Three people aim to help those who suffer in Tanzania

February 26, 2014 

There is an African-American spiritual, “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus.”

I would like to say I jump out bed each morning with my mind stayed on Jesus. The truth is that, any number of days, my mind is not stayed on anything.

Yet, one of the wonderful things I have experienced about God is that, even when I cannot seem to focus my attention on Jesus — or the teachings of Jesus — or anything sacred or holy, God finds ways to get my attention.

Social gatherings with food tend to be pretty good bait when trying to catch my interest.

Take, for instance, a recent dinner at a recreational boating club. A great group of people, good food, plenty of desserts. Who knew that God was going to show up?

Of course, God is always with us. It is more about lifting our awareness toward the work of God.

After dessert and new-member induction, the Rev. Carl Gann spoke about Orphans Africa. Gann and his spouse, Michele Torrey, are founding members of the organization with a focus in Tanzania.

Orphans Africa is a charitable organization that began in 2007 with the coming together of three ordinary people whose desire was to build peace between nations by providing assistance to those who are most vulnerable.

A few facts about Tanzania: It’s 1.3 times the size of Texas. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. It’s home to 2.6 million orphans. The unemployment rate is 70 percent. The population is 35 percent Christian and 35 percent Muslim.

The people are plagued by AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid and parasites. Half of the population is made up of those younger than 18. Only 2.8 percent is older than 65.

It’s not the place for a long, healthy life.

Imagine a country with 2.6 million orphans and only half of the population is older than 18!

There is a huge God moment here. Get this: Three people who reside on a small island in the Puget Sound believe they can do something about life in Tanzania; that they can create partnerships with nongovernmental, grassroots organizations to build sustainable schools and provide loans to widows.

Three people!

In a place where people from die from diseases most of us never have to think about. A place where children are caring for children due to a stupendous amount of death. A place where the unemployment rate is 70 percent.

Yup, I am pretty sure they see God as their CEO and founding partner.

We are talking three people here.

In our congregation, members serve in Guatemala, Honduras, Key Peninsula, China and beyond by connecting with other people of faith, sometimes WITH traditions different from their own.

The Orphans Africa website is Also consider attending a benefit dinner and charity auction on March 8.

Serving God and the greater good makes all things possible as God moves to the forefront of mind, heart and soul.

On Faith columnist Janet Mathews can be reached by email at janetkmatthews@

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