God’s hand at work in Jiti Corps through Mooroolbark partnership
By JESSICA MORRIS
Just a mere 13 hours away on a red-eye flight, Jiti Corps in the Zimbabwe and Botswana Territory of Africa is a church on mission.
The words of Haggai the prophet remain a standard for their work: “Be strong ... work ... rebuild the house of the Lord” (Haggai 2: 4), and thanks to corps member Keturah Mutamutu, who moved to Australia in 2015 by way of New Zealand, this mission is now an international partnership transcending oceans and cultures.
Joining the Sunday school at Jiti Corps in 1965, Keturah’s history with The Salvation Army is rich. She only left the corps to begin high school at the Howard Institute, The Salvation Army-run high school where the late General Eva Burrows taught for 14 years.
It was this that took Keturah to the Southern Hemisphere. On a mission to give back after having so many Australian and New Zealand-based teachers invest in her, she migrated to New Zealand in 2001 with her children.
“My first year in New Zealand I went to a Salvation Army congress in Wellington, and I was amazed to meet one of my teachers there,” recalls Keturah. “What a beautiful, wonderful moment it was!”
Making the move to Tea Tree Gully Corps in South Australia in 2015 after her children had grown up, Keturah maintained a connection with Jiti Corps and heard about their need for a new building. She formed ‘Friends of Jiti Corps’, which began fundraising for Jiti with the intention of funding basic materials to dig a foundation.
The group still exists today – but Keturah’s momentum didn’t stop when she moved to Victoria in 2017. After transferring to Mooroolbark Corps from Box Hill Corps, she shared her vision with the corps officer, Captain Ashley Proctor, and his response was more than she could have hoped for.
“[I had an] amazing response from Captain Ashley. [He said] ‘Leave it with me I will consult with leadership’,” says Keturah. “That was in 2018, [and the corps is] financially supporting the project to date.”
While the project benefitted Jiti Corps, it also spiritually gave back to Mooroolbark as they practised generosity and befriended their brothers and sisters in another country.
“Having Keturah in the corps meant that we could journey with Jiti Corps [and] they would send over regular updates of the progress,” says Ashley.
An international relationship had already begun in Adelaide, and now one was born with Mooroolbark Corps. And its fruit has gone beyond a new church building – they have also built a toilet block and ensured fresh water is available after digging a bore and setting up a water tank. Their next task is a vegetable garden.
“The foundations were dug by hand; the handmade mud bricks were laid and the building began to take shape. Each step of the project was set out and we would hold fundraising events as more money was required to move on,” says Ashley. “Once the walls were up, we had to raise funds for the roofing, then windows and doors.”
Over the years, Mooroolbark has held quiz nights, dinners, Christmas in July celebrations and participated in ‘love offerings’ to support their brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe financially and through prayer. And with an appointed project manager in Zimbabwe who oversaw the initial building development and further projects, Mooroolbark was able to partner with the corps for more effective results – especially, considering most of the labour on the building has been completed by corps members.
“Once the building was at lockup stage, the old building inside was pulled down brick by brick and the old materials were used in the new project. A toilet and shower block was built onsite. Finally, water was needed for not only the corps and the shower and toilet block, but also the community. This was completed and ready for Christmas Day 2022. Now there is clean drinking water available for everyone,” says Ashley.
In 2023, eight years after Keturah began her fundraising efforts, Jiti Corps is able to hold Sunday services in their new building. And throughout the week, a local school uses it for lessons. The fact it is situated in the Jiti Primary School complex assists with this, allowing the corps to support a community experiencing a shortage of classrooms.
“The church attendance and enrolment has increased, [and there is a] spirit of working together and ownership – pride of their beautiful big church in a rural setting, which is beyond their wildest dreams. Now Jiti Corps can host divisional meetings,” shares Keturah.
“Jiti Corps is very grateful for the support and financial help from Mooroolbark Corps and the Friends of Jiti Corps group. This is making a difference and meeting need, and for Jiti Corps, it’s about seeing the hand of God at work through others.”