Dordt College News

One body one hope

January 23, 2012

The story of One Body One Hope began when Dean of Chapel Aaron (’99) Baart and his wife, Nicole (Vander Vliet, ’99), travelled to Ethiopia to adopt their son Judah.

In Addis Ababa, they met Rev. Robert Bimba, a minister who leads a network of churches in Liberia called Abide in the Vine Fellowship.

Liberia is an impoverished and hurting country. Civil war has left the economy in ruins and most of the population below the poverty line, including many children who lost their parents in the wars. Bimba’s brother Emmanuel, who leads one of the Abide in the Vine congregations, felt called to reach out to these orphaned children. Despite limited resources and money, he and his wife founded the Christ is Our Hope Orphanage, which houses 53 children.

After the Baarts learned about Abide in the Vine Fellowship and the orphanage, they felt called to partner with this community, and so One Body One Hope was born, offering hope to more orphaned children of Liberia. Today many Sioux County residents, as well as donors throughout the United States and Canada, are living out the call to partner with this Christian community in Liberia. Many of the ministry’s board members are Dordt graduates or have connections to Dordt College.

Baart explains that he does not view this ministry as a partnership between churches, but a partnership between people. “We initially just set out to help some friends, and we have kept that mentality as we have moved forward.” 

One of the ways this partnership mentality manifests itself is in the frequent trips to Liberia. One Body One Hope’s board members try to travel to this community at least once a year to reconnect and provide hands-on support. The opportunity to work, talk, worship, and pray with this community in Liberia deepens the sense of personal relationship and commitment that makes this model of ministry unique.

“These are our friends,” reiterates Baart. “We can pray for these people by name, and they can do the same for us.”  

One Body One Hope also raises money for food relief, the development of farm land, and the children of the orphanage. Each of the 56 orphans has a sponsor who provides $40 a month for adequate clothing, food, care, and education. This monetary aid has also allowed the community to start a school that One Body One Hope children and others can attend. The teachers and administrators, too, are sponsored through One Body One Hope.

Although those involved with One Body One Hope find it rewarding to see how aid and prayer are directly benefiting this community of Liberia, their long-term goal is to develop enough jobs and income that the monetary support from sponsors will become unnecessary.

Baart explains, “On this end, we have the resources and can tap into our finances, but the school, the farms, the orphanage—they own those. Ultimately, we want to see this community flourish and become self-sustainable.”

With further development in mind, the One Body One Hope board has discussed the possibility of a chicken farm, a trade school, and even some manufacturing.

The aid that the Sioux County community has provided for this Liberian community is evident, but Baart points out that the benefits go both ways. “We try to be a ministry with integrity. This experience has affected how we live, what we read, what we buy. The real joy comes not just in helping people in need but also realizing how much we have been changed by these relationships.”


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