Senior Service project raises money for Zimbabwe

A fundraiser was held on Friday, Oct. 26 to raise money towards building a medical clinic in Chinhoyi. The event was held in the Religious Life Center as a senior service project put on by two Mercer students, Lauren Spradley and Indie Coombs.
In the summer of 2009, Mercer student Lauren Spradley went to Zimbabwe for three weeks. There, she worked with missionaries Mark and Helen Begarly, who founded Hunnington Retreat Center, a Christian youth camp in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.
When it was time for Spradley to choose her senior service project for the Mercer Service Scholars, she thought of the ministry in Zimbabwe. She and fellow Service Scholar Indie Coombs held the fundraiser. The money raised went toward building a medical clinic in Chinhoyi.
“Indie went to Africa on three Mercer on Mission trips, and she loves Africa as much as I do. As she was a service scholar also, we decided to partner on this,” Spradley said.
The Begarlys came to speak at the event, and they told those in attendance about their ministry.
Mark Begarly said, “There comes a time when we, as people who go overseas, as Christian people, as humanitarian people, go overseas to help. But there comes a time in which we help people learn how to help themselves. Our ministry is about that. It’s about helping people understand their full potential.”
The Begarlys’ ministry, Hearing and Receiving Christ Ministries, has 13 sub-ministries. Some of these sub-ministries include the camp, a food ministry and a ministry where people go into schools and teach children.
The ministry in Zimbabwe has 17 full-time staff members who reach about 3,500 youths per week, according to Mark Begarly. The staff members are also native Zimbabweans.
“A lot of the time Christian organizations are criticized for going into a country and ignoring the culture and just evangelizing, and that is not what [the Begarlys] decided to do. They realized early on that the only way they were going to truly be able to help Zimbabweans in poverty was to have Zimbabweans run the programs themselves. And so for every branch of ministry that they created, they sent a Zimbabwean to school to get a degree and come back and run that ministry,” Spradley said.
After the Begarlys spoke about their ministry, Spradley spoke about her trip to Zimbabwe and her passion for the people there. Spradley said, “After trying more new foods than I could name, and watching elephants cross the road on a normal day, I knew Zimbabwe would forever be a special place.”
Attendees paid $5 at the door, and a silent auction featuring wall hangings, vests, wooden carvings and jewelry raised further funds for the clinic. Overall, the event raised $1,040, but Spradley said that even more donations are coming in.
Originally, Spradley and Coombs were not planning on holding another fundraiser for the Zimbabwean ministry. Spradley explained, “We’ve had people ask us if we’re going to do this again. So, I don’t think we’re going to do another event, but we will definitely keep reaching out for donations.”
At the end of the fundraiser, Spradley said, “This fundraiser is no magic wand to erase every problem that Zimbabwe has. But this fundraiser is an opportunity to reach out to the other side of the world to people just like us.”
For more information, or to give a donation, email Lauren Spradley at [email protected], or visit the website at