Mercy Moment

A Smile During Difficult Times

The LCMS and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya are bringing hope to children experiencing trials.

For Migwa Stephen Ochieng, a joint program between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) made all the difference.

When Ochieng was a boy, his education nearly came to a premature end, despite the fact that he was one of the top students in the village. Ochieng’s father died and his mother was unable to pay the fees to send him back to school.

Young men from the ELCK’s Othoro Project 24 boarding facility walk to worship at the Lutheran congregation in Kisumu, Kenya.

The village chief heard about the family’s difficulties and looked for someone who could assist them. He found that help with the ELCK, and Ochieng was enrolled in 1001 Orphans, a joint program of the ELCK and the LCMS that provided support for education and food for children in need. As students graduated from the program, they became eligible to receive an ongoing stipend to pursue higher education.

Thanks to 1001 Orphans and generous donors around the Synod, Ochieng recently graduated from Kenya Medical Training College and passed his certification exam to become a registered nurse.

“I want to take this opportunity to … thank the LCMS for the help they have given me til now. I am a graduate because of LCMS. LCMS gave me hope when I was hopeless, LCMS made me smile when I was [shedding] tears. I am now a nurse courtesy of LCMS,” Ochieng wrote in an email to the LCMS field office in Nairobi, Kenya, after his graduation.

He also offered to volunteer with the LCMS and its Mercy Medical Teams “as a way of saying thanks to the Church and to everyone who made me [smile] during my difficult times in life.”

Although 1001 Orphans no longer exists, the work continues and has even expanded. The Synod’s Christ’s Care for Children: Kenya program now matches sponsors in the United States with children at the ELCK’s Project 24 boarding-school facilities, where children receive schooling, food, medical care and the Word of God in a residential setting.

Young women listen to a speaker at the ELCK’s Tumaini Project 24 site in Kisumu, Kenya.

The cost to sponsor a child is just $90 per month. Sponsors receive an initial packet of information on their child, as well as updates, photos and the ability to correspond with the child throughout the year.

There are currently five Project 24 sites throughout Kenya, and a sixth site is slated to open in July. The new site, Nyambiri, will be able to provide for 40 boys and 40 girls from the area.

“Not only do the children receive great care and an education, but more importantly they grow in their faith in God,” said Britt Odemba, an LCMS missionary in Kenya who works with Project 24. “It is wonderful to see how the local Lutheran church has answered the call to help the children within their congregations. It is a joy to see how the Body of Christ works together and assists their own.”

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