Adventures in Missions in partnership Dream for Africa and Service Year for Christ showed the film “Beat the Drum” at every high school in Swaziland. Many students who saw the film made commitments for Christ and decided to wait until marriage before engaging in physical intimacy with a partner. The leaders at Adventures in Missions felt that God was opening doors in Swaziland to step in and help serve whole communities. By the end of the year, our first full-time missionary, Julie Anderson joined the First Year Mission Program to follow up with schools and discipleship commitments. During the next 18 months, as team members from First Year Mission Program reported back, staff at Adventures in Missions began to understand the scale of the desparate need for supporting vulnerable children.
Adventures in Missions formed a partnership with Children’s HopeChest and the first formal commitment to work together to adress the issues of vulnerable children and food insecurity. Additionally, Matt and Kriek Gerber moved to Swaziland as base directors to pioneer the creation and vision of the new ministry being formed.
First child sponsorships were established and within a few months, a new “Discipleship Team” was formed. The Discipleship Team consisted of 10 staff members who traveled to community centers called CarePoints and began to teach to hundreds of children.
Adventures in Missions formed a lasting partnership with Children’s HopeChest to combine forces and increase our reach to serve communities. We also welcomed our first groups of short-term missions teams and formed relationships with partner communities who committed to pray and support vulnerable children at our CarePoints. By the end of the year, we had established our first 10 CarePoints.
During these years, we steadily grew our Discipleship Team and served more CarePoints. We also launched our first class of 11 Swaziland Leadership Academy students. These students were young adults at our CarePoints who were serving and caring for others. Four more missionaries and their families move to Swaziland during this time: the McAdams and the Clyburns.
We sent two of our Discipleship Team to a specialized full-emersion servant-based leadership program called The Leadership Experience. When the staff returned, their experience at the leadership program was overwhelmingly positive. The ministry started selecting groups of upcoming leaders to experience the leadership program together. In 2013, the first group of 11 left Swaziland for nearly a year to train. Meanwhile, our Discipleship Team and staff continue to serve at the CarePoints.
After our “SLA” students had spent a year at their CarePoints, they became our first “Shepherds” and joined staff full-time. Our Discipleship Team disbands and get to serve in specialized roles, allowing our staff to grow in size, maturity, and in our ability to further reach the community. More missionaries and their families moved to Swaziland during this time.
Swaziland suffers the worst drought in 100 years, tens of thousands of cattle died, and many wells ran dry. Farmer communities had to reduce staff and most lost a portion or all of their crop. Some of our ambitious sustainability programs were placed on hold due to the rising cost of food and water. The missionary community grows to twelve.
Swaziland began to recover from the historic drought and many of our communities began to show new life. We experimented with new ways to report the good progress we were seeing at our CarePoints, and launched our own web app to help us keep track of the ever-growing number of children we serve. We celebrated the positive changes over the years we’ve been serving Swaziland with two 10-Year Anniversary events including a massive barbeque at our first established CarePoint, Bhalekane.
In April, the nation of Swaziland celebrated 50 years of independence and the king’s 50th birthday. At the celebration, the nation was renamed the “Kingdom of Eswatini” and in reverence to the 50th year of jubilee from the old testiment law, the government ordered the release many prisioners with only 3 years left in their sentence. Our organization implemented a reorganization of staff, roles, and proccesses –including many new roles like Human Resources and CarePoint Coordinators.
Our staff has grown to over 100, and we’re so thankful to see how many have come up through a CarePoint and are now servant leaders. We fed 7,000+ children daily, with a staff member at the CarePoint four days per week providing education, discipleship, and grief counseling. We celebrate Matt Gerber’s final term as Country Director in Eswatini.
We welcomed Bheki Motsa as our new country director and quickly experienced life under lockdown due to Covid-19. Our leadership and the government took the pandemic very seriously which kept many people safe from the virus spreading into vulnerable communities.
Our leadership team decides to switch to a new regional model where our staff is much more accessible for the communities we serve. Children’s HopeChest hands over the ministry partnership to the sole care of Adventures Eswatini, leading Adventures to provide Sponsorship in-house.