I always enjoy receiving comments on this blog, but a comment last week especially warmed my heart. It was a message from Manase Ogola, who lives in Kenya. Manase has been a part of our family since 1993. Let me explain.
After becoming parents, Fiona and I made the decision that for every child God gave to us, we would sponsor a child living in poverty and seek to share in their lives. We stumbled across an organisation called Compassion that was committed to the physical and spiritual welfare of the children, together with their families and community. We initially ‘adopted’ two children, Grace and Manase, from different families in the same area of Kenya.
The connection was mainly through letters. We would write 5 or 6 times a year and they would reply. We’d write news (our kids would sometimes draw pictures), ask them how they were going, and we’d seek to be encouraging. They’d share about how the money was being spent, what they were learning at school, how they contributed in their families, and how they’d been encouraged from learning more about God.
In 1995 I was able to take this relationship to another level. I was invited to be an Australian representative at an international student ministry conference in Nairobi. This gave me the opportunity to visit the children and their families. I’ll never forget this day we met. There were many tears of joy! After writing letters and praying daily for these kids I’d never actually met, it was deeply moving to spend time with them and their families. It was also incredibly humbling. I remember walking into Manase’s very simple home, a mud hut with a thatched roof, and seeing a photograph of my family on the wall. It was so moving to hear his mother say that she prayed daily for me, my family and our church in Canberra. I thought I was going to bless them, but they blessed me more than they could ever imagine.
We’ve maintained our support for these children ever since this time. Many letters have been exchanged and a few years ago Fiona and our son, Luke, were able to visit them again. We’ve sponsored more children as God has blessed our own family with growth. We added Lawrence to our Kenyan family shortly after adopting Grace and Manase. Compassion have also enabled us to continue our commitment to their families once the children have grown beyond sponsorship age. We now support Manase’s twin brothers, Nelson and Allan, and Lawrence’s niece, Sharon. After our daughter, Grace, was born, our Kenyan Grace had a sister called Fiona whom we now support! Grace is now married and has a little boy, named Luke! As you can see the connections have grown strong and are very precious.
While no longer a part of the Compassion program, we have decided to continue our support for Manase as he pursues God’s purposes in his life. He is now studying to be a pastor and we’ve been able to help this happen by providing the fees necessary for his tuition. Aussie money can go a long way in Kenya and we are pleased to continue this fellowship. Recently, friends moved from Canberra to Kenya for work and they were able to take a load of good theological books for Manase. What a joy it is to share with our adopted families across the world. God has blessed us richly and we are pleased to be able to share his blessing with others.
We’ve been encouraged by the work of Compassion. We support their commitment to being Christ-centred, child-focused, and church-based. We’ve experienced their work on the ground and believe they’re a trustworthy group, doing a good job. If you’re thinking of how you can make a difference to others, share your wealth, bring blessing to others, while having your life enriched… then let me encourage you to take a good look at Compassion.