Nhowe Mission Provides Medical Assistance, Orphan Care, and Educational Opportunities in Zimbabwe
by: Stafford North | October 8, 2018
“Nhowe Mission has acted as an oasis in the midst of chaos.” This statement from their website, well summarizes the challenges and successes which this mission spot has provided. With a fully functioning hospital, an elementary and high school, a program for orphans, and other services, Nhowe Mission is a great outpost for churches of Christ in Zimbabwe, a country in South Africa. They seek to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those in the primarily rural area it serves.
The story of how this great facility and its work came about is quite interesting. In 1993, Dr. Steve Lemons, a member of the church of Christ from Wichita, Kansas, was taking a vacation in Zimbabwe and while there he visited a minimally staffed clinic that had very little medicine and medical equipment. When he returned home, he decided to help the clinic get more medicine, but then decided to do even more. He got the East Point Church of Christ in Wichita, Kansas, to supervise the hospital work and got many others to contribute to the effort. Lemons, pictured here with Dr. Jonathan, head doctor at the hospital, made trips to help at the hospital himself, usually taking family members and others with him.
Today, the Brian Lemons Memorial Hospital is an outstanding facility. In recognition of his work to help move things forward, the hospital’s board chose to name it for Dr. Lemon’s son who, in 1997, was killed in a car wreck while traveling from home to York College. Today, the facility has twenty-nine buildings including the hospital complex with seventy beds, a surgical theater, pharmacy, kitchen and dining area, an obstetric facility, offices, housing for doctors and nurses, and a chaplain’s house. The hospital has two full-time doctors, four nurse-practitioners, fifteen full-time nurses, and sixty full-time staff members.
The out-patient clinic serves about 200 patients each day. The hospital typically handles thirty-five hundred to four thousand patients a month. The pharmacy dispenses about $1.5 million of medicine during a year with various organizations donating the medications. The doctors perform such surgeries as Cesarean sections, appendectomies, skin grafts for burns, biopsies, and care for internal organs. Two birthing suites handle about eighty births each month.
Anyone who goes through the hospital hears the gospel from the hospital chaplains who are there to encourage and to share the teaching of the Bible. This element of the hospital’s work helps to connect people in a positive way with the church.
Dr. Lemons continues to support the hospital and work at Nhowe Mission. He goes about two and a half weeks a year to serve in the hospital and also gets others doctors to go there to assist. The East Point church raises about $200,000 a year for support. Through these efforts and the help of other churches, mission groups, individuals, and humanitarian organizations, the hospital is now one of the best equipped hospitals in the region.
As a primary off-shoot of the hospital, the Mission developed a program called Zimbabwe Orphans Program to care for orphans because they became aware of the more than 1,300,000 orphans in Zimbabwe. They saw the need to feed, clothe teach, and share the gospel with as many of these orphans as possible. Now they have facilities to care for about 600. Cory Mauck directed the program from 2009 to 2014, following which Chris Lemons, son of Stephen, took oversight of the program.
The Nhowe Mission School currently serves not only the orphans who live there but others in the area for a total of around 1,500 students in the primary and secondary schools. Many of these students travel from home each day, some for several miles. The other students are boarding students who live at the Mission in student housing. Students who attend Nhowe Mission receive one of the highest-quality educations available in Zimbabwe. They, of course, have academic classes but, in addition, take Bible classes and have chapel each day. Nhowe Mission serves pre-school students up through Form 6, the U.S. equivalent of high school. The school actually began back in the 1930's but now has grown to the point that on its main campus there are primary and secondary school classrooms, administration buildings and cafeterias, the main chapel building that can host around 3500 people, the boys and girls dormitories, the employee housing, and farm housing.
Chris, who played soccer while attending Oklahoma Christian University, played professional soccer for ten years and then used his interest in soccer to develop a soccer academy at Nhowe Mission Schools. The soccer program aids the children by helping them to be healthy and to use their talents to find joy. They have had tremendous success at all levels, recently having two secondary school-aged players to be ranked among the top twenty players of the country.
Dr. Lemons’ wife and daughters regularly meet with women in the community and have a women’s outreach to serve the hospital employees, their families, and others. While there, they work with the Avondale Church of Christ in Harare and with Washington Mhlanga who works with the church there.
Those involved with the hospital, orphans program, and school are strongly interested in the spiritual blessings this program can offer. Not only do those going through the hospital hear the gospel but thirty-nine out of forty students who live in one of the homes provided have been baptized along with many others who live on campus. All of the children in the orphan’s program are taught about the gospel and church plants all over the country have arisen through the work of the Mission. Many short-term mission groups go to Zimbabwe to help with the programs there.
This mission effort also has provided water wells in communities it serves to allow for clean water that drastically reduces the spreading of disease and which improves all aspects of daily life. Healing Hands International has assisted with several wells at various school locations. The Mission also works with World Bible School which has over 400,000 students in the country. Last year, one of the orphan ministers organized an event where 143 students responded to the gospel in just one day. It took three days to get them all to a stream about ten miles away for the baptisms.
A new Prenatal - Obstetrics Building has been designed to help accommodate the large number of deliveries done each month. And the expansion of the hostel (orphanage) will double the occupancy, bringing the total of students living in the hostel from 40 to 80. These expansions are in the planning stage as Nhowe Missions works to obtain the financial support they will require.
This hospital, orphanage, and school, along with all who have helped either by working there or contributing have certainly created great good news. For more information or to contribute contact Chris Lemons at ZizouCRL7@yahoo.com or Dr. Lemons at SFLmd7@yahoo.com.