This past week, our dear partners in ministry in India were able to distribute food and basic medication to over 100 families along with 200 masks thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. 30 of these families have children sponsored in Children of the Kingdom, 20 of them have women who are a part of a sewing ministry we have partnered with over the years, and 50 families have children affected by HIV/AIDS who are in need of support.
As we mark the anniversary today of 9/11 and as we continue to grapple with the effect of COVID-19 worldwide, the ongoing exposure and cost of racism, and now with massive fires burning in the western US, it is clear that 2020 has put us in a state of emergency again and again.
I offer you this prayer below as you hold all these things and look to God to be our unshakable hope in this time of great need.
A Liturgy for Moments of Emergency:
O God our Rock, hold us in this chaos.
O Christ our King, calm us in this season.
O Holy Spirit, intercede for us.
Be merciful, most merciful God!
O God our Rock, hold us in the chaos of this hard hour.
O Christ our King, calm us in the storm of our distress.
O Holy Spirit, intervene and intercede.
We need you now, most merciful God.
-Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy
This is a summary of the report written by Veronica Lemuya about our second food distribution in Kenya.
As locusts destroyed the vegetation in Turkana and other parts of Kenya in June and July with the worst locust outbreak in decades, the rich are no longer rich, and the poor are poorer than before. This became a crisis within a crisis dealing with the locusts on top of the country’s fight against the spread of COVID-19. Not only this, but this spring, there was a flood that took out the water supply for some families in Lodwar for a time, and there was even an earthquake that unsettled many families. The resulting economic devastation has left many children and families suffering from the loss of employment and income and not enough food and water.
Children of the Kingdom has stepped in during July to support 564 Turkana families (160 sponsored and 406 non-sponsored families). The first distribution of emergency relief was shared with 300 families in May, the first water distribution took place in June reaching three villages, and this second food distribution was just completed in mid-July. Since schools were not in session for the second term, we utilized those funds that would have been used for school fees to support children and families in this time of great need.
We worked with the county commissioner and the village elders to ensure that we were in compliance with the new regulations on Covid-19 responses in Kenya, and we were granted a permit to do home deliveries for all the beneficiaries.
Our mission is “to share God’s love with children in need through the gift of education to equip them to be servants in the kingdom,” and our ministry was able to provide critical support to families with some of our current and former students leading the group of volunteers to make the distributions happen.
In this second food distribution, the food was delivered house to house in line with regulations laid out by the Kenya Ministry of Health. The following food items were delivered to each household: 10 kg maize, 10 kg maize flour, 10 kg beans, 3 kgs sugar, 500 g of fresh and dried fruit, 1 cabbage, 500 g onion, 1 kg tomatoes, 1 kg potatoes, 500 g salt, 250 g tea leaves, 500 g washing detergent, and 2 bars of soap.
Future needs were identified for us to consider for next steps. There is need for medical supplies as many people can’t reach the hospital because of the distance and money needed for medical supplies. Due to this, they are suffering with minor illnesses which become worse due to lack of medical attention. Water is still a challenge for places where the government has not delivered water. Women and children trek for hours to collect water for household use. We are planning a second water distribution in August.
This second food distribution was a great success, and Children of the Kingdom is looking forward to continuing to support the children in our program along with those who are most vulnerable in the surrounding communities.
Veronica Lemuya, our new director, has hit the ground running and has already done more in a month than most people are able to pull off in an entire year. After just one week in the office, she had already made rounds to visit several families and students in the program to survey the needs of the community. She found that the majority of families whom she visited were struggling to put food on the table, and they also needed more information on COVID-19 and on precautions to take to prevent the spread of the disease. She reported that adolescent girls needed sanitary pads as these are normally distributed at boarding schools, and many of them cannot afford them now. Her visits were also important to let families know they had somewhere to turn if they were in need of resources and support. Being on lockdown means that people must stay at home, but homes might not always be safe as some students might be at higher risk for sexual/domestic abuse during this time of COVID-19.
