“Most recent statistics report that every day, nearly 5,760 children become orphans, accumulating to over 2.1 million orphaned children each year in Africa alone. 12% of all children in Sub-Saharan Africa are orphans and of those children, 5.7 million were orphaned in just 2010. The growing number of children contributing to this statistic are orphans victimized by AIDS who add to this figure every 15 seconds and have unfortunately already reached 15 million children, most of which are in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The growing number is steadily increasing, and without proper government funding, these figures will only worsen. By 2015 it is predicted that there will be 400 million orphans worldwide. Children are often the first victims to be displaced by their parents and with scarce resources, these children aren’t even given a fighting chance of survival.”
These statistics are provided by Beloved International, a ministry in Southern California that aims to fight the orphan crisis in Africa.
I had a chance to meet with Abigail Young and Timothy Zeng, two students who are the leaders of the UC Irvine chapter of Beloved International ministry. I had an opportunity to talk to them about their upcoming April event, Huruma by Beloved International.
What is the purpose of Beloved International?
Timothy Zeng: The purpose of Beloved International is to raise awareness of the orphan crisis in Kenya and all of Africa. We are trying to get believers to see the global needs and fundraise to help solve the crisis. We have pastors who are part of this ministry to adopt children from Kenya and help them to eventually be financially independent of our help.
How did this organization start?
Abigail Young: Beloved International was started in 2010 as a movement to adopt orphans in Africa. Because the problem is so big, they have decided to start the ministry in Kenya. Their attempt was to display the spiritual adoption through creating ways for Christian couples to adopt orphans from Kenya. The UC Irvine chapter was started about 2 ½ years ago after a café night held at Berean Community Church as Beloved International sought ways to fundraise for their cause.
What will be happening in Huruma?
Timothy Zeng: Huruma is a benefit concert, and the word means “compassion” in Swahili. The event will be run mainly by the students at the UC Irvine chapter. Also, most of the performers will be UC Irvine students. There will be musical performances by bands (one band has won Kollaboration) and individuals (Tim Katenjian, who was the winner of first Soulstice will be one performer). Directors of Beloved International will speak in two different occasions about the orphan crisis, their ministry, and how effective the ministry has been. All the profits from this event will be going to help the orphans in Kenya.
What is the Biblical basis for this event?
Abigail Young: The Bible is clear on the need for believers to help out orphans: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27 ESV). A huge part of the ministry is to help the helpless and those who need the Physician. Just as we are adopted into his heavenly kingdom, through the act of physical adoption, we have a better picture of what it means to be adopted into God’s kingdom. We want to give hope and show grace just as much as we have been recipients of God’s grace.
How will this event help with the gospelization and/or raising up of leaders?
Abigail Young: This event will raise leaders by finding ways to extend the gospel to orphan children because the chance to hear the gospel is very low for these orphans. This is not merely a philanthrophic event or just a concert. This event is an opportunity to live out the Great Commission. We must understand the urgency and the need for the gospel to be preached and to be lived out with these Kenyan children. We want to demonstrate God’s adoption through physical act of adopting.
Why should college students attend this event?
Timothy Zeng: Christian students in colleges are living in a bubble, and this event will help Christian students to be aware of social justice works. The gospel implies social justice and mercy work as an important part of the Christian living but we just do not participate in it. It will help college students to stop focusing on ourselves but to see that the Great Commission calls for us to go to the ends of the earth. It does not have to be through financial help that you participate, but we are calling people to come to learn and to know that they can pray for orphans who need actual help.
How can those not in UC Irvine help with the ministry?
Timothy Zeng: As a believer, you can do any works of social justice and mercy. However, the reason why I joined the ministry is that this ministry actually adopts the children that are in need. The orphans become part of a family. There are so many ways to participate in the ministry even after college. We just want people to be aware.
Abigail Young: This event can be a starting point for people to be more aware of the social needs globally. Our UC Irvine chapter is merely a chapter of a bigger organization. We would love to see people after their college years to continue to involve themselves in these acts of social justice.
Huruma, the benefit concert by Beloved International, will take place on April 12 at 6:30 PM. The event will be held at Crystal Cove in UC Irvine’s Student Center.
For UC Irvine students, the ticket will be $10 for presale and $14 at the door. For those outside of UC Irvine, the ticket will be $12 for presale and $16 at the door. For more information about the benefit concert specifically, contact: email@example.com, and for more information about the ministry, visit http://www.belovedinternational.org/
Joo Heon Lee is a volunteer student writer from the University of California, Irvine.