Category Archives: Faith

M’m! M’m! Monday 5/8/17

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10(NLT)

Container Problem

 I have a container problem!  It never fails! When I go to pick out a container for the left overs from dinner, I almost always come back with a dish that’s too big for the amount of food I have.  On top of that….I’ve usually picked up and put down three or four different sizes before deciding on the one that ultimately ends up being too big!  Nine times out of ten, I don’t have what it takes to fill the container I picked to do the job. 

You know? Sometimes I feel the same way about myself!  (Yes, I’m comparing my Rubbermaid and Tupperware to life, now!) Stay with me….There are times when I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to do something but I’m afraid I don’t have enough…enough wisdom, enough energy, enough courage, enough whatever to fill the position or to do the job and so I. Don’t. Do. It.  Ever been there?  

Just like digging in my container cupboard looking for the right fit, I sort through in my mind  sizing up all the other people who I think would be better able to fill the need. The problem is: no one has started that book study that I’ve felt compelled to start, the idea to provide a free lunch for those in need remains just that, an idea, and opening my house as a gathering place? A big dream waiting to be fulfilled. 

Here’s what I’m learning. It’s not about me! (I know, I know. You’ve heard this before.  You should know by now I’m a slow learner!) All throughout the Bible we find people who believe they aren’t at all suited to do what God asks them to do.  Some of them tell God He’s making a mistake, some tell Him to find someone else, and some even run in the opposite direction. Me? I sit in my chair and think about what God wants me to do.   God reassured those He chose that He’d be with them and would provide all they needed until they’d become a perfectly filled vessel for the job. 

“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.  We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3(NLV)

It’s the same for you and me.  We can be confident that if God is calling us to do something, He has chosen us because with Him we will be the right fit for the job.  We may have to step out of our comfort zone (talking to myself here). It may require more faith than we’re used to. It might just be plain scary! But, in the end when we open ourselves to God’s calling, trusting in Him to give us what we need; we may just find we are a match with what He’s prepared us to do…..just like the right lid for the perfect container!  Oh dear, don’t get me started on my problem finding the right lid……

Instead, let me share with you a delicious recipe where the bites are small and the flavor is big! A perfect combination to me! Hope it “fits” into your dinner menu soon! 

Steak Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. top sirloin steak
  • 1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbls. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbls. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients except steak in a Zip Lock Bag.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Cut steak into one inch pieces. Trim fat.
  • Drop steak in to bag and seal shut. Shake and squeeze gently to coat steak with marinade.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 24.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until skillet is very hot.
  • Remove steak pieces from bag using a slotted spoon and place them in hot skillet.
  • Throw marinade away.
  • Cook steak according to your desired temperature. Stir occasionally. Medium is approximately 3 minutes. (I like mine well so cooked them 5-6 minutes)
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.myseaofthought.com/2017/05/08/mm-mm-monday-5817/

 

Ezekiel’s Journey

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Pixabay

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya couldn’t happen without God.  She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows.  Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways when even she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us.  “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

Eziekiel’s Journey

Most of us cannot imagine living in the world that Ezekiel was living in during the post-election violence of 2007.  His whole country had erupted into tribal warfare, corruption was rampant, and no one could be trusted. At the time, Ezekiel’s parents were teaching their children the family business of preparing alcohol to sell to customers. It was a dangerous business, not one suited for children; but was the means of survival for them all.  Thankfully, Ezekiel’s parents also believed in the importance of school, so he had attended elementary classes and was excited to enter 7th grade with his friends, but… a brutal attack changed everything.

Ezekiel’s family lived in a mud and grass hut on land bordering another tribe.  It would be that tribe who would take everything from Ezekiel.  The tribal leaders decided they wanted the land the family owned and so in the dark of night, they surrounded the small home and set the roof on fire.  Ezekiel’s father was the first to confront the trespassers.  He was killed immediately.  His mother then ran from the home and Ezekiel watched in horror as she was dragged, screaming into the bush never to be seen again.  As the roof of the hut began to collapse, the children had no choice but to leave the “safety” of the hut, too.  Miraculously, the attacking tribesmen weren’t interested in the kids. With fear propelling them, they scattered into the pitch-black night.

