17 December 2017

Hope in the Wasteland

The flies swarm as more trucks arrive to dump their contents. The smell of refuse fills the air – rotting animal carcasses, excrement, plastic wrapping, paper and other organic matter where the flies lay their eggs. No wonder the community of Kampung Sawah battles with serious health problems. Typhoid, cholera, dysentery, diarrhoea, pinworms, roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms plague the children who live here.

Kampung Sawah is not even marked on a map of Jakarta, Indonesia. The name literally means ‘Rice-field Village’. Rolling fields once covered the area; these days, the only hills are piles of garbage. The community members, whose ancestors were famers, now earn a living by turning pieces of rubbish into something worth selling.

And yet, in amongst the squalor there is a church, a clinic, a school and the aptly named Victory Child Development Centre run by the Christian charity Compassion. It all started as the dream of one woman, Pastor Veronica. She set up the tiny clinic providing free medication from which everything else grew.

“My heart is for the people here to be saved,” she explains. “But to fulfill that mission I believe we should do something for the community first – help them to survive and open up opportunity to work to gain a better life. The church is formed to care for people, not to be exclusive. God has promised me that He will be with me, the Church, and He has proved it. Praise God for that.”

Compassion began a partnership with Pastor Veronica and the church in Kampung Sawah four years ago. Through its child sponsorship programme, many children on the dump are now having all their physical, educational, economic and social needs met.

By writing letters, praying and donating monthly, sponsors invest in the lives of these children living in extreme poverty. Committed to working through local churches, Compassion also equips the church staff as they minister to children, helping them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

And yet there’s even more to thank God for. Kampung Sawah is a Muslim majority area, but such is the positive impact of the church and Compassion that even the local Muslim leader, Mr. Imam Tauhid, sends his child to the Victory Centre. “At first I didn’t welcome the church here. But over time I’ve seen its sincere heart to help people in need,” he explains. “It has changed the way I see Christianity. I will never say bad things about the church. This Church is different.”

Despite appearances, God is doing something amazing amongst the people of Kapung Sawah and they are rejoicing. It is a reminder of our Father’s ability to take the small work of a faithful servant like Pastor Veronica, or the small amount contributed every month by Compassion sponsors, and grow it beyond our imagining.

Compassion is a leading child development charity serving more than a million children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries.

Jemima Lewis


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