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.
It's that time of the year when mailboxes are full of greeting cards from friends and family, and it's a wonderful time of the year to reconnect. Reports of all the sponsored children went in the mail today, and they will be showing up in your mailboxes alongside your holiday cards. As you open these reports, it is my hope and prayer that you would remember to pray for the Children of the Kingdom as you give thanks and celebrate the gift of God with us this season.
We are adopting a new invitation into sponsorship from a recent initiative at World Vision, and we are so excited to share how we have implemented this model with some of our children on our waiting list in Lodwar this past month.
As we move forward with sponsorship, instead of having new sponsors search photos of children on our waiting list and selecting one to sponsor, we have asked sponsors to send us a photo of their family so that the children who are on a waiting list could be the ones to pick a sponsor. We believe that flipping the script like this is one small way we can empower students in this process.
We asked the children to tell us why they selected their new sponsors, and we got some wonderful responses.
Blessed Apiaro said, "Among all the sponsors who were displayed, I saw that this was a big happy family that resembled my extended family, and that is why I choose them."
Samirah Eyanae and Theophilus Lomulen Lokaalei selected Lisa and Alan Lord and their family. Samirah (pictured on the left above) shared "I choose this family because they are many just like my family are many. I like big families."
Theophilus (pictured on the right above) said, "My dad has always been teaching us about the Lord Jesus Christ so I choose them because they are called the Lord’s family."
Jackson Ekamais Ekeno and Carthy Eyanae chose Brian and Lori Harmon to be their sponsors. Both boys spoke about the loss of their fathers and are grateful for the Harmons being a part of their lives.
Jackson Ekamais (pictured above on the left) said, "After the death of my dad, we were left fatherless. I have always been missing the love of a father in my life, so I decided to choose them as my new dad and mum." Carthy Eyanae (pictured above on the right) shared, "When I saw a man in the picture, I remembered my father who died long time ago and I trust that my sponsor will stand by me in my education just as my father used to do before his death."
Celestine Elibit Erot selected Peggy and Mark Chidister as her new sponsors. She shared, "After the divorce of my parents, I have always admired one joint family with a father and mother to help me brighten my future."
Some kids have waited years to be sponsored. Sign up to sponsor another child or share this with a friend who has never partnered with Children of the Kingdom.
By selecting one of the options below, you will let us know which program you are able and willing to support and then we will share this information with our offices in Kenya and/or India. Once we have enough sponsors, we will request pictures and send the batch of photos to the children for them to decide. Then you will be informed that you have been selected!
Thank you so much for your support and partnership in this ministry!
It's back to school time here in the US in some parts of the country and also in Kenya as students start new terms.
We offer this prayer for the students as the school year begins:
"Loving God, be with these students. Be with them as they begin a new year of learning, teaching, growing and serving and bless them as students with open minds and eager spirits. Thank you for crisp new notebooks, folders that are waiting to be filled. Help them use all of your gifts to learn more about themselves and the world around them. Use the books in their backpacks to challenge them. Use the paper and pencils to capture their words and pictures. Use the scissors and markers and crayons and stickers to encourage their creativity and curiosity. Use their erasers to help them remember that mistakes are okay and are in fact an important part of the process. God, you have blessed them with so many gifts! Help them remember your call to be a blessing in the lives of others: their parents, their teachers, and their classmates."
Several of our Children of the Kingdom sponsors traveled to Kenya this summer with Share International’s annual short term mission outreach trip, and they were able to spend some time with their sponsored children during their time in Lodwar. Their time together is a testimony that connection and love are not bound by language, customs and culture. Both the children and the sponsors experienced God’s love in their midst and shared joy and delight in these family reunions.
Below are a few pictures of some of the sponsors with a few words about their time with the children.
"This young man (Dalmas) is growing so fast. Active in his church. Good grades. Desires to be a doctor someday. Couldn't be happier to reconnect with him and his mom and dad this summer. May God bless him and his family!"
"Of course we thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Musa, Obadiah, and their sisters—Miriam and Lucy. We were also really pleased to meet their parents! The children came back the next night (Monday) with a gift basket for us and sweet letters. Musa had stayed home from boarding school that day so that they could all shop together. We were overwhelmed at their love and generosity. We are so grateful for the opportunity of having a REAL connection to a family in Lodwar!!"