Separated from what was left of his family and with no way to communicate with his brothers and sisters, Ezekiel decided to try and make it to his Uncle who lived on the family home place. It would be a long, hard journey.  Ezekiel was thirteen and his life had been violently ripped from him.  Getting to his Uncle was the only way he could see to start a new life and so he began to walk. He walked all day and hid himself along the road to sleep at night.  He walked and walked and walked some more all the while trying not to think about how hungry he was. Terrorized by the memories of what had happened to his family, exhausted, with no food, no money, he continued to put one foot in front of the other.  Ezekiel will tell you that he didn’t know Jesus at this time so he wasn’t praying, but hope still arrived in the form of a rumbling sound behind him.  He knew the approaching truck would take him into town.  In a split second, just as the truck passed by, Ezekiel leapt onto the back of the semi and held on for his very life!  Once on, he knew he couldn’t safely get off until the truck came to a stop; so there he was, a young boy, weak from hunger, clinging with all his might as the truck made its way over bumps and around curves in the small hope that he was on the final leg of his journey to a new life.When the truck finally arrived at its destination, Ezekiel literally fell off the back. He’d held on to the truck for so long he could hardly stand.  It had taken him two weeks to get to this point and he was exhausted, but from deep within, Ezekiel found his strength and finally made it to his Uncle’s home.

Ezekiel settled in and returned to school.  He was informed that he would have to repeat Grade 6 but he never gave up because he knew that education was important. Ezekiel moved on to High School.  He hadn’t been able to pay the fees but the teachers let him attend until he could get the money.  At the end of the second term Ezekiel still was unable to pay and so the school sent him home.

In the time Ezekiel had spent with his Uncle, he’d come to know and accept Jesus as his Savior.  As time passed and it looked like school wouldn’t be possible, Ezekiel’s Uncle reminded him not to worry, but rather to pray. And pray he did.  One evening Ezekiel’s Uncle went with friends to a wedding.  While traveling back and forth his Uncle learned of Living Hope High School and the help they provide for students who can’t afford an education.  Hearing this, Ezekiel’s prayers increased.  Waiting was hard but he knew his journey wasn’t over.  January turned into April and finally Ezekiel was asked to go to Living Hope for an interview. He soon received his admission letter and found himself a student at Living Hope High School. Ezekiel was dedicated to learning as much as he could both in his subjects and about the Bible, all the while thanking God for the miracle of continuing his education.

Ezekiel’s journey was difficult.  It was long.  It wasn’t the one he’d ever planned to take, and yet, he is right where he’s meant to be! He graduated from Living Hope High School and now is studying Dentistry at the University.  Ezekiel says he was lost, but God found him and step by step led him to his future. He now plans to use his skills as a dentist to give back to his community. More than that though, it is Ezekiel’s greatest hope to tell everyone he meets his story about God and all that He has done; inviting them (and now you) to join him on the miraculous journey that leads to everlasting life!

“So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:3-6 (NLT)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org

Stanley’s Dream

 

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya couldn’t happen without God.  She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows.  Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways when even she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us.  “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV) Pixabay

Stanley’s Dream

It’s unlikely that you or I could navigate the narrow, winding paths that lead through the bush-covered interior outside Bungoma to find the small, isolated house where Stanley’s story begins.  He was the first born of four children to proud parents who encouraged them in all they did. The family worked hard on their small farm to survive and while they were rich in love, there was very little money.

Stanley enjoyed school and excelled in his high school courses but as the time drew near for his final exam, he faced a cold, hard truth.  As much as his parents desired to help him, they just didn’t have the funds; so Stanley did the only thing he knew to do: he prayed.  He prayed fervently.  He prayed continually.  He prayed right up into the evening before the registration money was due and still he had no answer.  As the family sat down that night for supper something unusual happened.  They were startled by a knock at their door.  Much to Stanley’s surprise, and an answer to his prayer, there stood one of his teachers. This teacher recognized the potential in Stanley and told him that he would pay his school registration fees enabling him to finish high school and take his exam.  Stanley immediately began praising God and thanking his teacher.  Songs of rejoicing filled the tiny home.

As often happens in life, rejoicing turned to sorrow as Stanley experienced a crushing blow.  His father unexpectedly passed away.  Seeing an opportunity, Stanley’s uncle swooped in and offered to help the family by taking Stanley to live with him.  Stanley’s life would never be the same.  Outside the uncle’s kitchen was an old side shed that at times had been used to house cows and chickens.  It was small, dark, had a stench, and now was Stanley’s room.  He soon learned that he was expected to be his uncle’s house boy receiving no pay in return.  He worked all day: cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and caring for his small cousins.  The only food Stanley got each day were the few sips or nibbles he was able to sneak as he prepared the family’s meals.  Stanley was now a slave but he never stopped praying for the dream he held deep in his heart to somehow come true.

