Missionary coming to Minnesota empowers the vulnerable

August 16, 2023
From Aug. 24 to Sept. 3, Lorraine Charinda will be visiting United Methodist churches in Minnesota.

By: Karla Hovde

Lorraine Charinda is a missionary.

“We have the idea of missionaries as white people going to a place with a Bible,” she says. That’s not the kind of missionary she is.

“I wanted to help the communities with the expertise I had,” she explains.

Charinda has been passionate about helping people find ways to support themselves and their families since she was young. She grew up seeing many examples of families who could not fully sustain themselves with agriculture, women who were not financially independent, and children who were malnourished. When she met her mentor—her university lecturer and a missionary—she discovered that missionary work was her calling.

Charinda, whose home country is Zimbabwe, has served with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries since 2017. She works as an agricultural rural economic development specialist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, based in the city of Lubumbashi. She works for Kamisamba Farm, a United Methodist entity that trains farmers across the country on sustainable agricultural practices.

From Aug. 24 to Sept. 3, Charinda will be visiting United Methodist churches in Minnesota. See the end of this article for chances to connect with her.

Charinda juggles many projects and responsibilities in her role. She sees it all as part of healing a broken world.

Workers at Kamisamba Farm sorted corn, separating out that which will be used as seed and that which will be eaten.

She is currently supporting a program of seed selection for corn, rice, and soybeans, so that farmers can increase their yields. Many families farm very small plots of land and raise just enough for their own use. With better quality seeds, farmers will be able to harvest and sell extra crops as a source of income.

Charinda also works with the UMC’s local nutrition center. There, mothers are trained to cook foods with local ingredients that offer good nutrition for their children. There are many cases of child malnutrition in the area, even though nutritious ingredients are available. She says some people do not know about nutrition, and the training makes them aware of the assets available in the community.

Another project she finds especially meaningful is a village savings group, where women can get training and small loans to start their own businesses, such as sewing, selling pottery, or other skills they can offer. Charinda explains that in the local culture, girls as young as 14 or 15 often have children they cannot support, women are expected to be housewives with no source of independent income, and widows are not considered homeowners. If a husband dies, his family can take all his possessions and home, leaving the widow with nothing. Charinda sees what a difference it makes to empower these women.

“To give them a source of income and a source of hope, to see that they are able to be empowered,” she says. “It shows that the church is remembering all these people. It is preaching through the work, not just preaching with a Bible in the church.”

After small business training, one student launched a catfish production enterprise and has already hired eight local youth.

Charinda shares one recent success story that she finds especially touching. Kamisamba Farm offered a four-month training in launching a business. The project was in partnership with the government, which was going to offer loans to students at the end of the training in March 2023. But such government programs are troubled, and the money never arrived. Many students got frustrated, but one student, who had a very small project raising catfish, took all the ideas from the training and dramatically expanded his enterprise, even without the loan. Now in August, he has an officially registered business. He employs eight local youth and pays them with a percentage of the farm’s profits. The bookkeeping and marketing skills he learned in the training were instrumental in making this new business successful.

Get involved

At the start of the planting season for Kamisamba Farm, workers prayed for God to bless the seeds and the harvest to come.

You can hear Charinda share her faith story and ministry in locations across Minnesota Aug. 24 to Sept. 3. Charinda has never been to Minnesota, but she enjoys getting to know new people and cultures and is a self-described foodie who loves trying new cuisines.

Places to connect with Charinda:

  • Saturday, Aug.  26, noon, Glenwood UMC
  • Sunday, Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m., Park UMC, Brainerd
  • Monday, Aug. 28, 11:30 a.m., Wesley UMC, Hibbing
  • Tuesday, Aug. 29, 6:30 p.m., Hillcrest UMC, Bloomington
  • Friday, Sept. 1, 10 a.m. Christ UMC, Rochester
  • Sunday, Sept. 3, Blooming Grove UMC, Morristown (8:15 a.m.), Evangelical UMC, Waterville (9:30 a.m.), Janesville UMC (10:45 a.m.)

 Please contact Gail Johnson if you have questions about Charinda’s calendar. (612-230-6125 or gail.johnson@minnesotaumc.org)

You can learn more about the Kamisamba Farm on its Facebook page.

You can donate to support Charinda’s work through Global Ministries Advance #3022397.

Karla Hovde is the communications specialist for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404


(612) 870-0058