Remembering Craig Cooper

Craig Cooper was a great man of God and a long-time partner with CRF as the director of our child sponsorship programs along the Southern border of Texas. He passed away in late March, and we miss him dearly.

After a 20-year banking career, Craig embraced his true calling. His role as Director of Missions at the Pharr Church of Christ and as a partner with CRF touched the lives of many thousands of people. More than a dozen church plants in the Valley and Mexico are among the fruits of his labor!

We are grateful for the years we spent in partnership with this faithful servant of God — a man who cared deeply about the welfare of children and the “least of these.” We also remember his great humility. In fact, in his obituary, his family communicated Craig’s spiritual posture by using Psalm 115: “Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

Please join us in prayer for the family of Craig Cooper and for the thousands of lives he impacted for the glory of God. We will miss his leadership, but we know that the same God who worked through Craig will help us continue the work.

Stories from the Drought

The drought keeps getting worse all across the greater Horn of Africa. Stephen O’Brien, the UN humanitarian chief, announced that the world is facing the largest threat of famine since 1945, which is only declared when at least 30% of a population is acutely malnourished, and two adults or four children per every 10,000 people are dying each day.

Here are just a few of the stories we’ve heard from our friends who are working across the region. Please join us in praying and financially supporting those in need of relief from this disaster!




Jim Beck — Malindi, Kenya

Please pray for my people in Kenya. News of food shortages at our schools tells us that our reserves of food have been finished. The drought is affecting everything.We had a good crop last year, but are not expecting any new crops until August… if we get the rain. Costs are high, times are hard. I’m not sure what to do when people you love suffer and are oceans away.

I know drought and hunger are rampant and likely are worse in other areas. But when they are faces you know–the sting is even deeper.




Hope Water Drilling Crew — Turkana, Kenya

As we are drilling a well for a community inTurkana this week, we have been interacting a lot with the family that lives right next to where the borehole is being drilled. They are in a tough situation. At least one of their goats is dying every day… this has been saddening to us as we watch helplessly and rush to complete the well for them. The drought has been so severe, and very little help has reached this area so far.

In this picture, the children are eating some wild dry seeds that have very little nutritional value, but fill their stomachs. Sad indeed. Nontheless they wore smiles on their faces and looked optimistic that better days lie ahead. That is the future we are working toward.




Tim Talley — South Sudan

The United Nations in February announced a formal famine declaration in South Sudan. This kind of declaration is rare (only a few have been made in the last 25 years). It is a cry for help and a plea for donors to increase their monetary support. It is also a sign that efforts of aid have catastrophically been a failure.

Indeed, South Sudan is becoming a failed country. Not only rebels but also the government have purposely blocked supplies given for relief and survival. The U.N. projects that more than a million people could die here in this famine.



Welcome Philip to the Water Team!

Philip Keter recently joined Hope Water Foundation International (HWFI), our Kenya-based water drilling company, to manage the operations and local management of the company. Along with Andrew Brown from the CRF office and our whole crew in Kenya, Philip is working to increase the effectiveness of our water drilling efforts so we can create an even bigger impact for communities in need! We’re so excited to have him join the team because of his passion for our work as well as his skill and experience in managing drilling companies.

Philip was raised in a Kenyan middle-class family. His parents were schoolteachers, which gave him the opportunity to get a great education.

One day when Philip was in high school he saw a news report of a local child who had died of starvation. He was incredulous! How could a person die of starvation in his own country, let alone in a community just a few miles away? He didn’t believe it until one of his classmates came into the room in tears and told him that the boy who died had lived in his home village. The story was true, and it was terrible.

Unfortunately this was only the first time of many that Philip heard that one his fellow Kenyans had died of starvation. Eventually he forgot all about the pit that he felt in his stomach when he first heard about the starved boy.

It wasn’t until many years later that Philip remembered this experience. It was on the day he learned about HWFI and the work CRF was doing to provide water for those in need.

Philip said, “I began thinking about that day, and it crossed my mind that this was finally my chance to make my contribution towards alleviating the suffering of those water-stressed communities in
my country.”

Not only is Philip passionate about the cause, he also has the education and experience to back it up! He has his degree in engineering from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya and has worked many years as a manager and consultant for water drilling companies.

When he’s not visiting our water projects around Kenya, Philip lives in Eldoret with his wife, Margaret, and daughters Ica (8) and Jada (4).

“Christian Relief Fund has been transforming the lives of kids and people in marginalized parts of Kenya and, indeed, the world. What CRF is doing for these communities is mind-boggling.

I feel honored and humbled to be given a chance to lead the crew of HWFI at this point in time, and I am looking forward to working with the great selfless men and women at CRF.”

We’re honored to work with you too, Philip! Welcome to the team!

Kids Can Help

All you need is a good idea and a big heart!

Here are some of the ways kids across the country have made a difference at CRF… What could your family do?



Prescott Valley Christian Church

Based on a dream of long-time CRF donor Jan Northam, teens from the Prescott Valley Christian Church set out to drill a water well in Africa as proof of their faith (John 13:34-35).

They only had twelve in the youth group, but that’s all Jesus had too. Through prayer, God blessed them with a collection of 7,000 pounds of clothes, all kinds of household goods for Goodwill, and a yard sale. Local news and radio started covering the compassionate fundraising of the teens of Prescott Valley.

