Art for the Heart of Africa: It's No Small Thing

November 21, 2017 | Kathy Smarrella

Our Vineyard Church recently experienced its ninth annual Art for the Heart of Africa benefit. If you don’t know, Art for the Heart of Africa is an event our church hosts to raise money for the Dreamland children, 130 orphaned children, who currently live in the Rhino Refugee Camp in northern Uganda. Our church has supported the Dreamland children, along with their founder, Pastor Stanley LoNathan, in significant ways over the last decade. And by significant ways, I mean daily needs like water, shelter, food, and education: things we often take for granted in our privileged place.

Because of the incredible generosity of those who came to this year’s event, the artists who donate, and the sponsors who help to fund it, those 130 children will be able to go to school to gain knowledge and be better prepared for their futures. However, the most important thing an education can provide is hope. Hope for a future.  

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I’d venture as far as to say that there may have been a time where even the Dreamland children took school for granted. Back in South Sudan, Pastor Stanley not only began the Dreamland children’s home but right there on the same property, he had started a school for the Dreamland kids and the children in their neighborhood. And it was a good school—it got high rankings in Yei, South Sudan. However, now, the children (especially the older ones) see that education doesn’t happen for everyone. They see other children, teenagers, sitting around the camp with nothing to do because they have no one to pay for their education, nor a form of transportation to get there. The Dreamland children recognize that because of the generosity of the people of Vineyard, and God’s goodness, they get to go to school. They are grateful and they know that it matters. They have hope.

It’s no small thing, the impact of Art for the Heart of Africa, on the lives of these 130 beautiful children. Over the last nine years, we have raised close to $400,000 through this benefit. This past November alone over $75,000 was raised. It’s no small thing.

On a personal note, I’m continually overwhelmed by what happens every year at Art for the Heart of Africa. Every single year we’ve put on this event, we have raised more money than the year before. I don’t understand it—truly, it doesn’t seem possible! Because I’m a flawed follower of Jesus without nearly the amount of faith I should have, I go into Art for the Heart every year thinking, this will probably be last year. Because my “deal” with God (as it relates to Art for the Heart of Arica) is that we will be done the year we raise less money than the year before. And God just laughs and shows up and shows off. I have come to this conclusion:

God loves the Dreamland children.

And he uses our church as well as our talented, generous community of people, to lavish his love and hope on those 130 children who may one day change the world for His sake. It’s no small thing, this love of our Father in heaven has for these children. And imagine this—he loves us, you and me, just as much.

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

 Kathy Smarrella oversees spiritual development, groups, retreats, and events with the ultimate goal of creating spiritually healthy followers of Jesus here at The Vineyard Church. She also directs our community outreach and missions efforts, helping our church become the hands and feet of Jesus in our community and across the world.



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