From her initial report, we worked on a budget to pay for some of the most pressing needs that families shared with her including food and other supplies as outlined in the caption above. We were able to draw $15,000 from our 2019 Rafiki Run contributions and from other generous donations for this emergency fund. Over the last two weeks, she recruited former Children of the Kingdom graduates and others in the community to help with the distribution. Veronica shared that some of the volunteers expressed how meaningful it was to be a part of the distribution as they were able to see the needs of the community for themselves, and it was a way for them to give back to the program which had supported them.
She reported that this verse below was the theme verse of the distribution:
Veronica shared, “I could see the joy in the eyes of the children and their mothers. Many were breaking down in tears. I could hear them saying "Ejok noi" (Turkana for “Thank you”) and "Asante Sana" (Kiswahili for “Thank you”), and they wanted me to convey that message from the Turkana children to the Children of the Kingdom family in the US….The entire exercise was an eye opener to me. It’s a call to pray, to reach out to the children, and to give them a shoulder to lean on sharing with them their challenges and walking with them step by step.”
The stories around the world of health care workers who are sacrificing so much in order to save others is incredibly inspiring. We are so grateful to share that a few of our very own Children of the Kingdom graduates are making a difference in this time of global crisis as health care providers.
Devera Bapanamma Bhargavi joined the sponsorship program in 2015, and this gave her the opportunity to pursue nursing school. After she graduated, she got a job at GSL General Hospital in Rajahmundry, India, where she works in the pediatric ward. The hospital converted many of the wards to support COVID-19 patients, and she has been given a charge for one of the wards. We are so grateful that she is a light in that hospital providing hope in this time of great need.
Lorna Lokuwam Lojock was first sponsored in 2005. She had always dreamed of being a doctor when she was little, and her dream came to fruition in 2017 when she received her degree in Clinical Medicine from Kenya Methodist University. Lorna shared the following statement: “I thought I wouldn’t make it at times. But with the help of our Almighty Father, I opted for the Clinical Medicine course which equipped me with so much knowledge and so many skills to help my people with different health conditions in the village. I graduated and got registered with the Clinical Officers Council. Having my people's interest at heart and seeing this as the best way of giving back to the community, I have had the opportunity to create a difference in my society and especially in this period when the whole world is fighting COVID-19. It takes some time in the evening to walk around my village to create awareness and educate our villagers on how to protect themselves and practice good hygiene. I have been able to help those who have become sick at night and expectant mothers who have not been able to reach the hospital, and I have been able to treat snake, spider and scorpion bites so that they are no longer a threat to people like they have been in the past. The support has been immense, and I really thank God for Children of the Kingdom.”
John Kospir joined Children of the Kingdom in 2008 after a difficult childhood losing both parents when he was young and living in poverty. In 2016, he joined KMTC-Embu Campus to pursue his studies in community health nursing.
He shares the moment when our former director in 2008 told him that someone had stepped up to be his sponsor. “At that moment after I heard that, tears started rolling down my cheeks because I realized that God has answered my prayers as He makes a way where there seems to be no way thus bringing back my hope in life making me realize my potential in life. I thank my sponsors for taking the initiative to help me get the opportunity for a promising life. Thank you for choosing me as your own child and taking that initiative of paying my school fees. May God bless you abundantly.”
He chose to enter nursing because he wants to come alongside people when they are in pain and in need of consolation and support just as he has been supported through this program.
Thank you for your support that is training up and equipping students to become servants in this time of great need.
Over the last year, we have been thinking and praying about a number of changes to our program in Kenya to improve our connections with families and to provide warm and welcoming spaces for our students to flourish.
I am pleased to introduce to you to our new director in Kenya named Veronica Lemuya. She was actually our first coordinator for Children of the Kingdom in the mid-90's, and we are so grateful that she is returning to us now to support the children. She brings experience from her previous service with USAID, the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar, World Vision International, Equity Bank Limited, and Oxfam. Her heart for ministry, her passion for justice, and her vision for sharing God's love with children to equip them to be servants in the Kingdom make her the perfect fit for the role.
