Joan Jones School Update

Joan Jones was known for her hospitality, and now it has multiplied to Campamento, Honduras. The Joan Jones Memorial School has now opened there. Many of you gave to help build this school in her honor. The new facility is an elementary school that will house students from the first through sixth grade. Around 180 students will be able to attend this educational center.

The government graciously gave us the land for the school because they needed a facility in a new community of over 300 homes. Members of the LCBC church in Pennsylvania sponsor most all of the children at the new school. The mayor was so happy with the situation that he gave CRF another building to create a technical school.

We think that this new school in Honduras is truly a fitting honor to Joan Jones. Joan had a contagious compassion. She had an immense leadership. She had a joyful and positive spirit that was like no other. She loved the Lord. And she loved children. And no one was more hospitable than Joan. After preaching at the North Richland Hills congregation, Jon Jones became president of Bread For A Hungry World. As a team Jon and Joan traveled all over the world to help orphaned and destitute children. Hopeless kids found help and hope from them everywhere they went.

A few years ago, Bread For a Hungry World merged with Christian Relief Fund. As we worked together, I learned to appreciate even more the humility, vision and kindness of Jon and Joan. Joan is truly an inspirational mother to kids without families on nearly every continent. Perhaps no place was loved by Joan more than Campamento, Honduras. The completion of this school will bring the hospitality that marked Joan Jones to so many little children in Honduras who need a break.

Thank you, Joan. We love and miss you. — Milton Jones

Sponsors Make Dreams Come True

Johnny Miller’s dream seemed impossible.

He was an eleven-year-old Liberian boy who had just survived a seven-year civil war. 600,000 people had been killed. His country was in shambles. He was surrounded by poverty and brokenness. War was all he remembered. How could a boy like Johnny ever become a doctor? All hope seemed lost.

But then Johnny found his way to Ford-Madden Christian Academy (FMCA) and was sponsored by Troy and Katie Link. That’s when everything changed!

Literally without their support, I wouldn’t have reached where I am today! I remain grateful to my sponsors whose prayers and financial support contributed immensely to my life and encouraged me to reach for my dreams.

And Johnny definitely reached for his dreams. After working hard to catch up on the years of education he had missed during the war, Johnny graduated with honors from FMCA and received a scholarship from CRF to attend one of Liberia’s best universities.

After graduating from undergrad, Johnny received a government scholarship to attend medical school in China. He was finally on his way to becoming a doctor! But there was a problem—all of Johnny’s classes were going to be taught in Mandarin… and Johnny didn’t know Mandarin.

There was this huge language barrier that I had to overcome. I had a year of preparatory classes where I learned basic Chinese language and culture. Learning Mandarin was very challenging, but I knew I had a huge support network praying for me. After one year of intense study, I could speak Mandarin fluently.

Now just a few years later, Johnny has graduated with a degree in clinical medicine and is returning to Liberia for his internship. He’s thrilled for the opportunity to provide medical care to children and families who are living through poverty!

Being a doctor means everything to me. It’s a dream come true, a dream that took years of determination, hard work, perseverance and self-discipline. I am honored to be counted among those of this noble profession. I am also excited that I get the chance to save lives. I am most humbled about the opportunity to help people in less privileged communities.

It’s always encouraging to hear stories about children escaping the cycle of poverty, but the story often doesn’t end there. All around the world, CRF sponsored children are growing up to become agents of change in their communities. We are grateful that God allowed us to play a part in Johnny’s story and we are anticipating the great work he will do for Liberia!

I thank God for using you the bless me. You’ve touched thousands of lives, including mine, in a way that you can never imagine. Yours truly, Johnny Carolus Miller





Total Orphans – by Milton Jones

What is the difference in a partial and a total orphan? It’s sad that we have to use those designations.

David Marangach contacted me today to tell me that we have two new total orphans at our CRF school on Mt. Elgon in Kenya called Milton Simotweet. Caleb Kiplangat and Rehema Churtolin, brother and sister, had their dad die. They had already had their mom violently die, and now the second parent was gone, making them total orphans.

“It was a dark morning!” David declared. “The air was filled with cries and prayers.” Caleb and Rehema lost their only living parent on that day as some unknown people attacked them and shot them to death. If this were not bad enough, the assailants decapitated their father and the other victims. And it happened right by our school.

This area is a violent one. Most of CRF’s hundreds of children here have been orphaned by wars. It appears the SLDF (Sabaot Land Defense Force), a rebel army that was responsible for the war that created the many orphans that we have on Mt. Elgon is back. Rehema and Caleb aren’t the only ones who have seen their parents murdered. Kids in this place have not only been left without parents but also food, shelter, and a means to take care of themselves. Without CRF they wouldn’t be getting an education, meals, or a place to stay. CRF has also provided psychological counsel to the children to help them with their grief over the atrocities they have seen.

I’m thankful for our donors who have sponsored so many of them. I’m also grateful for those of you who have built dorms for them. We still need new dorms, and many children aren’t sponsored currently.

Seeing this picture of Caleb and Rehema smiling brings tears to my eyes. This picture with David was taken earlier that day before they knew the tragic news of their dad. I can’t imagine how much changed in their countenance, emotional makeup and total life when they heard the news.

Pray for them. We still don’t know for sure who committed the murders or why. We think it had to do with the army. Helicopters are flying over our site. People on the mountain are fleeing. Indeed, this leaves a lot of uncertainty and fear on the mountain. Our CRF works there have heightened security and are doing everything possible to protect the children. But we still need your prayers.

David said, “Thank you for building this school. Otherwise, they would have no one else to take care of them.”




