Update from Doug Hayes, Pastor in Covenant Fellowship, PA, and Executive Director of Covenant Mercies…
It’s hard to believe it was seventeen years ago – in February 2002 – that we established Covenant Mercies as a separate nonprofit alongside our church, for the purpose of serving orphans in collaboration with indigenous churches in the developing world. The elders of Covenant Fellowship set me apart to lead the work, and in December of that same year I was blessed to set foot on African soil for the very first time. Sovereign Grace was beginning to invest into some relationships on the continent, and I was asked to lead a construction team to Uganda, to assist some believers there in constructing their first church building.
Now, anyone who knows me will confirm that the term “unskilled laborer” doesn’t go nearly far enough to describe me. While I tried to make myself useful on the building site, my main goal was to get to know Ugandan church leaders and explore ways we might partner together to serve the multitudes of children in their community who had been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. By God’s grace, we launched our Orphan Sponsorship Program about six months later, with approximately 200 children in rural eastern Uganda, a bold mission, and a vision to see God’s mercy touch the lives of the fatherless in Africa through partnerships we would continue to build with His people there.
Fast forward to 2019, and we have formal partnerships on the ground in four geographical regions: western Uganda as well as eastern; Ndola, Zambia; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As I write, we have approximately 1,400 children actively under sponsorship, and hundreds more who have graduated from our program. As the critical importance of education has become increasingly clear to us through the years, we have engaged in several special initiatives to ensure a quality Christian education for as many of our children as possible, most recently through a brand new primary school project that we broke ground on in Uganda just last month.
Through all the years of growth and change, one thing has remained constant for Covenant Mercies: our commitment to work with and through God’s people on the ground in the areas where we are serving. Whether in our home communities or in “emerging nations” around the world, God’s explicit intention is to work through the local church. What a joy it is for us in Covenant Mercies to join hands with our brothers and sisters around the globe as they embody the love and mercy of Christ in their own communities, and reach out to the lost in His name.