“…and right over there is where my dad was killed!”
The privilege and ability to enter deep into the lives of the children we serve is one of the most significant and unique dynamics of the work of Olive Branch Ministries. Their stories of courage and survival are amazing and inspiring.
It was a hotter than normal day when I arrived at the home of Winnie, Kenneth, and Isaac; three of the children in our care. Curiously, the house itself was actually a bit bigger and little nicer than most of the homes in the village. Winnie greeted me with her beautiful smile and a big hug. She said “Pappa, let me show you around our home.” After touring the house, we went outside. There was a small building beside the house that was made up of several small rooms. As she led me from room to room she identified the use of each space. Pushing open the broken door of one very small and cluttered space she said “This was our storage room where we kept potatoes and maze flour.” The next room was where one of the farm hands used to live and another was an area for tool storage; however, there were no tools just an odd collection of junk. As we moved about, I was curious about two things. First, this home was more elaborate than typical African houses; and second, most everything she was describing was past tense.
As the tour continued, we came to the “kitchen,” a very small structure that was nothing more than four walls and a roof that enclosed the open fire pit where the food was prepared and cooked. Next was what we would call an outhouse; they simply refer to it as the “toilet”. Then came the “shower,” basically four walls and no roof, providing privacy for bathing which is typically a splash bath from a wash basin. As we were coming around the back of the house, there was a partial wall that was mostly broken down. Winnie casually pointed to the corner of the wall and said matter of factly “…and right over there is where my dad was killed.”
I took a couple of steps, stopped and said… “Winnie, what did you say?” She repeated the statement and then began to tell me the story. It seems that her dad had been a successful (by local standards) farmer and had developed a modestly expanding business that was able to provide for his family and even enabled him to help others in the community. In trying to help a neighbor, he had loaned him a sum of money to build a house. Over time the man refused to repay the loan. As Winnie’s dad began to insist and threatened to bring legal action, the man hired several “hit men.” One night, they broke down the door of the house, dragged the father out into the yard and proceeded to beat him to his death while the family looked on helplessly in total horror.
What happened next puts Winnie in my book of all time heroes. The next day the mother, fearing that the men would return to do the same to her, ran away, abandoning her children the day after they had witnessed the brutal death of their dad. For the next three years, Winnie, from the age of 12, had to fend for herself and became the only caregiver for her two brothers. It was during that time that the late Pastor Joseph met this little family living in unspeakable poverty and began to help as he could. For the past two years, it has been our great honor and privilege to be engaged in the lives of these three wonderful and courageous children, providing their education and much of their personal needs “give them a future and a hope!”
Olive Branch Ministries currently cares for 50 children, all of whom have their own story of courage and survival.
Will you please consider helping us to help them? Your one time or monthly gift to OBM is an investment that changes lives like Winnie’s and Kenneth’s and Isaac’s.
Travel Update… I am planning a return trip to Africa in early January. Please join me in praying for that trip. Hopefully, no riots and fires this time! I’ll send an overview soon.
Thanks for your continued support and encouragement. 2010 should be a big year because… the best is yet to come!
– Pastor Gary