"It was such a thrill to see Priscilla again...I had been looking forward to it for so long! She is a sweet, quiet girl with an infectious smile, growing into a healthy young woman! My favorite memory will be reading a Bible Story book to her, her father on one side, the interpreter on the other, and all of us enjoying seeing her face as she saw the colorful pictures, opened up little windows in the book, and listened to the story. I'm so grateful to be part of Children of the Kingdom and what you are doing for these children in Turkanaland! May God bless you!"
Turkana County (the northwest part of Kenya) is facing severe drought, and this has taken its toll on the people and livestock in the region. Sasak Village which is about 40 miles from Lodwar has suffered greatly from the famine caused by the drought.
Children of the Kingdom raised funds to come alongside Sasak Village in May, and approximately 165 people received food with thanksgiving at this food distribution.
Seven of our Children of the Kingdom students (Kokure Kamaret, Sarah Losinyen, Silas Ekaran, Peter Akudunyang, Jessica Kebo, Zecharia Etabo and Everline Namuya) joined together to distribute food along with the director of Children of the Kingdom and several staff from Share International. We are so grateful for these servant hearts and for their work to share the gospel and their very lives through this day of service.
To the mothers who are struggling, to the mothers who are filled with incandescent joy.
To the mothers who are remembering children who have died,
and pregnancies that miscarried.
To those experiencing frustration or desperation in infertility.
To those who mothered colleagues, mentees, neighborhood kids, and anyone who needed it.
To those remembering mothers who are no longer with us.
Today is a day to honor the unyielding love and care for others we call 'Motherhood,' wherever we have found it and in whatever ways we have found to cultivate it within ourselves. -adapted from a prayer offered by Hannah Kardon
Sending love to the mothers around the world who pour out love each day!
In honor of International Dance Day that took place this week around the world, I wanted to share this video of some of our students dancing in India from their Christmas celebration.
Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him....
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.
Psalm 149: 3-4
Thank you for being a part of the dance!
When Jacinta Akuwam was born in 1999 in northern Kenya with her legs bound close to her stomach, the doctors at Kakuma Mission Hospital determined that the only way forward was to amputate her legs. Life for a baby in this condition was sure to be limited. But God had plans for this child that were beyond anyone’s hopes or dreams.
In 2005, Jacinta began kindergarten at Olkalou Disability Center through sponsorship in Children of the Kingdom. While in this school, arrangements were made for her to get her first prosthetic legs. She went through tough training learning to walk for the first time. In the Children of the Kingdom report from 2011, the coordinator of the program in Kenya wrote, “Praise be to the Lord!! Nobody could believe that this is the same girl whom we met over 10 years ago abandoned in a village hut. When other people would go to meetings and churches, this girl was abandoned at home with small goats because there was nobody to carry her because she had no legs.”
She transferred to St. Paul School from 4th- 8th grade and did so well on her national primary exams in 2013 that she qualified to go to one of the best schools in the region called Turkana Girls National Secondary School for high school. She graduated in 2013, and she is now attending Turkana University College studying business management. Over and over again, Jacinta has pushed through the limitations stacked against her and has relied on God’s unlimited love to see her through.
Over the past year, she was in need of a new wheelchair and new prosthetic legs, and the amount we needed for these was very steep. Some very generous sponsors in Children of the Kingdom were God’s hands and feet as they reached out to family and friends to raise the support. We are so grateful for their contributions along with the support from our partners in ministry in Kenya to get this accomplished for Jacinta.
Richard Stearns, former president of World Vision, writes, “Jesus understood loss. That’s why He touched the leper, welcomed the prostitute, showed mercy to the woman caught in adultery, and healed the crippled and the blind. He touched, healed, loved, cared, and even wept when confronted with human brokenness and vulnerability. And then He went to the cross so all who are broken might again be whole. Jesus restores, reclaims, and redeems. We could not do it by ourselves. And after Jesus rebuilds us, then He sends us, healed and restored, to take hope and healing to others, to be His hands and feet. Love in action, not just words, because people are fragile. We can’t do it by ourselves.”
Children of the Kingdom continues to be a ministry through which God is sending and healing and restoring. As we look forward to our celebration of Easter, I want to thank you for being a part of Children of the Kingdom’s story as God is reclaiming and redeeming the limited and broken things of this world through your love in action and through His unlimited grace.