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Delivering food, shelter, and hope to the poorest of the poor
On my recent visit to Meru, Kenya, I met Father Francis, a diocesan priest who has been called by God to rescue hundreds of orphans and street children. After spending only a few minutes with Fr. Francis, it was easy to see what made him successful. Behind a wide smile and gregarious personality, I discovered a man of incredible faith who trusted in Jesus Christ’s love to heal and redeem even those with the deepest wounds and the most troubled past.
More than 15 years ago, Fr. Francis found this calling when he met local street children who had come to his church to begging for food to satisfy their hunger pangs. He filled their empty stomachs, but he knew their problem was much deeper and would require more.
The children needed an education and to know God’s love. Responding to this need, he founded a children’s village, starting with seven local street kids.
“At first people were saying, ‘How are you going to do that?’ I told them, ‘With God, all things are possible.’”
In the years that followed, Fr. Francis’ ministry grew steadily into three separate homes: St. Francis Home for Boys, St. Clare Home for Girls, and St. Philomena Home for children infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. Today, more than 800 children receive nutritious food, an education, Catholic spiritual formation and a safe place to call home.
Rescued from the fate of wandering the dark and lonely streets, these orphans now know they are children of the Lord and their hearts are filled with new hope. Fr. Francis instills this truth in them daily through his educational philosophy of using the Bible as their main textbook.
“I try to train the children to study and do independent research,” he told me. “I use the Bible to teach them English. The Bible is their guide for life and helps them learn. I tell the children that it is the only book they need.”
Thanks to this Bible-based approach, children with heartbreaking pasts find hope and healing in the pages of Scripture. Instead of being survivors of the streets, they become thriving, successful individuals with dreams for the future. That’s the power of God’s love at work.
These children have literally walked down the valley of the shadow of death, but because of a kind priest and a loving Savior, their lives are being transformed. Fr. Francis has answered God’s call to care for orphans, and is making an eternal investment in a heavenly kingdom. Praise the Lord for his servant’s heart!