Days turned into weeks and weeks became years when one day while Stanley was doing chores he noticed a woman moving into the duplex next door to his uncle’s.  He soon learned that Marilyn was a teacher and administrator at her own school: Living Hope. They quickly became friends and he shared with Marilyn that he’d been with his uncle for six years and in that time he’d prayed every single day for God to provide a way for his dream to be realized.  Having never shared the words aloud with anyone before, they felt strange crossing his tongue as he confided in Marilyn that his dream was to be a teacher too. He revealed  that somehow he’d always known he was supposed to be a teacher even though he could see absolutely no way for it to happen.

Other than praying, Stanley had no idea what it would take to make his dream of teaching a reality; so Marilyn sent him on his bike to the small teaching college in town.  The trip home seemed to take much longer than the trip to the school as he now carried the heavy burden of knowing he’d never experience the joy of being a teacher.  Up until now, he had no idea what college would cost and it was just too expensive, especially for someone who had nothing!

But “nothing” didn’t describe what Stanley had because He. Had. God.  AND God had a plan! We’re promised God hears our prayers so when Stanley needed a miracle a teacher arrived on his doorstep. When Marilyn needed a place to live, she miraculously found an answer in the duplex next door to Stanley.  Now, Stanley needed a way to make his dream of being a teacher more than a dream and he was about to find his miraculous answer in Marilyn!

When Marilyn saw the look of defeat on Stanley’s face her heart was moved. It didn’t take her long to offer to pay his tuition for the first semester and buy all the supplies he’d need; but she told him that after that God would have to handle the rest. And handle it He did!

Stanley flourished at college but at the end of the semester, as expected, he was out of money and at the time so was Marilyn.  Prayers were lifted once again, and Marilyn’s sister stepped in when she realized how troubled Marilyn was about Stanley’s situation and her inability to continue to help him.  She provided for Stanley so that he could finish his two year program and receive his Associates Degree.  It was a bittersweet achievement as Stanley found himself in the exact spot he’d been in time and time again…holding on to the dream of being a teacher, having no money, and praying fervently for God to make a way.  Meanwhile, Marilyn was home in West Virginia traveling from church to church speaking about Living Hope High School.  While at Faith United Methodist Church, she felt compelled to tell Stanley’s story.  As church dismissed, coming up from the back of the church, a couple approached Marilyn.  They’d been so moved by Stanley’s story that they pledged to support him through his final two years of college.

Knowing his teacher, Marilyn, her sister, and the family from Faith Church were answers to his constant prayers, Stanley never took their gifts to him for granted.  He worked diligently to make his dream come true and graduated with his teaching certification!

Some would say that Marilyn’s moving next door to Stanley’s uncle was a coincidence.  Marilyn, Stanley, and now you, know differently.  God works out His plans for us in miraculous, unexpected ways.  They may not happen just as we imagine or on our time table, but He works them out for our best.  You see, Stanley’s story doesn’t end here….He is now the Head Administrator and Marilyn’s most trusted employee at Living Hope High School! God sent Marilyn to Stanley and she will tell you that Stanley is a Godsend to her. Neither could do what they do without the other. Now, I’d say that’s a dream come true!

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.

Murunga’s Miracles: The Secret Weapon

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya could not happen without God. She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows. Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways even when she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

Pixabay

Murunga’s Miracles:  The Secret Weapon

At times, Murunga still worried that he would wake up and the life he now knew would be nothing but a dream.  No longer would he be a graduate of Living Hope High School or a Hospitality Major in college. Thinking back to where he was just a few years ago to where he was now, felt almost too good to be true.

But here he was, on his detachment (internship) at the museum.  Murunga enjoyed the work and had so impressed the museum manager that he’d left Murunga in charge while he was away. Things were going smoothly until Murunga looked out the window.  What he saw sent chills down his spine and put fear in his heart.  FIRE! Smoke and flames rose from the grass down the hill from the museum and were headed his way.  Not knowing what to do, he picked up the phone and called the only person he knew he could depend on.

