While most people were doing last-minute shopping and cleaning last week, Jonathan Snyder was in Africa spreading the message of Christmas to underprivileged children.
Snyder, a freshman at Louisiana State University and recent Destrehan High graduate, traveled to Mozambique for 10 days with nine members of Healing Place Church to give children a holiday experience. The group threw Christmas parties for 1,500 children that included gifts, games, crafts, water slides, space walks and skits.
They visited the towns of Maputo and Xai Xai, and had the opportunity to visit an orphanage and give presents to 100 orphans. The group also took part in a feeding program for 400 other children.
"Thereís a quote that says, ĎA smile is the same in every language,í" Snyder said. "I know that this quote is true because on every trip that I take, a simple act of smiling at a child can make their day."
This is not the first time that Snyder has stamped his passport to help others around the world. In the past, he has helped provide clean water to a village in Haiti, provided food for orphans and conducted Bible School in Jamaica, conducted ministry in the slums of South Africa and given the Christmas experience to children in Mexico. He has also done missionary work in India.
Snyder said that this most recent trip has reenergized his passion to help people locally and globally.
"On every trip, I am reminded that these are real people who are forgotten about – people that are not even guaranteed one meal a day," he said. "Itís one thing to see it on TV and feel sorry, but once the commercial is over people can easily forget about the needs of people worldwide.
"But once you have physically been to a country where children are starving and you help feed them, you realize that it really happens."
Now Snyder hopes to spread that knowledge by founding a new Christian non-profit organization called World Outreach International.
"The focus will be each year to go into an impoverished country and meet the physical needs of the people, and to use that as an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with those people," Snyder said.
The organizationís motto is "Seeing a need. Making a difference. Shining His light." and Snyderís first goal is to build a school in Uganda.
He said that a school for 350 students that includes a place for teachers to stay would cost about $120,000 to build. He said that schools are an integral part of society that is missing in some areas of Uganda.
"Not only do children attend the schools there, but many adults in those communities havenít received any form of education," he said. "So after the children are done with school, many adults desire to learn what their children are learning so they go to school at night.
"I know $120,000 may sound like a lot of money, but the way I look at it is that itís as simple as 6,000 people giving $20."
Snyder said he has already started discussing partnerships with other organizations to build the school and that he is filing paperwork for the non-profit this week. Once everything is filed, he will be able to receive tax-deductible donations.
|Former Destrehan High School student Jonathan Snyder (far right), who now attends LSU, traveled to Mozambique, Africa and helped throw Christmas parties for 1,500 children. The parties included games, gifts, water slides and space walks. Snyder now plans|