Kenya: Beauty For Ashes, a Story of Real Change

In May 2011, a new day dawned for the believers in Mt. Elgon, Kenya. Through the efforts of Rev. Ronald Chenimo of Mt. Elgon and Dr. Byrum Makokha, national leader of the Church of God in Kenya, Children of Promise became a bright light in what had been a very dark place.

The Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) formed in 2005 to resist the Kenyan government attempts to evict squatters in the Chebyuk area of Mt. Elgon district (western Kenya). Since 2006, the SLDF has brutally killed and maimed the people of Mt. Elgon. In 2008, the Kenyan military moved in to stop the atrocities. The situation became worse as the military added to the horrors.

The Western Kenya Human Rights Watch (WKHRW) called for an end to the murder, torture and rape of civilians in 2008, citing international laws for the treatment of humanity outline in the Geneva conventions of 1949 and 1977. The conflict ended but the wounds of the atrocity have left deep marks on the people.

Children of Promise (COP) became the first humanitarian organization to begin aiding the children, to bring Hope. The ministry is based in Cheptais, Mt. Elgon, under the direction of Rev. Chenimo, a graduate of Kima International School of Theology in Kisumu, Kenya. Since its opening, Children of Promise sponsors have helped 95 Church of God children with food provisions, school fees and necessities, medical care and spiritual nourishment. Several children have been treated for typhoid more than once in the short history of the ministry.

Another healing step took place in 2014 when Rev. Rob Mifflin, a hospice chaplain from Anderson, IN, traveled to Mt. Elgon with Dr. Paul Maxfield, Executive Director, to lead pastors and COP leaders in grief counseling training.
“Real Change” is not only the theme for the 2017 Children of Promise Sunday events this year but it describes the latest news coming out of Mt. Elgon. Three young ladies have completed high school and been rewarded for their academic efforts in the process.

Unifall Maghas, daughter of Ronald and Elizabeth Maghas, has won direct entry to university on a full scholarship awarded by the Kenyan government for a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Medicine at university. University officials said Unifall won the scholarship due to her high performance in science and languages. Because of Edna Banks Baxter from Lincolnville, SC, from 2011 – 2015 and, now, Jim & Heidi Nettles of Edmonds, WA, Unifall was blessed with sponsorship. She shared her gratitude for sponsorship when interviewed by Paul Maxfield in 2016.

Lovinia Chemtai Heman, daughter of Samuel Wgetwo and Magaret Chepkuiemoi, has won direct entry to college in the diploma program. In 2016, she reported to Paul Maxfield that she wants to be an accountant and a pastor. Lovina said, “My parents were unable to give me an education. God is blessing me and giving me a good life because of sponsorship.” Breiel Boulevard Church of God Choir from Middletown, OH, has been Lovinia’s sponsor. The cost of college will be Lovinia’s responsibility but she was awarded points that will help her achieve the diploma, virtually guaranteeing her a well-paying job upon completion.

Abigail Chemtai, daughter of Isaac and Alice Barechi, has won direct entry to college to earn a college certificate. While the cost of her education will be her responsibility, she was awarded points that will help her achieve her certificate, increasing her employability. Abigail would like to become a lawyer who represents children. Her sponsorship was possible because Virginia Sides of Anderson, IN, saw the value in providing her with the opportunity to attend high school through sponsorship.

These young ladies, Unifall, Lovina and Abigail, forever will be great witnesses in their village of God’s Word from Isaiah 61:3: “and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

Real Change. Really. Sponsorship works. Each of these young ladies as well as countless others finishing school will soon enjoy the benefits of all their hard work. Their futures hold the opportunities they will have to help lift their families out of the paralyzing poverty they live in, and they will be able to use their education, skills and talents to change the future for their churches and their people.

It is with the deepest gratitude, that this ministry thanks every Sponsor, Donor and Church for the sacrifices made daily to extend the hand of compassion to God’s children the world over.