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A native of Kasama, capital of Northern Province, Zambia, Francis has for nearly two decades worked with sacrificial commitment under the auspices of Project HOPE, serving widows and orphans in his community.
Coming from a broken childhood of neglect and abuse, Francis knows firsthand the struggles, the bleakness of life, for those who grow up without hope. But when faithful Christians witnessed to him about the love of God, Francis received the Lord Jesus as his Saviour. From hopelessness he awoke to a burning desire for service in the lives of the most defenceless of all people.
Now Project HOPE has joined with Francis in an exciting project: to write the story of his life and ministry. We pray that his book will excite and inspire our regular supporters, as you see Kasama through the intimate viewpoint of one of our most committed, long-term partners. More than that, we hope the book will reach beyond our ministry to inform and motivate others to join us in bringing a future and a hope to these people and their communities.
Please pray for Francis and for those involved as we see this book take shape and prepare for publication.
An excerpt from the book:
Josephat and his younger brother, Haggai, are just two of the five or six hundred vulnerable children we support in my community. I had found these boys on the streets, scavenging for plastic and glass bottles to sell—a way of helping their family survive.
Their chronically ill mother, long since abandoned by her husband, did piecework when she could, to fend for herself and her four children.
When I first met the brothers, they had dropped out of school, but I managed to get them to go back. On this day I was supposed to meet the boys with a couple of short-term missionary workers, to take them to buy school uniforms and shoes. When they didn’t show up, the visiting missionaries weren’t pleased. They were prone to believe the worst of the boys, but I couldn’t go along with that. I’ve seen too much of what life throws at them.
The next morning we went to the boys’ school, and Josephat sobbingly told us what had happened. As he and Haggai were walking into town to meet us, a drunkard on the road called over the younger boy, asking for directions to some place. When Haggai told the man he didn’t know, the drunkard started shouting at the young boy.
Frightened, Haggai took off at a run, but the stranger picked up and threw a stone, hitting Haggai in the head. He fell in the road, bleeding. Josephat picked up his brother and they fled home.
Hearing Josephat and Haggai’s sorry tale took me back again to the reason I decided that I wanted to get involved in the lives of people like them—such vulnerable children, often the sons and daughters of abused and abandoned mothers—when others not only didn’t care but chose to worsen the miserable lives of these innocents.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me”… who have no reliable parents to care for them, to take them to school, to support them in every physical, emotional and spiritual way.
It breaks my heart that, instead of being there for these kids, for all those in need like them, we—like the drunkard—so often choose to close our eyes to the brokenhearted, to neglect or totally ignore them.
Having seen people come on board to help me in my hour of need, I am endlessly inspired to want to be a blessing to others. I feel that, in so doing, God will be glorified. Project HOPE is a faith-based organization which works with various denominations, sharing the same vision. And God has been faithful.
About Francis Chileshe: Francis Chileshe has been project manager in Kasama, Zambia, for Project HOPE since 2001. Francis’ passion and commitment to the vulnerable people in his community has inspired countless people over the years to contribute to his work and marvel at his tenacity. Francis serves hundreds of widows and orphans to ensure they are not forgotten. He collaborates with many community agencies and partners to reach those who are struggling and also connects with the teaching staff at the Saikalo School to help with the daily lunch program and teaching resources. Chileshe has embarked on this book writing journey to not only tell his story but also encourage others to advocate and participate in his ministry.
About M. Sharpe: Meg Sharpe, B.Sc., is managing editor of The Shantyman, the evangelistic publication of Shantymen International. She has co-written, ghost-written, or edited more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from parenting to marriage to cooking to a children’s novel, Slave, Brave and Free (with Cal Bombay) as well as numerous papers for the C.S. Lewis Society, various Christian publications, and sundry assorted bits and pieces, including politically correct restaurant reviews, and she hopes a soon-to-be-produced politically incorrect cookbook/travelogue related to her time in Provence and on the Côte d’Azur, especially in her old home, La Sarrazine, which overlooks the Mediterranean from the ancient ramparts of Antibes. Meg is a champion of Project HOPE and is donating her time to work with Francis Chileshe and Project HOPE Executive Director Christopher Graves, to complete this book capturing the life and passion of Chileshe’s commitment to those who are vulnerable.
The serious demeanor of this young orphan characterizes the struggle he faces every day. His family is gone, he has no means of self-support and each morning he wonders what will happen to him that day. This boy lives near the Nyangombe settlement but he is not alone. The community care team of Nyangombe ensures he has food, shelter and the ability to go to school. While he may have lost his family, his world has been filled by committed volunteers who make sure he has hope, one day at a time.
His future is not secure but he has a chance. Funds donated to Project HOPE help bring a measure of stability to his life by providing for his immediate needs. Having the chance to complete school is the key to his future along with the encouragement he receives from his ‘adopted’ care family at Nyangombe.
His story is unfortunately not unique. There are many more vulnerable children just like him who need hope. Christmas is approaching and now more than ever Project HOPE needs donations to keep resources flowing so that kids have hope. Please make a gift today.