Marilyn listened to Murunga’s panicked voice on the other end of the phone line.  He quickly reported that he thought someone must have thrown a cigarette down and now the grass was ablaze.   She heard a click on the other end and Murunga was gone.

Not five minutes later Marilyn’s phone rang again.  The pitch of Murunga’s voice told her that the situation had worsened.  Words spilled rapidly as Murunga described what he saw out the museum window.  Not only had the fire grown but now the wind was whipping the flames in a path that led directly to him and the museum he’d grown to love. All he could think about were the ancient artifacts and precious pottery that would be lost, never to be replaced, if the fire reached the walls of the museum. Murunga needed a miracle and he needed it at that very moment!

Rushing outside, Marilyn found a large group of girls sitting together washing greens for supper.  She recounted all Murunga had told her.  They immediately put down the greens and with Marilyn, they began to pray together: some in English, some in Swahili, and still others in their own tongue.  They prayed fervently in unison, their voices becoming louder and louder with each word.

The ringing of Marilyn’s phone sent a hush through the group.  It was Murunga. In disbelief he announced that for no reason at all, the fire had died.  He couldn’t understand why the flames that had been furiously consuming the dry, brittle grasses had suddenly gone out.  His confusion didn’t last long however, as Marilyn explained that she knew why the fire had been extinquished; they had used a “secret weapon”…..prayer.

That day has significant importance for Murunga, Marilyn, and the students.  Not just because God provided the miracle of extinguishing the fire, but also because it was the first time the “secret weapon” had been used.  Oh, prayer is a regular part of the day on the Living Hope campus, but on this day there was nothing regular about that prayer!  Those Spirit filled words lifted to Heaven-when everyone was praying for the same thing, at the same time, and determined not to stop until something happened-changed everyone. They gained a new understanding that together, their prayers are powerful!

The Secret Weapon is now a vital part of life at Living Hope High School.  Murunga continues to learn much as he works in the once threatened museum. But the most important lesson he’s gained is the knowledge that God offers us great power in prayer; a power we don’t use often enough; a power that can put out a fire in a field and at the same time light one in the souls of those who accept it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org

Miracles of Living Hope: Murunga’s Faith

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya could not happen without God. She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows. Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways even when she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

Praise/ Pixabay

Murunga’s Faith

Murunga had come to Marilyn and Living Hope High School hoping for a new, promising future.  He was now a member of the first graduating class looking forward to attending college, but college takes money and money was something Murunga didn’t have.  That didn’t stop him from planning, however.  He had complete faith that God was going to work a miracle that would enable him to go on to school.

On the Sunday night before classes were to begin on Monday, Marilyn looked in on Murunga. She had given him a little money to buy new socks and under clothes. He had washed, ironed, and folded those and was singing as he packed them and his other clothes into his suitcase. The fact that he still needed over four hundred dollars….$476.00 to be exact…hadn’t chipped away at his rock solid faith.

Marilyn’s faith, on the other hand, was shaky.  She was worried that God was going to let Murunga down.  She considered anonymously paying the fees herself so God wouldn’t look bad to the young man. Marilyn just didn’t believe God would work it out at all. With a heavy heart she headed to the computer lab to catch up on her email.  There was a message from her sister, Helen; so she opened it and began reading.  Suddenly, she rose from her chair, went and woke one of the students telling him to wake all the others and gather in the computer lab in five minutes. The small, brick building quickly became jam packed with students, standing shoulder to shoulder inside, others crowding outside the door; all wondering why they were there.   Marilyn asked Murunga to sit down and read the email she’d received.  As he began reading he reported that someone had donated several pairs of tennis shoes to the school.  “That was nice.” Continuing, he read that a new sponsor had been found for a student in need. “Great news!” When he recounted the last of the email message, prayer and singing flooded the room!

As it turned out, Helen had attended Main Street United Methodist Church in Petersburg, WV that morning. She was not scheduled to speak during the service but, God had other plans..  Standing up, she made a plea for support for Murunga. The congregation graciously took up an offering and when the money had been counted, it was not the $476.00 he needed. No, it was $486.00!

Murunga, Marilyn, and the students continued to sing and dance for an hour; expressing overflowing joy that Murunga had received his miracle from God! Marilyn knew that she had been the “ye of little faith,” while Murunga’s faith had been unwavering.