She has only been in the position for a few weeks, but she has been an incredible asset and has stepped up to support families and children in need during the quarantine in Lodwar, and it is clear that God has brought her to this ministry for such a time as this.
In celebration of Mother's Day, I asked Veronica what she loves most about being a mom, and she said that she enjoys watching her boys grow physically and spiritually. She also loves sharing with them about their day to day life experiences and giving them moral support and guidance.
We take this time to honor Veronica and her mama's heart for her own boys and also for the hundreds of children she is serving as our new Kenyan director for Children of the Kingdom.
Watch this video below as a salute to Veronica and to mothers everywhere, and take some time to thank the women in your lives who have loved, mentored and mothered you.
Thanks to the generosity of those who have given to our general fund over the years, we were able to send some emergency funds to our all the families who have sponsored children in our program in India. Ratnakar Thota, our Children of the Kingdom director in India, was able to purchase groceries that will last a month for each family with the help of his sister, cousin and uncle. We are so thankful for this labor of love and for the way your gifts have been a part of meeting some essential needs for those most vulnerable in Rajahmundry, India and to assure them that God is with them as their shepherd through these difficult times.
There are more families in India and also in Kenya we would like to reach. If you would like to give a box of food for a month for a family, please donate $30 here and send an email to email@example.com to confirm your gift and designation. Thank you for helping Children of the Kingdom come alongside children and families to support them in this unprecedented time.
Kenya and India have implemented measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus with national quarantines and school closures. As I have spoken with children in both places, I am struck with the unprecedented situation we have found ourselves in that the reality we are experiencing here in Seattle with the shelter in place is the same thing that they are experiencing across the globe. In India, people are allowed to go out from 6 am to 9 am to get daily necessities and then everything is locked down completely. In Kenya, only essential businesses (gas stations, banks, groceries, pharmacies) are open until 4 pm, but then a strict curfew is enforced from 7 pm to 5 am. No visitors are allowed at homesteads. Here are some pictures below to see a window of the world of some of our sponsored students.
Will You Join Us in Praying Psalm 91 for 91 Days?
I received an email from our area director of Young Life in NE Seattle challenging us to join with believers all around the world praying Psalm 91 . "We lament with those who are suffering, we pray boldly for God to heal the world and end the coronavirus pandemic, and we seek shelter in the Lord, our refuge. We set reminders for 9:01 am/pm to help us pause, pray, and remember the Lord's promises in these unknown and difficult times."
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the LORD:
He alone my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalms 91:1-2)
Please join us in praying for the children and for the world.
The following article is from The East African Newspaper, and I wanted to share it with you to ask you to set aside some time for Saturday to not just be a Kenyan National Day of Prayer but also a Global Day of Prayer-- especially for the Children of the Kingdom and their families in this unprecedented time.
"Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared Saturday a National Day of Prayer amid the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Mr Kenyatta made the declaration Tuesday, the same day the minister for Health announced that Kenya now has four cases of Covid-19, which has killed thousands of people across the globe.
On Saturday, the President said Kenyans will pray to God in their homes, with a small group of religious leaders congregating at the State House in Nairobi.
“We cannot ignore the need to turn to God. In these circumstances as we have done in the past as a nation, we have always turned to God first to give thanks for the many blessings that He has bestowed on our nation.
"But we also turn to God to share our fears, our apprehensions, but also to seek his guidance and ever-present protection,” the President said.
He said that in God, Kenyans had a place to turn to amid Covid-19 virus, which has been declared a global pandemic."
"God is always there,
if you feel wounded.
over this earth like
a divine medic,
and His love thaws
the holy in
- St. Teresa of Avila
Let us pray for God to come, tend to our hearts and heal our land
and for His love to thaw the holy in us and in our world
and to show us how we can be a part of that healing.
The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Nairobi on March 12th. As of March 15th, there were two confirmed cases, and Kenya began introducing tight restrictions along with a presidential directive that all schools would be closed. As people around the world are trying to take measures to stop this pandemic, I would encourage you to pray for the students in Children of the Kingdom who are affected by this and trying to make sense of this unprecedented global crisis.