Elkatarot Ekamaals 2003-2017


I’m filled with a strange sadness and joy as I try to wrap my brain around the news that one of the children my wife and I sponsor in Turkana, Kenya has died. He drowned in a freak accident—a flash flood in a desert where it rarely ever rains.

Elkatarot was out gathering firewood (a daily ritual in Turkanan life) when he and several other children were caught up in a flash flood. Field workers were able to save the other kids, but Elkatarot could not be reached.

This news made me sad in many ways. Holly and I sponsor several kids from Turkana (my church members collectively sponsor 170 of them!) and I have no less than six pictures of Elkatarot in my office. His photos stand out because he is always smiling. Most kids from this region don’t smile much, partly because life is so hard and partly because certain tribes in Africa don’t smile in pictures. But Elkatarot almost always smiled, because he wasn’t like most kids. He was special, what we would call “special needs” here in the U.S.

I first met Elkatarot when I visited CRF’s project in Turkana in 2013. At that time, the Turkana project only consisted of a schoolhouse and a few wells, but it was the first fruit of a project that has gone on to save more than 100,000 people with clean drinking water! This place was called Nadapal. It was in the middle of nowhere, a mini-oasis in a seemingly God- forsaken desert, made into a community by virtue of a new well. The water brought animals, and a village had sprung up around it simply because of the water. A church met there under one of the few shade trees nearby, and that morning hundreds of people were on hand for services.

After the service and dozen baptisms in a river miles away, my good friend Francis Bii came around behind me, leading Elkatarot. He said, “This child needs your help. He needs clothes and food and schooling and to know about Jesus.” I must have, in my awkwardness, said something to the effect of, “I’ll bet we can do something. I’ll consider it.” Then they left.

Throughout the afternoon, Francis continued bringing groups of ragged, malnourished children, saying “Jim. These children also need your help.” Each time I nodded and replied, “Sure. We’ll see what we can do.” And before an hour had passed every kid within reach was interviewed, photographed, and thus became potential CRF kids. The only thing standing between them and a life with love, food, clothing, medical treatment and education was a willing sponsor. I’m proud to say that my church has never failed to sponsor a Turkanan child since that day, given the opportunity! Lord willing, it will always be so.

But Elkatarot was the first child sponsored in Turkana. He was the one Francis and God used to finish breaking my heart. He was the one, with needs beyond my imagination, needs that could mostly be met for my small sacrifice of $35 a month—a pittance out of the well-spring of wealth God has given me, and given… you. How could I have possibly said “NO?”

Saying “Yes” changed Elkatarot’s life dramatically. And it has changed my life, and the life of my church. God used a African orphan with special needs as the first seed. Because of Elkatarot, “starving orphans” became real to me and to my church. And the church has gone on to support water wells, new schools, missionary residences, churches and farms that weren’t there four years ago. Hundreds of souls have been saved and thousands of people are now alive because they have clean water. Connect the dots and they all lead back to Elkatarot, and the God who made him special, the God who used him to bring about God-sized things. Isn’t that God’s way?

So I’m sad to think that this “son” of mine is no longer smiling under a tree in Turkana. I feel like I need a funeral to go to, some way to do something. But the best thing I can imagine doing is making a life-changing difference in the life of some more Turkanan orphans. I’m sad, but I’m joy-filled to know that in his last four years of life Elkatarot was known, loved, taught, nurtured, clothed, fed and introduced to Jesus Christ. I’m joy-filled that this ever-smiling-very-special-special-needs-child was used so mightily by God. I only got to talk to Elkatarot face to face on two occasions; I only wanted him to know that he was loved and known. Now he knows that in a perfect way. And I hope he knows all that God made possible through him that day in Turkana. Elkatarot, see you in heaven!


Your Church + CRF

At the CRF office, we’re continually inspired by the ideas our partner churches come up with for encouraging their members to make an impact. Whether it’s sponsoring more children or raising funds for a school, health center or water well, it’s incredibly exciting to see a congregation fully committed to changing the lives of children in need for the glory of God!

We wanted to share some recent stories to express our gratitude for the creativity and compassion we see across ALL of the amazing churches we partner with, and to maybe inspire you to incorporate CRF deeper in how your church reaches out to the world!


—  LCBC Church  -  Pennsylvania  —

We are so grateful for the Harleysville, PA campus of LCBC church. They are fully committed to sponsoring children in Honduras. This campus has about 1,000 members and they sponsor nearly 300 hundred kids. That’s an average of more than one per family! They even join us on a Honduras mission trip each summer where they can meet their sponsored children!

We love the way the church displayed all of the children available for sponsorship in their lobby by using clothespins, twine and wooden pallets! The display was also covered with photos and testimonials from families who had already chosen to sponsor a child. Thanks LCBC!


—  Palo Alto Church of Christ  -  Florida  —

It seems like everyone at Palo Alto Church of Christ contributed a creative idea for their water drilling fundraiser this spring. Children carried water jugs and encouraged everyone to contribute their spare change. A group of men built a working well on the stage! Then someone built a six-foot tall water tube complete with continuous bubbles and LED lighting to serve as a visual reminder of the church’s progress toward their goal.

And don’t forget the youth group! They learned that the sum of every number between 1 and 100 is 5,050. Slightly more than the $5,000 it costs to drill a well with CRF’s matching gift program. So they put out envelopes numbered 1-100 and asked everyone to take an envelope and return it with that number of dollars. So far they have raised enough for 3 wells! Thanks Palo Alto!




We are always looking for opportunities to connect with churches and share inspiring CRF stories and messages of hope! Are you interested in hosting a CRF Sunday at your church?

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