In the process of this great project, Jan Northam passed away due to a brain aneurism. To honor her life and this dream, her friends and family gave money to her dream of this well. When all was said and done, the youth group had over $5,000 and didn’t even need matching funds! Through their faith, God provided not only a well but also clothes and supplies for the poor in their community. And in January they completed another project that raised $900 to help drill a well in Haiti!




The Cherry Family

After seeing the news of the devastation in Haiti, the Cherry children — Corban (12), Anna (10), and J. D. (7) — of Lynn Haven, Florida decided to raise money for the victims.

The CRF newsletter in December told them just how they could help. They wrote an informational letter to send to their friends and family explaining the homelessness, cholera, lack of medicine, food shortage, and even deaths because of the hurricane in Haiti.

They decided to sell Christmas ornaments that they made from wooden squares painted with the colors of the Haitian flag. And the ornaments had a cross on them to represent that Jesus can make a difference there. I know Daniel and Rachael are very proud of their children. I am too. Thanks for the hope you have given in Haiti!




The Kriete Family

The Kriete kids just keep on giving. A few years ago Eric and Cassie Kriete of Mechanicsville, Maryland decided to scale back at Christmas. Santa would only give each of their four children three gifts, and then they would each be given $50 to spend on someone else.

The first year they bought mosquito nets, chickens, school supplies, and a goat through a Christmas catalog. The next year their 8 year old, Brayden, wanted to help with water. Mom thought he meant a $250 filter so all four kids (Eleni, Landen, Addi, and Brayden) could pool their money and buy one. But, no, Brayden was talking about drilling a well. God does big things through the Kriete children.

They made cookies, raked leaves, fed farm animals, created cards, and sold toys. The local media picked up the story, and money started coming in from all kinds of places. They knew that CRF had matching funds to help, so they were able to drill a well in Chemurgui, Kenya.

Because of the water there, a church and preacher training institute was planted. The kids learned that even further expansions could happen in that community if they only had a solar pump for the well. Nothing stops the Kriete kids. They did it again this past Christmas by making pasta sauce, selling socks that benefitted hospitalized children and the homeless, and much more. Now there is a new $6,500 pump plus a lot of new animals in Chemurgui. Way to go!!!




Singing Hills Christian Church

Vacation Bible Schools are great! But maybe they can have an even greater purpose. That’s what Mike Heisler and others thought at Singing Hills Christian Church in Hillsboro, OR.

They wanted the children to learn about missions, but they especially wanted them to learn about the mission to the poor. The children needed to learn that others in the world did not have everything that we have.

CRF was asked to furnish information on helping orphans and the need for clean water. And children attending VBS didn’t just study missions—they were on a mission! By the end of the week, they not only had learned about poverty, they had also done something about it. Through their giving and fundraising, there was not only enough money for one well to be drilled, but for a second one! Some of Singing Hills’ adults were so challenged by the children’s giving hearts that they said “We can do another one,” and they did! Thanks a trillion!


Moses—What a Difference a Sponsor Makes

A young Moses in his early days at the CRF program in Liberia

It couldn’t have been a better promise. As Andrew Brown and I were dining and talking with three CRF students in Liberia, they wanted to say “Thank you!” for their sponsorships. And then Moses said, “I promise to spend my life being faithful to Jesus and changing the country of Liberia.” The next morning I looked on the front page of the Monrovian newspaper. And there he was. Moses was standing with the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He had been chosen by the President for a special fellowship to help with the government’s top priorities ­—agriculture, health, education, peace, and security.

Gondah Moses Zolue didn’t begin his journey with the president. In 1990 when Liberia was experiencing one of the worst civil wars in human history, Moses had fled to northern Liberia working in paddy fields hoping to avoid the rebels who were kidnapping children to make them enslaved soldiers. At seven years old when he should have been in elementary school, he was running away and farming.

When Moses turned 14, his uncle brought him to Monrovia where he was able to attend the CRF school called Ford— Madden Academy led by Arthur David. Shortly after the move, his uncle and family abandoned him. But all was not lost because Tyson and Meredith Browning sponsored Moses.

He said, “I was glad to have received this CRF sponsorship because it served as a beacon of hope when I needed support the most. I relied on it for everything from shoes to school uniforms to daily meals.”

His relationship with CRF didn’t stop there. He received a scholarship from Christian Relief Fund to attend Liberia’s best institution of higher education, Cuttington University. Moses was awarded a Bachelor of Science in General Education there.

After graduation Moses began working for the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture. His next stop was Ghana where he received a Masters degree in Plant Science at the University of Ghana.

Moses today - a Ph.D. Student at Texas Tech University

And now Moses is at the best university in the world (well, at least my alma mater). Yes, Moses is pursuing his Ph.D. in Soil Fertility and Environmental Chemistry at Texas Tech University.

I’ve never heard such horror stories as the civil war in Liberia. Charles Taylor, the leader of the rebellion, was arrested for crimes against humanity. To survive the tragedy was amazing. To excel through it like Moses was phenomenal. And it wouldn’t have happened without CRF and the Brownings’ sponsorship.

Moses is keeping his promise. He is loyal to Jesus. In fact, he is a part of the campus ministry I used to lead decades ago at Texas Tech.

And he will change the country of Liberia through the development of soil science in his home country. - Milton Jones