The Vineyard Church’s mission pastor Clint Schwartz and its members believe “all our children belong to God and we are supposed to care for them just as he commands.”
The church is in Mishawaka.Last week Pastor Clint and Kathy Smarrella sat down and talked with me about their ministry with the children of South Sudan.
“Back in 2008, members of our church started and traveled to meet with a local pastor in Sudan by the name of Pastor Stanley Lonathan from Yei. He was a true help because in most third-world countries there is often so many cases of fraud when you are dealing with large sums of money or donations.”
Church members met with Stanley, who has been very helpful in seeing that the money and donations reach the children. He is now the liaison in the community.
According to the church’s records, Vineyard has continued to invest in an orphanage called the New Generation Dreamland Children’s Home of Yei, South Sudan.
In 2009, it raised more than $15,000 to put a roof on the school building and began the Operation Joseph Farm (now a 25-acre farm that helps to feed the children of the Dreamland orphanage and support the work there). In 2010, it raised more than $23,000 to build a 100-bed girls dormitory, purchase furnishings, and build bathrooms and showers for the boys. In 2011, it raised more than $24,000 to build a Children’s Medical Clinic, and provided funding for medical supplies, furniture and staffing.
In 2012, it raised more than $32,000 to purchase a dump truck for use for the Operation Joseph Farm and transportation for the children at Dreamland, provided funding to help fix the fence around the Dreamland property, and provided funding to have one goat per week for 2013 to add protein in the children’s diet.“For the past four years, The Vineyard Church has hosted our annual ‘Art for the Heart of Africa’ to benefit and support ... the orphanage in Yei, South Sudan,” Smarrella said.
“Over the years we have used these benefits to not only showcase local artists but to raise money to help our endeavors in Sudan.
“On my last visit I felt a little down because I was afraid there were not enough adults to take care of the children at the orphanage but I later found out the older children are now taking care of the younger ones.”
In March, Clint will be headed back to Sudan to evaluate the medical director at New Generation Dreamland Children’s Home. This will be the first year the home has had a medical doctor and right now only the children living at the home are receiving care from the medical center.
“There are 118 children living at the Dreamland and before I left, I told the older ones they need to take care of the little ones,” said Clint. “The one thing the children of Sudan need most is protein so thanks to our ‘Art for the Heart of Africa’ benefit we are going to be able to provide them with 53 goats.
“This Christmas we were able to give each child a special treat. Although eggs are very expensive, the children were all served eggs for their Christmas breakfast. Taking care of God’s children is our life’s work.”