Cedric is an orphan who lives with his grandmother, who is feeble and unable to provide for him. Though his basic needs still weren’t being met, he began the three-year training at a Hand-in-Hand School. It was tough to get by as he went through the program.
The war in the Central African Republic was devastating for the country’s orphans. Encompass workers were already giving respite to orphans through relief projects, but they wanted to do more. These children needed a steady environment where they could grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. They needed a safe place in a volatile country. Hand-in-Hand Schools were created to meet this need.
In 2006, Barb Wooler and Ginger Hock helped develop the first Hand-in-Hand School with the partnership of a church in the small village of Pama, C.A.R. The school consisted of fifty kids and one teacher. Today, there are 43 schools led by 43 godly teachers with 50 orphans in each program. Over two thousand students, this year will be educated in reading, writing, math, and Bible with a lunch provided for them every day. For these children, the school may be the only stable thing in their life.
The unique feature of this ministry is the mutual partnership between churches/individuals in North America and churches/individuals in Africa. For a school to function, a North American church needs to provide the finances for the school supplies, daily lunches, and teacher’s salary. The local African church is then responsible to ensure every student is living in a healthy home during the school year, has a set of clothing for school use, and has access to basic medical services. If any of these needs are not met by either partner, the school cannot function.
In the course of his classes, Cedric got the idea to build himself a wooden booth and sell homemade cookies. At the age of ten, he started a business that now provides for him and his grandmother. Cedric’s education has been a turning point in his life.
The Central African Republic was a country already in need of more ways for widows to protect and provide for themselves and their families. The civil war only increased this need as many women lost their husbands and their homes.
The war in the CAR displaced thousands of people, who crowded into shabby camps that offered no protection or shelter. During the first phase of the crisis response, Encompass was able to help widows in these camps with temporary UNICEF shelters to offer them a measure of comfort. After the worst of the war was over, these widows returned to their homes, only to find that many of the houses had their roofs taken and lumber stolen. Through the donations of generous individuals, Encompass was able to help. With the partnership of Dr. Hibaile and the CIDEL ministry, $25,000 were used to build and rebuild homes for 28 widows. These women have now either reclaimed their homesteads or been blessed with new homes, freeing them from life in refugee camps.
With the help of Encompass Restoration Funds and the partnership of C.A.R. churches, another project was created that developed a micro-enterprise seminar for widows in Bangui. The project assisted 56 widows, many who were the wives of pastors who had passed away. They were taught how to manage a small business and were given $600 dollars in start-up funds to help launch a new business venture such as selling gozo, making soap, or selling firewood. They also received a new Bible, song book, shovel and two hoes to use in their gardens.
As they participated in the micro-enterprise seminar, the widows laughed, cried, and rejoiced in the generosity. Many of them have gone on to use their new business to provide for their families.
In 2005, Director of African Ministries Frank Puhl received word of a man in Chad who had died of appendicitis. The closest surgical clinic was 60 miles from their town, and the man’s family could not afford the costs of transportation to the surgical clinic nor could they afford the procedure. They tried to save up enough, but it was too late. The man’s appendix ruptured, causing his death.
The medical ministries of Encompass reflect the heart desire to be God’s love for His people. Thousands have been helped spiritually and physically through these ministries and coalitions. Over the span of decades, hospitals, clinics, and medicine dispensaries have been built. Many individuals have received financing to further their medical training. Faithful nurses, surgeons, chaplains, and administrators make all of the medical operations function. Day in and day out they perform their jobs unto God, even in the most challenging circumstances.
Where there is a great need, there is an opportunity to display God’s mercy. As God provides more financial partners and more qualified individuals who are willing to serve, more expansion can happen in the future.
The loss of the man’s life motivated plans to build a surgical clinic in his hometown. The clinic was built and has provided medical services for thousands of people. With the partnership of the local churches, the gospel is preached to every patient. The clinic serves as a platform for spiritual healing as well as physical treatment.