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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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."