Guided by the motto “Solidarity Soup,” United Methodist young people of the Malanje and Kiwaba Nzoji districts of the Eastern Angola Conference organized humanitarian action to model solidarity with the poor and to help their community.
Reaching out to disadvantaged neighborhoods on the outskirts of Malanje, a city of 222,000, they distributed resources and entertained street children.
Celebrating the International Day of the Child on June 1 and the International Day of the African Child on June 16, the youth planned an afternoon of organized fun for street children, ages 7 to 18.
Some of the children have lived on the streets for two to five years. In addition to providing food and clothing, the United Methodist young people sang and offered engaging activities.
“The event aims to help the needs that hinder our society,” said Edgar Chicola, district deputy director of United Methodist Youth. “We, as a church and an integral part of this society, feel that we have moral and human responsibility in assisting our brothers and sisters in need.”
He cited 2 Timothy 4:2, NRSV, as the inspiration for the project: “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”
“Our mission also carries with it the evangelizer flavor, according to the sacred Scriptures,” Chicola said. More than 250 United Methodist youth, mostly teen girls, from several congregations participated in the event.
“Our solidarity activities have not ended here,” said Francisco Lumingo Chita, director of the Malanje District. “We will visit prisons, hospitals and foster homes, since the founder of our church … always gave his life for social causes.”
Lorena de Freitas, director of youth at Quésher United Methodist Church, said she is “very satisfied.”
“Not for what we have brought to offer to children and people in need in these communities, but for being able to serve God. Together, with other young Methodists, (we are) making a difference to these children and others in need.”
Adam Buila Cambo, youth director at Jericho United Methodist Church, said his group is “here to fulfill the imperative of our master, Jesus. We have brought the word ‘liberation,’ material goods and fun.”
The true mission is to make disciples through words and works, said young adult Arinelson Gonçalves Filipe.
Three children attending the festivities were Manuel Sebastião, Nelson Patrício and Pedro António Quiluanje.
“I live on the street,” Sebastião explained, “because my father kicked me out of the house.” His dad accused him of witchcraft. Patrício, a 12-year-old orphan, said he begs for money because his grandparent, with whom he lives, cannot afford to care for him.
“I don't live on the street,” Quiluanje noted, “but I stay in supermarkets, helping to push and or carry carts with people's products to get a few bucks. Most of the change I earn is to sustain my studies because I live with my grandfather who has no material and financial conditions to pay.”
João Nhanga is a communicator from the Eastern Angola Annual Conference.