by Joy Casey

For seven years a handful of Christ-followers prayed for a spiritual breakthrough among their kinsman in a Muslim village of about 5,000 people.  In 2010, God led us to this dusty village to begin getting to know the people, understand their culture and to find ways to address the deep, deep poverty that affected just about every facet of life—health, education, hygiene, infant mortality, life expectancy.

We began by bringing a water source to the village and building houses for desperately poor widows.  An animal husbandry project was started for single mothers identified as most needy by the village chief, and a school for pre-schoolers and kindergarten children was established.  Eventually a church was built next to the school and just last year a training center for Christian leaders was constructed.

But most meaningful are relationships with these treasured people forged through the ups and downs of life, political upheaval, birth and death.  I have sat in huts praying for the sick and dying.  Getting a hug from a blind woman who was the grateful recipient of a new, clean house was a joy.  Sitting with other villagers paying respects to a family whose husband had died was sobering.  Providing bibles or audio bibles to new converts… nothing better!  Playing a clapping game, running under a giant parachute holding the hands of children or cheering on an impromptu football (soccer) game are some of my most precious memories.  It has been a privilege to get to know the missionaries sent out from this village, to be invited to their homes for coffee and hug their wife and children.  How blessed I am!

The people living here have never known abundance, but most of the time the plot of land next to their hut produces enough maize to eat and barter with.  This year of drought has decimated any reserves they may have had leaving families starving and suffering with the secondary effects of malnutrition:  stomach aches, skin sores, listlessness, chronic headaches and a litany of other ailments resulting from too little food.

The 60 kindergarten children in our Mana Gammachuu school (literally translated ‘House of Joy’) were showing all the typical signs of hunger – and how can a child learn when he/she has no energy reserves?  Thankfully the school gives them a nutritious lunch every school day, but what about dinner or breakfast and how are the other people in their family faring?

Until this drought is over, NewLife is committed to providing a sack of maize monthly to each kindergarten family.  We have been doing this for five months and the difference it has made is astounding!

Mothers have smiles on their faces once again.  Children are full of energy and running and playing… and learning.

I (and our whole team!) also have smiles on our faces, for God has given us an extraordinary love for these village people.  We can only say, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!”  And we pray for rain to come in the proper seasons.