As spring 2015 nears, one Woodstock family’s move to Africa is becoming a reality. Extending Hands ministry and International Teams are hosting a benefit from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at Suncreek Farms for the Choitz family so they can move to Chongwe, Zambia, to minister to local communities there.
Extending Hands, a nonprofit started by Kristin Choitz after her first visit to Zambia in 2008, was designed to “give the opportunity of a sustainable living to the widows and vulnerable women of Zambia who are affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS.” Choitz, her husband, Ben, and children Kate, a sophomore at Woodstock High School, and Carter, a seventh-grader at Creekside Middle School, are raising funds to move to Zambia to continue the work they started with Extending Hands. The oldest daughter, 18, will be attending Augustana College.
Factoring in essentials like paperwork, airfare, insurance and budget to permanently move a missionary family of four from the U.S. to Zambia, International Teams estimate the Choitz’s set-up expenses at between $50,000 and $60,000. The “Under One Sky” benefit – featuring raffles, sales of products made by women in Zambia, a pig roast and musical performances by Tina Jenkins Crawley and Chris Frankowski – will help the family with their one-time moving costs.
“This benefit is about making as big of a dent as we can in those costs and really helping people understand that doing that, and that money, per se, is really about us being able to be there long term,” Kristin Choitz said.
Working with Zambian Rev. Luke Buleya of the Baptist Fellowship of Zambia, the Choitz family will minister in Chibolya, a village of about 4,000 within Chongwe. Choitz said Carter also will start a baseball ministry to begin conversations with younger boys about the Bible and how they should treat their mothers, sisters and other women. She said he has received generous equipment donations from Woodstock Little League.
“Between last year and this year, [the Zambians] have been really convicted about the fact that they have not been reaching out in their own community in Chongwe,” Choitz said. “We just really see us and a future team of I-Teams coming along with this church, going into this community and trying to transform lives.”
To minister in the area, the family will require transportation from their future home in Chongwe, which is very costly in Zambia.
“This is about people’s souls and lives and hearts, not about us having to buy a motorbike and a four-wheel-drive vehicle. … it’s that I’ll be able to drive around in these little, rutted roads and be able to get to the very people that we want to minister to.”
Like other missionaries, the Choitz family must obtain their own personal funding from individuals, churches and other organizations.
“We are selling everything here, and we have to start completely over,” Choitz said. “We’re only taking what we can take on the plane.”
Tickets for the Under One Sky benefit are $35 per person in advance and $40 at the door. RSVP to www.extendinghands.org/pages/events. Pay by check or make a donation to Extending Hands, P.O. Box 181, Woodstock, IL 60098.