Do You Know Who John Abraham Was?

I asked that question to about 800 school children at the John Abraham Christian School in Neyba, The Dominican Republic. I was there visiting the school and the principal asked me to give some encouragement to the kids. Many come from very poor living conditions and needed some encouragement. So that is how I opened my talk at the assembly.

Not one of them knew the story that tells the beginning of the Christian Relief Fund. So they listened as I spoke about a man who gave his life serving others in India. During a famine, John Abraham tried to help as many of his villagers as he could. He asked Baxter Loe, a visiting preacher, if he would send money to help feed starving people when he returned to the USA. Baxter agreed, but in his busy-ness, forgot to send money. When he finally remembered some time later, he sent a wire asking how best to send money. He received a short but devastating reply…”John Abraham is dead.

That news set Baxter Loe into action creating the John Abraham Christian Relief Fund, to help John’s surviving children. It grew from that humble start to the CRF of today.

The children were all quiet, listening to this story. Then I told them another story about a boy named Elvis, and how he singlehandedly saved the Orphan’s Day School in the Nyalenda Slum of Kisumu in Kenya. Education Ministry officials had been trying to shut our school down for years. They pointed to the lack of school supplies, textbooks and properly certified teachers and told us our school was substandard. They tried so many ways to shut us down, but couldn’t until they thought up a plan that they hoped couldn’t fail.

They plotted and thought that if they made our 8th graders take the national exam, and they scored poorly, they could force the closure of our school. Elvis was one of those students. To say he did well is an understatement; he had the highest score in the entire country! So the school officials were forced to certify our school and gave up their plans to close it down. Today Elvis is an Electrical Engineer and he helps sponsor a kid who was just like him.

That is the way to keep 800 kids mesmerized. You tell them about a kid just like them. Then I made the first mistake and got them all riled up. I first asked them, “Do you have textbooks?” They all yelled in unison, “Yes!” Then I asked them, “Do you all have good teachers?” “Yes!” and that answer was louder. “Do you have enough school supplies?” They screamed even louder, “Yes!” Then I told them, “You have books, supplies and great teacher. You don’t have any excuses to fail.” “NO!” they replied. I pointed to their teachers off to the side and said, “Okay, you have heard it straight from their mouths.” All the teachers were grinning.

My second mistake was telling them that I wanted my picture taken with them so I could post it on Facebook. It became a free-for-all of pushing, shoving, all clamoring to get close so they would be in the picture. I was amazed that no one was crushed in the wave of children. I think the picture came out great. You can’t tell that I can hardly stay upright.

Sponsors like you help these children attend school so that they can have a future. Look at the picture and into the faces of future success stories like Elvis and be proud of your involvement because we are all so proud of you. Now you too know who John Abraham was.

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