the ones who would never, ever have a chance. they are his chosen ones. every one. every single one is welcome. and they share the gospel with each of these children and their families as a natural result of loving them well. my heart aches with the passion he displays for each and every face, each child, chosen. dearly loved.
read colossians 3 here
and you know what he asks for? i know what you think. but you’re wrong. it’s not your money. he asks for your prayer. not that you would pray for him or his wife because, in his words, “we are already well blessed. blessed far enough.” his request is that we pray that God would send the workers. the ones to do the work, to build the schools, to train the teachers, to minister to the children, to do the work that God has prepared for them in advance. because he does not accept accolades for building a single school. he calls himself the emperor with no clothes. because it is the people who have come, who have given these kids a chance, and the children who have been so changed that they graduate and move to a village 100 miles away from everything they have ever known to start a new school. to do for those children what was done for them. the least prepared. the weakest ones. the ones He uses. where His power is made perfect. and how does it work that people in idaho and minnesota and washington, wisconsin and texas pray for village schools in africa and a young woman from georgia calls and asks to come? we will never know. but according to steve: “it is working. and it’s working really well.” so please, if you can add village schools to your prayer list, pray that God would send the workers.
and if you have a call to do more, and are driven by practical needs, they need desks for their classrooms. a mere $18. we opened our boys’ piggy banks and found enough so they’re buying one too. if you live in coeur d’alene you may see several of these desks around town, in coffee shops or schools raising awareness. they’re painted blue. i challenge you to buy a desk. one single desk. $18.00 to provide a seat for a precious child in a schoolroom you will never see, a country you may never visit, a face you will never know. but a future you will invest in and a legacy you will put in motion. you may never get a thank you. you name will not be displayed on a plaque on a wall. but you will change a life. all for a handful of change in a piggybank.
just do it. donate now at village schools.