The next morning before dawn, Murunga gathered up the bag he’d packed, no longer a high school student, he was now college bound.  The extra ten dollars raised at Main Street Church allowed him to purchase a bus ticket and even a rare bottle of water for the trip.  God knew exactly what Murunga needed; Murunga knew that God would find a way; Marilyn knew that the offering was a perfectly-timed miracle; and that Murunga’s great faith would serve as an example to her and to all who heard his story!

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 

1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.

Miracles of Living Hope: The Drug Deal

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma Kenya could not happen without God.  She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows.  Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways, even when she didn’t believe he would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

photo credit elab.emerson.edu

photo credit elab.emerson.edu

Murunga’s Story: The Drug Deal

Murunga had one dream: to go to High School.  He’d worked hard every year in primary school and graduated from 8th Grade with top honors.  Despite all he had accomplished; his family was not able to meet the costs for him to attend 9th grade.  His mother had passed away and his father had sold all their property to support his drinking habit.  Having families and problems of their own, his brothers were also unable to furnish the money he needed.

The yearning Murunga had to go to high school did not diminish.  He not only longed to attend; he knew he needed to attend to live the successful life he dreamed of. If money was what was standing between Murunga and school, then he would find a way to get the money.

With 8th grade graduation behind him and the goal of attending high school in front of him, Murunga became a “Boda Boda” ….a motorcycle taxi driver. Because he kept his bike clean and in good shape and he never ran out of gas, Murunga built a regular customer base.  He worked long hours for little pay.  On the rare occasion that he was given a little extra money for the ride, he bought one thing he knew he’d need for school:  a pencil, a notebook, a small can of shoe polish. Each precious item was put in his “faith box” hidden beneath his bed.

Despite Murunga’s hard work and belief that he would one day be a high school student, two years passed. Discouragement began to set in and waiting became almost more than he could bear. One day, a man from the village approached Murunga and offered him the job of being the transporter in a drug deal.  It sounded easy.  All he had to do was carry a box of drugs, worth more money than Murunga could imagine, from point A to point B. He knew it was wrong, but it was the only way he could see to get the money he needed for school.  He decided to take the risk and do it.

In preparation for the transport, he drove his motorcycle down to the filling station.  As he gassed up, Pastor Martin, a teacher at Living Hope High School, pulled in to the pump right next to Murunga.  Both were from the same area so Pastor Martin was well aware of Murunga’s family situation.  He struck up a conversation with him and as they talked, Pastor Martin told Murunga about Living Hope and that there was one spot left open in the Freshman class. The words rang in Murunga’s ears and his chest felt tight.  After what seemed like an eternity to Murunga, Pastor Martin said the words he longed to hear. He asked him if he’d be interested in filling that spot and become a Freshman at Living Hope High School. Without realizing it, Murunga had been holding his breath.  As air escaped between his lips, he remembered that the drug deal was to take place in less than two hours.  Once the delivery was completed, he’d be paid a large sum of money: more than he could have ever hoped for!

The promise of money did not compare with the desire Murunga had to attend high school.  He’d waited so long for this moment to come and so, without hesitation, he accepted.  Before they headed off to Living Hope, Murunga had one stop to make.  Pastor Martin followed him home.

Yes, God works in strange ways.  Murunga would have risked everything, even his life, had he completed the drug deal. He hadn’t seen any other way until in the eleventh hour God stepped in and saved him. The waiting was over. With hands shaking in excitement, he pulled the cardboard box from under his bed. For two years he’d faithfully collected supplies he knew he’d someday use at school. Once the cargo was loaded on the back of Murunga’s motorcycle, the two, teacher and student, began the journey down the road to a brighter future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254

God Will Provide

 

Agape Science Lab nearing completion.

Agape Science Lab nearing completion.

This is the fifth in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

“And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)

Marilyn and her students settled into a daily routine at the “cave school”. A breakfast of milk tea and a boiled egg or porridge began their morning.  Classes were held throughout the day with a short break for lunch. In the evening traditional meals of thick grits and greens cooked in a spicy sauce, beans and rice, or corn and beans were prepared for dinner. Each meal was cooked outside as there was no room for an inside kitchen.  Outside, there was no space for the children to safely play a game of soccer or even run off some extra teenage energy. It was obvious they already needed more space. Marilyn had also recently discovered that for a school to be recognized by the Kenyan government it had to have grades 9-12 with at least twenty students per grade. She knew without a doubt that this was her calling and so the prayers to find a larger, permanent place for her school began.

