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Church Earns International Award
The members of a small church in Newmarket, Ontario, refused to let the magnitude of AIDS in Africa deter them from doing something about it.

What began in 2003 as a seedling ministry to people in poverty has recently won international praise. An awards program that honours churches engaged in the fight against AIDS gave special recognition to Yorkview Community Church of Newmarket, Ontario, for its outstanding work in Nakyessa, Uganda.

Dr. Linda and child in Nakyessa.

Yorkview, the first Canadian church to receive such an award, had an application that stood out, says Lisa Hartman, one of the judges and executive director of the awards.

“It was a classic David and Goliath story. You look at a problem like AIDS and it takes your breath away it’s so massive. Then a little church like this with only 95 people directs large resources to the problem.” Judges were struck by the high level of participation. “In a lot of churches, it’s a small percentage who get involved. [But at Yorkview] this ministry is part of the church DNA.”

With fewer than 100 adults, Yorkview manages to support the education and care of 600 orphans in Nakyessa as well as medical care for people in two other communities.

Since 2003, Yorkview has built and funded a medical clinic with a nurse practitioner, provided an ambulance, beds and other medical supplies (including $70,000 worth of vaccines), organized the purchase of equipment and the training of locals to drill a donated well, purchased a $35,000 income-generating brick-making machine, built a playground, a school, dormitories and a library, planted a four-acre garden that includes a 400-tree orchard, and funded a first-for-Uganda milk-goat project.

Of course, not all the funding or expertise came from within the congregation. One member, a medical doctor, convinced associates to donate baby scales and vaccines. Others have enlisted non-church friends to donate expertise. Now groups like the Newmarket Rotary Club and local schools are also getting involved.

Pastor Kevin Fleetwood says the work in Nakyessa began with one couple whose lives were turned upside down as they discovered that Jesus was interested in people in poverty and they should be too. The vision spread and now “there’s a no-nonsense approach within the congregation. AIDS is a huge problem, and we will do something about it.” Others who want to help can visit

Originally published in Faith Today, January/February 2009.




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