My Story: Elijah Mangori

 

Elijah is a part of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program that Grace Church supports in Kenya. This is his story. 

Photo of ElijahMy name is Elijah Mabonga Mangori from Kinyogori high school. As a child, I lived with my grandmother from my mom’s side. When I was growing up, I didn’t know my mom or my dad- only my grandmother. However, in 2006, my grandmother passed away. My dad lived far away, but, after her death, I traveled to live with him.

 
My dad….it’s a long story, really. Let’s just say he’s not in a good way. He drinks a lot; he is usually, always very drunk. I wasn’t happy living with him. We began to disagree and fight more and more often because of the way that he chose to live. I remember one night in particular, we had a huge argument, and he locked me out of his house. I had to spend the entire night sleeping outside; he refused to let me back in the house. This is when I decided that I needed to find a new situation. It was that bad at my dad’s home. One of the members of my church took me to be like his son. I started living with him and his family. The church helped me to enroll in the OVC program, and now I have an advocate who helps me go to school.

 
You have to be strong and have faith. I’ve learned that through my church. Now, I’m a sunday school teacher for some of the younger kids at church. I always knew that someday I wanted teach sunday school. I’m giving back to my church because of how they have been there for me.

 
I’m excited about my future. Now that I’m in a good high school, I can focus more of my time on my schoolwork. I’m also a part of the track team at school now; we wake up early in the mornings to go running.

 
Someday, I want to join the Kenyan Army. In this world, we have many challenges. But we have a chance to make the world a much better place than it is now.

-Elijah

The reality…

The opportunity for children like Elijah to enroll in a quality high school that offers boarding is invaluable. Many children have less-than-ideal home lives, and they only become more affected as they grow older. For them, to live at school and focus on their education and on new friendships is a chance for them to choose a lifestyle that’s different than that of their parents.

However, enrolling in a high school like this is virtually impossible for many of our OVC child partners. Both the admission and ongoing tuition costs are too high for them or their parents. As valuable as an elementary education is for children, high school is even more so.

There are currently four child partners who are the age to attend high school, but are waiting to be supported by an advocate. The cost of support for a high school student is $50 per month. If you are interested in partnering with one of these students through OVC Kenya, you can complete the application here.

If you are a current OVC advocate and your child partner is nearing the 9th grade, please prayerfully consider the ways that you can continue to support him or her, even as the monthly payment increases to $50 per month. The promotion date for our current 8th graders is August 1, 2015.

Thank you for walking alongside these students. Their journeys have only just begun!

 

For more information about the OVC Kenya program, check out our website


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A Cultural Lesson

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a team from Grace Church that partnered with Christ for the City International in Nicaragua.  I have been on several short-term mission trips with Grace before, but Nicaragua was truly a unique experience.  The trip had many opportunities and challenges, and I could not possibly include all that I saw God do during the week in one post.  I had the unique experience of seeing both aspects of the trip, as I spent part of the week serving in the pharmacy of the medical clinic that was conducted in San Ramón, and the other part observing the Pastoral Training classes that were taught in Matagalpa by Tom Fowler and Ken Bickel.  I even had the opportunity to teach a small portion of Tom’s class on the Book of Judges.

While I saw God move in both places during the week, one of the most interesting moments happened within the first few hours I spent at the medical clinic on Tuesday.  I had just gotten to teach a small portion of Tom’s Judges class that morning and therefore arrived late (about 10:45-11:00) at the medical clinic.  Not long after I arrived, everybody took a break for lunch.  We split into three different groups, all three comprised of our Grace team members and volunteers from the church we were partnering with for the medical clinic.  Each group had at least one bilingual member to translate so that conversation could take place.  This was the first chance I had to meet any of the Nicaraguans with whom we were serving that week, and I had the overwhelming experience of meeting several people at once who did not speak the same language as I did.

A middle-aged Nicaraguan woman who was sitting several seats to my left began to talk about how thankful she was that we would travel from our homes in the states and serve in their small community.  She spoke about this for a couple of moments and then made a comment that was rather uncomfortable for me to hear.  She remarked that while she was thankful for our presence and service in San Ramón, she was embarrassed that she and the rest of her church could not provide “the conditions that we deserved”.  She appeared embarrassed by the way they lived as opposed to the standard of living she knew we probably enjoyed in the United States.

I wish I had spoken more clearly to her in reply.  As I told the students in the training classes that morning when I got to teach, I found the Nicaraguans that I met to be incredibly loving, friendly, and hospitable.  I and several other teammates had been taken aback at how well received we had been during our trip.  This woman’s attitude and her comments about her embarrassment showed that many people there have an unfounded attitude of inferiority.  She seemed to believe that because her living conditions did not “live up” to ours, she must have been inferior to us in some way.  In reality, this could not be further from the truth.

Many of us have found that living easy lives leads to a dependence on ourselves, rather than trusting in God and living by the Spirit like we are called to do.  The last hundred years of Nicaragua’s history have been rough for its inhabitants, however, that does NOT make them any less important to God than we are.  While there are many things we have to offer churches in Nicaragua as Americans, we often forget that their churches have things to offer us.  This church could not put stock in material possessions but nonetheless showed more generosity and hospitality than we often do in the comfort of the United States.

Their attitudes while giving up their week to serve their community showed that joy is indeed not found in circumstances, and in my mind, made Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11-13 make a whole lot more sense.  It reminded me that our job in global missions is not to make churches in other countries look like Grace Church, but to help them serve and expand God’s Kingdom in the context of their own culture.

-David Vaughan


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A Fresh Perspective

Over the past few months, I have heard many great things about the OVC Kenya program.  However, my experience with the program was purely superficial.  I only knew how many advocates and children there were, the amount of money necessary to support a child, and other facts about the program.

The OVC Kenya Advocacy Gathering on Monday night helped shed some light on my perspective.  I had the chance to meet many of the current advocates, and this gave me  the opportunity to witness their excitement when they watched a video of the children and to hear concern that they had for these children as they engaged in conversation with Megan and Brian.

 

 Now I see the OVC Kenya program as more than just an area to give money; it gives people the ability to make long-term investments in these children’s lives.

 

Rather than being stuck in the cycle of generational poverty, these children now have the ability to receive an education and to someday find jobs where they can support themselves and their families.

The story of one boy stands out to me. He began the OVC Kenya program years ago, and now he a successful entrepreneur and is currently giving back by supporting a child himself.  The goal is not just to funnel money into a troubled system, but instead to show the children their potential and enable them to escape a life of poverty so they can have the ability to make a difference.

 

-Eric Williamson, Cultor House 


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