Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye – Ponoka News
After 11 years the Mayor’s Community Prayer Breakfast continues as a tradition of prayer and fellowship. Representatives and churches came to pray April 6 at the Kinsmen Community Centre, for leader Mayor Larry Henkelman’s, Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins, who was in attendance, and Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox.
Calkins thanked everyone for coming and was grateful for their support. “I’ll need your prayers and your support and your guidance.”
Mayor Henkelman feels these prayer breakfasts would not be possible without the work of the Ponoka Ministerial Association. “Ponoka is a better place to live because of the ministerial association.”
He also introduced guest speaker Pastor Brian Thomson and a program called Home of Hope. “They’re looking after almost the population of Ponoka.”
Attendees had the chance to hear how Thomson’s group, which helps impoverished women and children in Third World countries, has made changes around the globe.
These Homes of Hope in Rwanda, India, Kenya and the Congo are orphanages for children. They are helping 4,000 children with a goal of 10,000. “Rwanda is the number 1 place in the world of children raising children.”
Many of them do not have a home, were born with AIDS or have parents who died from AIDS and have many needs.
“One of the first things you give the kids is toothbrushes,” said Thomson.
Kids usually suck on sugar cane, which makes their teeth rot. When he travelled to Kenya, Thomson found one of the biggest issues people faced was unwanted babies in poor neighbourhoods; rape or incest was causing mothers to throw their babies into a 30-acre garbage dump. To tackle that matter the group has hired a person to find those babies and they have signs posted at the dump entrance. Those signs ask mothers to contact the Home of Hope who will take the unwanted babies.
“It’s pretty much impossible to adopt a child from Nairobi,” explained Thomson.
One of the ways his group is dealing with this is to have people sponsor a child at their Home of Hope missions. “You can go and change someone’s life in a matter of minutes.”
He referenced U2 singer Bono who said: “A child should not suffer because they were born in this world.”
Children are also being given a pig as a long-term sustainable initiative. A pig provides value to a person who can breed them. More pigs helps a person become self-sustainable.
Another part of these programs is to provide women with micro-loans to help then find a place to live and a chance to buy some clothing. This sets them on an upward path and there is a more than 97 percent repayment rate among women, compared to 40 percent from men. “In one project alone we helped 81 women.”
Thomson is training 15 people in Red Deer for his 17th trip since these projects started.
Pastor Rob McArthur was rather surprised to receive a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. MP Calkins presented the medal and said McArthur has earned the trust and respect of everyone in this community. “He’s a good friend to everybody.”
McArthur was quite speechless. “Thank you… I’m beyond humbled and very grateful.”
He feels there are others in Ponoka who are also deserving of the medal, especially among spiritual leaders.
“These are the men and women that lay down their lives for our community,’ stated McArthur.
MLA Rod Fox was unable to attend but sent a letter stating his greetings and gratitude.