More than 200 children gather each week at the Sambasha Baptist Student Center, necessitating three building projects at the church. The latest will replace the original wooden church building with a new, permanent structure.
A thin layer of sawdust settles over the children at the Sambasha Baptist Student Center (TZ-503). The little ones giggle at their dusty hair, while the older children simply brush the dust out of their schoolbooks and continue studying. The floating sawdust and pounding hammers are small inconveniences compared to the new, spacious classrooms and the growing auditorium that holds hundreds of Compassion-assisted children and their parents on Sunday mornings.
A Time of Growth
Sambasha Baptist Church is no stranger to church building projects. Since it began partnering with Compassion in 2001, the church has expanded three times. "Formerly, we had a very small wood structure as our church building," says Pastor Saitoti Meibuko. "Soon after the start of the project we had to build another, bigger building. At the same time we built classrooms for the children. The number of Christians kept growing, and we decided to begin building a bigger, permanent structure."
In six years, the Sambasha Baptist Church has grown from 74 members to nearly 250. The reason for the growth of his church is clear to Pastor Saitoti. "It is a great miracle," he says with a smile. "We are able to visit a lot of the families in the community because their children are registered in Compassion's program. Through this, people have gained more confidence in the church. Even those who do not have children in the project are happy to see what the church is doing."
While the members of Sambasha Baptist Church have long lived just a few miles from villages filled with malnutrition, infant mortality and death, few understood the extent of the poverty of Sambasha Village. Many averted their eyes as they passed children begging on the street. But now, as businessmen sit side-by-side with squirming children in tattered clothes, poverty has a face and a name.
"I have seen the hand of God working through our church," says Pastor Saitoti. "Before the project began, my ministry was very low, but now I can see how we have improved. There has been a spiritual transformation, and now my congregation gives of themselves to serve the children and families who have nothing."
Expanding the Ministry
Pastor Saitoti is excited to expand his church's ministry in Sambasha Village. It plans to offer more parenting seminars to teach parents and families about health and nutrition. Each week he fills his calendar with community events - a children's choir performance one night, a promise to speak about Compassion's program to the community on another. Each event attracts hundreds of parents, grandparents and community members to the church. "I am so happy and thankful to God that he gave us the door to reach a lot of children and parents through Compassion," says Pastor Saitoti. "It is my prayer that God will continue to bless this organization."
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