Emily Whelchel is a member of the CRF blogging network. She wrote the following story of struggle and redemption and we’re excited to share it with you!
Emily blogs at www.emilytheperson.com
Let me tell you a story about a family living in a small village a few hours outside of Eldoret, Kenya. It began almost five years ago.
Helen is a widow.
Exhaustion was evident in her eyes as she gathered her youngest children to come outside and meet my dear friend Barbie and me. We were looking for children that would match with CRF’s sponsorship program: partial or total orphans, children who were in desperate need of support. Helen’s family sure seemed to fit this description.
In rural Kenya, many families own small sections of land. They grow maize and kale to sell and to eat.
We ventured through paths of towering corn to reach Helen’s mud hut… but her house was in the middle of an empty clearing. This land should have been filled with crops. But because Helen could not afford fertilizer, her quarter-acre of land was shriveled and bare.
“Helen’s husband died seven years ago,” we were told. I couldn’t help but feel confusion. Helen was the mother of ten children, three under the age of seven.
The truth is, Helen loved her children more than anything else in the world. She could not bear to watch them starve, so she sold her body in exchange for food. Prostitution has so many consequences, like the potential to contract HIV/AIDS, but another problem was that Helen continued to become pregnant again and again… and with more mouths to feed, she felt increasingly desperate as she struggled to feed her family.
Helen lovingly held a four-month-old infant in her arms, and she explained that he did not yet have a name. She asked if we would name him. Barbie and I chose the name David for the little boy, as David from the Bible was also the youngest of many brothers. He ended up becoming a king, a warrior, and a man after God’s own heart.
The future of this family looked so very bleak, but I prayed for this little boy that he would never have to remember the hopelessness and hunger that shadowed his life right then.
Several of Helen’s children were soon sponsored through Christian Relief Fund (and my family chose to sponsor David).
Like refreshing rain, hope washed over this family’s future.
Helen no longer had to sell her body for her family to survive. She was welcomed into a local church with grace and love. Her children were able to start school. They had access to basic medical care, clothing, and enough food that they would no longer go hungry.
I met David again when I was in Kenya last summer. He was well-behaved, a little shy, and just starting preschool. He attended church every Sunday and enjoyed clapping to the music during an impromptu worship session we attended.
A few weeks ago, I received a letter and photograph from David. He was dressed in a handsome school uniform and had drawn a picture from the afternoon we spent together in Naiberi. He is learning how to read and write. He is well-fed and has a future ahead of him. And last month, he turned five.
Helen’s and David’s stories changed me, but there are so many families like theirs that are desperate and without hope. There are so many children who are waiting for their lives to be transformed by sponsorship.
Right now on the Christian Relief Fund website, there are unsponsored children who have these same powerful stories of both struggle and redemption.
Sponsoring David has impacted my life in ways I cannot fully describe. Watching this child grow, learn, and thrive in Christ’s love has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.