God answered Marilyn’s prayers in 2013 when she chose an eight acre property that included a long hut similar to their “mud cave” and a small mud house.  Neither were much to look at but that didn’t stop Marilyn from seeing the beauty and potential there. It would take a huge amount of work and they would need vision and help…..lots of help, and constant prayer!

It took time to jump through the governmental hoops AND most of the money Marilyn had left in her savings to purchase the land; but it now belonged to them! Reaching out to the surrounding villages, Marilyn was able to find the twenty freshman she also needed.  What started as a seed of an idea, had been planted and nurtured,  and now Living Hope had become an official Kenyan High School. In the years leading up to this moment God had provided everything she’d needed just as He’d told her that fateful day back in her kitchen and she was already seeing His continued provision as she took this next step in her journey.

It was a challenge in the beginning. There wasn’t enough building space in either place so the 45 students traveled between their rented mud classroom and the dormitories on the new property.  The journey was a precarious one as they hiked the mile and a half each way and like tightrope walkers, had to balance on a single log that lay across the rushing river that separated the two locations. That wasn’t all.  Acutely aware of her dwindling funds and determined her kids would not “go to bed hungry”, Marilyn decided  she needed to reach out to her sisters for help. Through their commitment and dedicated work God began providing sponsors for the students, salaries for staff, and donations for needed furniture and supplies. Hope was alive and well!

Living Hope High School has thrived since the days of the first rudimentary buildings.  The school still receives no funding except through the generosity of sponsorships and donations  The property today is close to ten acres, has five classroom buildings, an assembly hall, a computer lab, kitchen, eight dormitory cottages, and a science lab is under construction. Each building is constructed of bricks, hand- made by the students.  A deep well was dug to provide running water and electricity has been connected to the computer lab, kitchen, and office.  The students tend a 2 acre garden, take care of milk cows and chickens, and play on their own soccer field.  This past year the students at Living Hope High School earned the highest test scores out of the 291 schools in their district! The 13 teachers and all the students work very hard and take nothing for granted. It isn’t always easy; the budget, sharing textbooks, the ongoing battle against Malaria and Typhoid,  the unpredictable weather, and  the political climate all pose challenges for Marilyn and the school;  but without hesitation, she will tell you of the miraculous God who through the generosity of others, provides just what is needed to help one teacher, who answered His call,  share an abundance of “Living Hope” with others.

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

 

As we continue Marilyn’s story you’ll hear more God designed, miraculous events that have happened to her, the students,  and the school since its beginning. For more information on Living Hope High School go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.

A Light in the Dark ~ A Living Hope Story

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:15 (NLT) Pixabay

This is the fourth in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

When Marilyn returned to her storage building classroom she found things much as she had left them. The teacher she’d hired before she left and her freshman class welcomed her back. She embraced her role of teacher again right away. They spent long days together in the dark shed using every moment of daylight they could for learning.  The students flourished academically and they developed a respect and admiration for Marilyn.

Because the students and Marilyn ate and slept at Rehema Orphanage, she encountered the Director regularly.  He was an influential man who flaunted his position, wearing suits while those around him wore meager clothing. He owned a car while others walked for miles. His quarters were equipped with running water while the children in his care had to haul theirs.  Marilyn suspected he’d been the one to take the money she’d donated instead of using it for firewood. As time passed, the Director couldn’t hide his jealousy of Marilyn’s success.  He also made it clear that he knew about her bank account and he coveted that money.  The situation became so unbearable she knew she had to find a way out!

When Marilyn heard of an empty building down the road, she planned to leave with the kids in the dark of  night to find it.  Once again, God had a better plan!  “Unexpectedly,” the Director was called away from the orphanage in the middle of the day.  Taking advantage of his absence, Marilyn packed everything she could and with her partner teacher, led their 25 students away from the only home they’d ever known. In the light of the afternoon sun the students and teachers walked four miles until they came upon a long, abandoned, mud building. Peering through one of the many doors that lined the hut, Marilyn discovered it was much like looking into a cave.  The inside was dark and the air was damp.  There were no windows, no electricity, no bathroom, no water of any kind, dirt floors, with small spears of light piercing the darkness through holes in the old, rusty metal roof. What was she going to do?  A kind looking gentleman and a gruff looking, wild-haired woman approached the worried teachers and their exhausted students. After some negotiation, the old man and his wife agreed to rent the dilapidated building to Marilyn at a reasonable price. Unpacking began and soon the two rooms on each end of the building were designated as the dormitory rooms, boys on one end, girls on the other. The two middle rooms became classrooms leaving only a small space for each teacher.  School was back in session.