I have adapted a prayer below and ask that you would take a few minutes to pause and pray with me for the children and for our world:
Our God who is with us, Emmanuel, we come to you asking you for your help, and asking you to lend your ear in this time of need.
Hear, our prayer O Lord.
As you lifted once a paralyzed man from his bed, we ask you to come and visit us, and raise our bodies and spirits.
Hear, our prayer O Lord.
Grant to us the gift of your Holy Spirit, that our bodies and souls may be protected from sickness.
Lord, have mercy.
And we pray for those who are now suffering from this disease: we ask you, O Lord, to visit them, encourage them, and heal them according to your expansive grace and love.
Lord, have mercy.
As you once listened to the cry of the Canaanite woman, we ask you to hear our voice, for every country hit hard by this disease.
Lord, have mercy.
We pray Lord for the families, friends, and medical personnel who care for the sick, and for those who are being monitored.
Be their rock.
Please bless all scientists, researchers, public health officials and governments who seek and prescribe treatments, and for those who are working toward a vaccine.
Be their wisdom.
We pray for students around the world whose schools have closed their doors and who have worries about coursework and graduation, and we pray for those students who are facing fear and anxiety about this disease.
Be their peace.
For the sponsored students in Children of the Kingdom, we ask for your protection over them and we pray for your provision for their families. Help them to know the Lord as their shepherd all their days. In this time, may they experience the still waters, fear no evil, enjoy the feast God has prepared for them and know God's comfort, goodness and mercy for them each day.
Be their daily bread.
And for all of us, Lord, guide us so that this may be a time of reflection and good will to work to eradicate the diseases that threaten our bodies and the hate that threatens our souls.
Lord, have mercy.
O God our help in ages past, the God who heals and comforts; our Maker, and the Maker of wonders; the one who alone is worthy to be praised: incline your ear to us, and grant, in your mercy, the prayers of your people.
Adapted from Carlos Colon’s Prayer for the Global Health Crisis
I read an article in the Atlantic today written by Tom Junod about his friendship with Mr. Rogers. This friendship is the basis of the recent movie starring Tom Hanks called A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
In this article, Junod shares a story about what happened when Mr. Rogers assigned one of his show writers who was a child development expert to write a manual for doctors on how to talk to children. “When she handed him her opening, he crossed out what she’d written and replaced it with six words: ‘You were a child once too.’”
These words keep ringing in my head: “You were a child once too.”
The picture below is one of the daughter of a woman named Esther whom we sponsored when she was growing up. The joy on her face is contagious.
It reminded me that I was a child once too, and I immediately thought of this picture of me when I was about her same age.
These pictures and this message from Mr. Rogers remind us that we were children once too. Junod continues his story about Fred’s legacy: “He wanted us to remember what it was like to be a child so that he could talk to us. He wanted to talk to us so that we could remember what it was like to be a child. And he could talk to anyone, believing that if you remembered what it was like to be a child, you would remember that you were a child of God.”
Emily P. Freeman reflects on this in her own way:
“Look for the child in the person across the political aisle, in the brother who you can’t get along with, in a customer who refuses to bend, in the partner who won’t see it your way, in the person on the other side of the jail cell.
Look for the child behind the eyes of your opponent, your teenager, your spouse, your boss, your Uber driver.
Look for the child in the person who disagrees with you, who stands against you, who offends you.
Look for the child when you can’t seem to come to a resolution, when your family differences are so strong, you can’t see straight. When the list-making and the round and circle conversations don’t seem to be getting you anywhere, look for the child in them.
You don’t have to embrace them, befriend them or even trust them. But God invites you to see them as he does and to regard them accordingly.”
I encourage you to remember this phrase this week that "you were a child once too" and so are all the other people who cross your path today. Tom Junod shared that Mr. Rogers “prayed for the strength to think the same way about everyone. She is special; there has never been anyone exactly like her, and there never will be anyone exactly like her ever again; God loves her exactly as she is.”
May we all know that we are children of a King who loves us so, and may that knowledge shape the way we view the people and the world around us.