Today I am excited about a new development for IAMercy. We have started helping girls. Right now we are only helping in small ways. But a new journey has begun.
From March of 2015 until around November of 2016 we only saw boys coming to our feedings. We knew that there must also be girls who were struggling. But, they were too shy to attend.
That began to change in the final months of 2016 when Yvonne summoned the courage to attend the IAMercy feeding we call "The Daily Bread Project." Her brother had been coming for awhile. She had seen us assist him in small ways (we helped him with needs for school clothing, shoes, etc.). Noah Chagwi (my Kenyan counterpart in ministry) would make house calls to check in on Yvonne's brother and family, and discuss what could be done to keep the boy in school. Finally, Yvonne said, "Is this ministry only for boys? What about me?"
(Side note: On my way back to Nairobi from the States I visited the Louvre where I saw some famous artwork - including the Mona Lisa. Is it only me or is there a Mona Lisa like quality to Yvonne's gaze in the picture above? She is a confident and bold young woman - and there is a gleam in her eyes that tells me she has it in her to do mighty things one day).
Yvonne's parents are desperately poor. They could not afford to keep her in school. But she is courageous. She would sneak into school and sit in the desk even though she knew her parents had not paid her fees.
The teachers didn't like this. They would chase her and tell her to come back when her parents had settled her account. Then she would sneak back in and sit at the desk until exam time. When the test came they would shoo her away again.
Yvonne would just come back. She could not be dissuaded. Her thought was that either she must continue in school - or drop out and get pregnant young (this really was her analysis - not mine). She chose academic advancement.
Finally though the teachers got very firm with her and told her that because there was no money paid to her account she must never come back.
That's when she turned to IAMercy. I told Noah to encourage her to come to the feedings...and she did!
She first came to the feeding with her mother. Clearly - the boys really intimidated her. But, after the first visit with her mom she was bold enough to come on her own thenceforth.
In January IAMercy decided to put Yvonne in the same primary school my sons attend. We pay her school and lunch fees so she doesn't have to worry about the money anymore. Now all she has to focus on is doing well in her education. (She still lives with her parents who cater for her other needs).
Investing in Yvonne's educational life ended up leading us to invest in her spiritual life. She attends Noah's church in the slum with her parents. Earlier this year she made a public proclamation of her faith in Jesus. Noah evangelized her but he was occupied on our baptism day - so in May I had the great joy of baptizing my first girl in Africa.
Yvonne continues to come to the feedings on Saturdays. But now she brings other girls with her. It is not unusual for her to bring five other young women besides herself. Today she had Mary and Martha in tow.
Right now we are helping girls in small ways. But - if you would like to see us expand this ministry with girls I invite you to take action. Please share the word. Pray for wisdom and guidance and for the right female leaders to get involved. Give as God leads you. Join us in this new thing that God is doing with IAMercy in Nairobi.