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Zambia, Africa

ZAM13b - Bethesda Mercy Ministry

Partnership Ref.:




Funding Status:

Fully Funded

Partnership Type:

Orphans & Vulnerable Children, Training / Education

Funding Size:

$3,000 - $7,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 4,950

Connected To:



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Funding Contact:

No funding required


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Population: 16.59 million

Life Expectancy: 60.79 years

GDP: US$1248 per capita

Unemployed: 16.0%

81.5% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact

81 families are being assisted

75 children are being supported into schooling

6 people employed in partner businesses

Partnership Overview

support networkDisabled people are often an unreached people group because they are usually thrown out of home due to the belief that they are cursed and will bring a curse to families. Normally the father will leave the family and the mother is left to look after these children, but they have no ability to look after them well in terms of finance or skills so often children are just hidden away and left alone. Sometimes neighbours do not even know that a family has a child with special needs. The mothers cannot mingle together with each other. Because a person who has a disability is seen as being cursed, if they went to the market to buy something the stall owner would not accept their money as they believe that would pass on the curse.

Bethesda Mercy Ministry initially started with a support group that met in two little rooms with 10 mentally and physically disabled children and their guardians. However, the vision was always to start a disabled school and then expand to an integrated school. They now have a special needs school with three classrooms (reception, elementary and secondary) and 44 children. The children are picked up around 7:30 am and stay at school until 3:00 pm. They receive breakfast and lunch at the school. The idea is to train the children so they are eventually able to be integrated into mainstream schools. They teach Grade 3 level math and science and also spend a lot of time learning life skills such as cooking, washing and other things that can help around the home. Last year one pupil managed to be integrated into a local school (Grace Primary) into Grade 4. She is doing well, and the school is very accepting of her.

making a differenceThere are seven Zambian teachers who have been trained through OM discipleship training school (ZAM13) with three of them furthering their education and doing the OM teachers training. These people were identified from the community and showed an interest in the work. This school has always had the vision of community ownership. They also have a number of volunteers and often teams and volunteers with special skills in this area are able to visit and work with the school. This is the only special needs school in this province. 

Peter and Brenda have a real desire to not only assist disabled people become members of the community, but a large part of their vision has also been to bring a new level of acceptance of people who are disabled into the community that they are working in. One part of the ministry therefore is for the leaders to visit local churches and educate them on how the bible sees disabled people and how they should be cared for. Unfortunately, the current mindset of a lot of churches is the same as local communities, thinking they are cursed or that they lack faith to be healed. 

Through three support groups they have set up they are now seeing an acceptance and understanding of disability. The support groups are for guardians of disabled children as well as other mothers and disabled adults. These support groups have produced connections in this community that would not have been made otherwise.

Once a week they also work with disabled adults, helping them learn to cook. This includes going to the market to buy the food and learning how to buy something and get change. For the guardians and parents of the children, they also run skills training in sewing to make goods for sale which empowers the mothers to have some funds for the household needs.

On the whole, disabilities are now out in the open in the community and people feel free to push wheelchairs without fear of what people could be saying about them. 

History of Partnership 

OM Zambia is an organisation that trains mainly African people to become missionaries in other parts of Africa and the world. About 50 students are trained each year and many of them go out into ministry and missions. Many of them are working in extremely difficult circumstances and very rural places. Their issues are compounded by the small amount of support from Zambian churches, though this is slowly increasing.

BHW has been financially supporting OM and some of their missionaries since 2004 and BHW's Zambia Partnership Facilitators have known Peter and Brenda since 2006. It was during a visit to Zambia in early 2019 that BHW's Zambia Partnership Facilitator was made aware of Bethesda's need for financial support and in May 2019 we commenced partnering with Peter and Brenda.  


The direct beneficiaries are the 44 children who attend Bethesda Mercy Ministry school, but this partnership is also having a huge impact changing the mindsets of the local community and churches.  

What We Like About The Partnership

These people are a minority group that are ostracized in their community and this partnership is having a huge impact in changing the situation. 

The holistic approach to work with families to help them change mindsets and empower communities to look after these vulnerable children shows the desire to not just be an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff but to also address the root problems. They are providing supportive communities to help guardians. 


Key People

Peter and Brenda Chila

giving hopePeter and Brenda are married and have five children, three girls and two boys. They also care for two orphans, a brother and sister. Their children are Cecilia who is 18 and in grade 11, Edmond is 17 and is in grade 9 (at boarding school so not in photo), Esther is 15 and is in grade 10, Kennedy is in Grade 8 and he is 14, and Hannah their last born recently turned 1 year. As a family their vision is to see the less privileged find hope in God. 

Peter and Brenda lead Bethesda Ministries at OM Zambia. They are also running a church in the community called God’s Vision and Mission Ministries, where they see people living with disabilities come and enjoy the fellowship as unfortunately most Zambian churches are not disability friendly.

Other People Involved

They have a team of seven Zambians and five volunteers from Germany, Canada and the U.S.A. who assist them. 


Vision And Annual Strategy

The vision of Bethesda Mercy Ministry is to enable disabled members of the community become a part of society as well as bring a new level of acceptance of people who are disabled into the community. 

They are doing this by:
- the school where children are educated and taught life skills 
- teaching disabled adults how to buy food at the market and cook a meal
- running support groups 
- educating churches on God's view of disabled people
- undertaking skills training for parents and guardians 


Annual Budget

The total budget required annually for Bethesda Mercy Ministry is approximately US$17,000. However, they do receive some income from other sources and so at this stage BHW has committed to an annual budget of US$4,950 to assist Peter and Brenda.