An Inverallochy couple have recently returned from a Missonary trip to Swaziland and hope to help fundraise for a new church there.
John and Elsie Tait headed to the African country earlier this year.
Swaziland is neighboured by Mozambique to its east and South Africa to the north.
In a special report to the Herald, Mr Tait told us: “Economic growth in Swaziland has lagged behind that of its neighbours.
“Low agricultural productivity, repeated droughts, the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS and an overlly large and inefficient government sector are likely contributing factors.
“Swaziland is critically affected by the HIV and AIDS disease.
“It has the highest HIV infection rate in the world and a life expectancy of 50 years,” he said.
“In 2009, an estimated 7,000 people died from AIDS-related causes from a total population of approximately 1,185,000.”
Mr Tait said the AIDS epidemic has broken up the traditional extended family unit, leaving many young children orphaned and fighting for survival.
“As a result of the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS, residents of Swaziland have the lowest documented life expectancy in the world at 31.88 years, less than half the world average.”
Mr Tait says Christianity in Swaziland is sometimes mixed with traditional beliefs and practices.
“Many traditionalists believe that most Swazis ascribe a special spiritual role to the absolute monarch,” he said.
“We motored from the north at Jeppe’s Reef all the way through Piggs Peak to Mbabane in the south.
“ We were most impressed by the Swazi’s secluded beautiful landscape.
“The poverty-stricken Swazis are yearning for practical expression of the Love of Jesus.
“Led by Pastor Osborn Hleta and his wife Dr Simangele, the fellowship of 120 Assemblies of God are the antidote to the AIDS crisis,” he continued.
“Their Christian message is clear - ABC: Abstinence before or outside marriage; Be faithful to your husband or wife; Christian conversion.
“Their witness is supplemented by the ministries of Emmanual Press ‘Reaching All Africa for Christ through the printed Word’.”
Mr Tait says their church in the capital Mbabane is well established with great vision for expansion.
“However, they need finance for their new building,” he said.
“To help this impoverished country we would ask people to donate to the cause.
“If you would like to help please credit direct RBS account number 0027132, sort code 83-20-7 or send a cheque made out to ‘Emmanual Press’ to Emmanual Press UK 1/c John Tait, 43 Rathen Road, Inverallochy, AB43 8YB.
Alternatively if you would like to find out more about the project you can call Mr Tait on (01346) 582430 or log on to the website www.emmanualpress.co.za