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Help Provide Food for the Children at St. Gerald’s

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction . . . .” (James 1:27) I have to say that this verse, from the letter of James in the New Testament, is filled with incredible depth and meaning — especially for those of us who spend our lives in ministry to the less fortunate. The author of the letter, James (who was one of the disciples of Jesus), speaks to the heart of what God desires of humanity: that we care for one another . . . especially for those who cannot care for themselves. And in the ancient world, orphans and widows were among the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. Unfortunately, in many African nations and elsewhere around the world, that is still the case today.

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10

Dear Mr. Doe,

No matter where you live, it seems that this past winter was an extremely rough one. Many of the regions across the country experienced record low temperatures. In addition to the bitter cold, winds howled and incredible amounts of snow fell. If you are like me, you couldn’t wait until the first day of spring. Yet, throughout the month of March and even well into April, it seemed like spring would never come. Even in late April, nearly 15 inches of snow fell in some places. The gloom of winter just didn’t seem to want to let up! But when I read the above passage from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, everything seemed to change. Let me explain.

Recently, I received a letter from Brother Julius Awino, a missionary who works in the community of Endarasha, in central Kenya in East Africa. Brother Julius is in charge of the St.Gerald Children’s Center. St. Gerald Children’s Center is in the Nyeri district, about 90 miles north of Kenya’s largest city, Nairobi.

The Center was created nearly 20 years ago as a shelter and feeding facility for the rapidly growing number of children whose parents had died due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since its founding, though, the Center has now become a place — not only for orphans, but for children who are “vulnerable” . . . those boys and girls who have no one to care for them, feed them, or protect them. The children who come to St. Gerald’s live there and receive an education there as well. For the missionaries who operate St. Gerald’s, though, the greatest challenge is not the children themselves, but finding enough food to feed the overwhelming number of orphans.

“We use the funds we raise to buy food for the children in the Center,”Brother Julius writes. “Good, nutritious food is critical for these boys and girls. When they have the food they need, the children perform better in the classroom and with their overall studies. Having good food is essential for the proper development — not only of their bodies — but their minds as well. Quite simply, they need food in order to learn.”

“Besides that, when the children have the food they need, their health improves. For the boys and girls who were born with HIV/AIDS (as babies they were infected because their birth-mother was infected) having good food, as well as nutritional supplements, enables the children to take the anti-retroviral drugs they need every day as prescribed by the doctors. These drugs help them stay alive!”

“In addition to providing food, some of the funds we raise help with other basic needs of the infected children . . . such as clothing and educational materials. There are also children who are still living on the streets who need our urgent attention as well. There is so much to do and so many children who need our help.”

In his letter, Brother Julius goes on to write that while the needs of the children vary — most of the funds the Brothers raise are used to purchase food staples, such as corn, beans and other vegetables. Without food, the children cannot live! That’s why I am writing this letter to you — because they need our help. I am hoping that we can raise at least $36,000 to provide food for the children at St. Gerald’s as well as support other programs that reach out to AIDS orphans throughout East Africa. I know it is a lot of money, but as Brother Julius’ letter testifies — without our help, sick children will go hungry!

My friend, as I shared with you at the beginning of my letter, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” And time and time again, you and Ihave seen this come true:when we reach out to those in need, God’s love shines through us and warms the very essence of who we are. Not only are the lives of hungry, suffering children changed, but the blessings that we receive are countless as well. Please, be as generous as possible. Without a doubt, God in turn will bless you and your loved ones!