A Place of Safety and Care for Abandoned Babies: The Love of Christ Ministry
Discovering Schoenstatt's Spirituality of Human Dignity and the Pilgrim Mother for Babies at Risk
(mkf) The Love of Christ Ministry (TLC), established in 1993 by Thea and Robin Jarvis in Mulbarton, Johannesburg, South Africa, is a Christian family's answer to the fast growing need of abandoned babies in South Africa. The purpose of the The Love of Christ Ministries is to accept into the Ministry's care any newborn infant –without exception- who has been abandoned or is totally destitute. The spiritual foundation is the faith in a mighty and ever-loving God who himself cares passionately for the orphans, and who gives each of them an unquestionable human dignity. During her visit to Schoenstatt June 29 - July 2, Pippa Jarvis, daughter of Thea and Robin, who has made the care for the babies her life, found Schoenstatt to be a 'beautiful place' and a stream of love, life and grace, giving to her and the babies not only a spirituality of human dignity, but the personal Covenant of Love with the one who can and will best care for babies in risk: Mary.
Philippa Jarvis – called Pippa by her whole big family - is paging through the photo albums she brought along and shares the stories of some of the babies who live in her family and of the approximately 240 babies who have been given to adoptive parents. "This baby's mother left him with a stranger in a night club while she allegedly went to the toilet. She never returned; this boy was aborted by his mother and dumped in a lamppost rubbish bin; Frances' Mommy was in an AIDS coma and dying, Frances was also in a very bad state and it was not hopeful that she would recover, or indeed survive the week. In fact she lived for two months and began to show a charming little personality until she finally died on May 11; most of these babies were prematurely born with seven months, due to their mother's AIDS …" The pictures in the photo album as well as the promotional video show happy and healthy babies and toddlers. "What we want to show you are children not robbed of their human dignity," explains Pippa. "That's our ministry."
"What you See are Children not Robbed of their Human Dignity"
"Each new-born baby is a bundle of potential. We want them to develop their natural potential of being noble human beings. We don't know the fathers and mothers of the babies, but we know and tell them that each one is born from a King. That they are princes."
Most of the newborn, abandoned babies move through the ministry into long-term foster families or to adoptive parents – 240 babies meanwhile. TLC is dedicated to the salvaging of these fresh, untarnished lives, through their adoption into a community of families which is structured to focus only on one objective: to raise and nurture abandoned babies into valuable, widely experienced and skilled members of society. "Be a leader, be a servant, be a friend" – this is the motto, both for the children and their family.
Making a Difference for One Child Means to Make a Difference for the World
While Pippa speaks, the two boys she brought along, seven-year-old Tom and three-year-old Carlton, are playing soccer outside, screaming with joy and bursting of love for life. "Tom is albino, a real stigma in African society," Pippa says, "His mother was arrested when the boy was very little, and the child was left in the yard of the house where she'd been arrested. He lived with the dog. When we got him, he was almost dead of the sunburn, starving, not able to speak." Statistics show that by the year 2005 there will be more than a million orphaned infants in South Africa, as a result of AIDS. The TCL Ministries accepts into its care and provides a safe haven also for terminally ill AIDS babies. Pippa: "What we do will never be enough. Too many take this as an excuse to not do anything. When we only make a difference for one child, we change the world." Pippa and her family have made a difference for 240 babies who were adopted, and they are making a difference for about 30 babies and children from seven years down to newborn babies who are cared for in Eikenhof, a farmhouse in Bronkforstfontein – the family's and their babies' home. "We don't charge anybody," Pippa explains, "we have six employees, some volunteers from South Africa and from other countries, and my parents and siblings and their spouses. We all made this service our life."
God has Given us Beauty for Ashes – each Human Being his Favorite Child
On their arrival in Schoenstatt on June 29, a three-week fundraising travel through England and Germany lies behind Pippa and the two boys. TLC needs donations for the medication of the children, and for concrete projects. "Last year we got a trampoline. That was such a joy! We could also finally have some more bathrooms for the children and a small house for our volunteers." Why she came to Schoenstatt? Pippa smiles: "Because the Blessed Mother and Father Kentenich had a gift in mind for me that I did not expect. But I did not know that, I came because a friend of my mother, who belongs to Schoenstatt, had told me I should not miss on that, and I wanted to share about our work." Tish Holding, of the Mothers' Union in South Africa, had given small pictures of grace to Thea Jarvis, for all of the children in her care – an idea that came from Professional Women in Germany. "We never knew much about Schoenstatt, " Pippa explains, "but for me, it is like finding home to a place where I belong to. Father Kentenich himself has lived in an orphanage, he experienced Dachau. His spirituality of human dignity, of each human being precious in the eyes of God, is what I have been searching for. I am fascinated that he says: Each one is God's favorite child. This is how I try to treat each baby that is entrusted to me. Each of these abandoned babies was created by God and he does not make mistakes." Out of the ashes of their unfortunate history, each child's face reflects this beauty. "I like the explanation: Schoenstatt means – a beautiful place. We want to give these babies a beautiful place so they can grow. We want to save this generation for our beloved country, we want to save the doctors, lawyers, sports champions, musicians, artists, servants they can be …"
Babies Struggling for Life – and the Pilgrim Mother for Babies at Risk
How do the babies into Pippa's care and that of her family? "The police or hospital staff call us when a baby is found after 5:00 PM or on the weekend – when the institutions are not available. We go and fetch them. Then we all pray for this babies' life … Often, one feels so helpless when they struggle for their life. We go to the hospitals, but often they don't accept the children when they are HIV positive. Most of the babies we take in are born prematurely, they are so tiny and they want to live…" On Saturday, Pippa Jarvis made her Covenant of Love and dedicated herself as missionary for the Pilgrim Mother for babies at risk. She did it in the Founder Chapel, where she before had written the names of all of the babies and children entrusted to her on sheets of paper and placed them on the carpet – to entrust them to Father Kentenich's intercession. When she had first heard about the Schoenstatt Pilgrim Mother Campaign, and the Pilgrim Mother for babies at risk, in Argentina, she knew: "We need her for our babies. I have to bring her and the graces and the power of prayer of those who love her to our babies. And for all. She will make them strong."
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