All was not smooth sailing, however.  Marilyn was on her own in an unfamiliar place, conditions were primitive, and she was now a teacher/mother to 25 teenagers. She was also receiving threatening messages from the Director she’d left behind.  He found subtle ways to instill fear into the students and teachers.  He attacked her confidence and caused her to doubt her ability.  Finally, when he went as far as sending one of his workers to lie in wait for the opportunity to run Marilyn off the road; she’d had enough!  She rallied the students and together they began to pray as they never had before, asking God to put the “devil” behind them! Those dark days soon faded as their prayers were answered and the threats stopped. The challenges however, kept right on coming. Marilyn was quickly learning that starting a school literally from the dirt up entailed much more than just buying books.  Basic things like pots and pans, mattresses, food, and kerosene lamps needed to bring light to their dark rooms, were just the beginning. Her dwindling savings account was a reminder of the enormity of this undertaking.  On top of that, the landlord was unable to make the needed improvements so Marilyn found herself building a latrine, patching holes, AND teaching the students!  It soon became clear, that if she was truly going to establish a school she had to have more space! Marilyn didn’t know how she’d find her way; but God had been her light in the dark many times before and she had faith He’d show her the way this time, too.

~copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma Kenya

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

 

His Perfect Plan

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This is the third in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for him.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Marilyn knew that her answer to God’s call was back in Kenya, yet here she was on the other side of the world in Tennessee. Summer had ended and responsibilities forced her return.Her job at school, her house, her truck, and her beloved dog, Jesse, all things she was grateful for, had drawn her away from the children she loved and the make-shift high school she’d planted and cultivated.

Although others were skeptical about the voice Marilyn had heard in her kitchen, she didn’t waver in her conviction that God had spoken to her.She didn’t pretend to understand why He had chosen her or how He was going to use her; but she knew without a doubt that somehow He would be sending her back to Kenya.

As teachers often do, Marilyn began preparing in advance, both mentally and educationally for the new school year. A few days into her preparations she received an unexpected visit from the Superintendent of schools. Sitting in the same chair she’d been sitting in when she’d heard God’s call, she now listened to another voice; this time telling her that because of federal cutbacks there were no financial means to continue the Behavior Disorder Program Marilyn had been in charge of.The news didn’t stop there though.Marilyn was also the lowest on the seniority list and so not only was her program being terminated, so was she. A sense of panic began to take hold. She had house and truck payments to make! So, without much of a plan Marilyn embarked on a frantic job search.

Despite her best efforts, Marilyn’s job hunt came up empty. The only option now was to try to sell her house so she’d have a little money to live on until she knew what to do next. Not wanting to put off the inevitable, Marilyn began painting every room in her little house and laying down new flooring. Boxes began stacking up as she started packing her belongings. The improvements on the inside being almost finished, Marilyn headed out to her flower beds where she’d so often found respite. Weeding, working the soil, and planting colorful flowers brought a much needed peace to her soul. It also caught the attention of one of her friends who inquired about what was going on. Marilyn told her the whole story and before she had barely gotten the last word out, her friend excitedly exclaimed that she was looking for a new home and that Marilyn’s would be just perfect!

While the paperwork for the sale of her house progressed, Marilyn knew she couldn’t afford to keep her truck. She’d need something smaller, older, and more economical if she was going to get by on a tight budget. Soon after the “For Sale” sign was placed in the window, Marilyn was placing the keys into the hand of its new owner. No job, no house, no truck. It was just her and her faithful companion. Feeling restless, she called Jesse to follow her outside. She needed fresh air to clear her thoughts. Marilyn threw the frisbee. Jesse leaped into the air catching the disc before it hit the ground and returned it to Marilyn. The two continued this familiar game until suddenly Jesse jumped up but missed the frisbee and fell to the ground. He lay motionless cradled in Marilyn’s arms. Oh, how she loved this dog! He’d always been there for her even when people hadn’t. He’d listened to her, comforted her, accepted her. Now here they were sprawled in the grass: Jesse, unable to move physically and Marilyn, unable to move emotionally. Four days later, Jesse died.

Marilyn sat in her chair at the table straining to hear the voice that had once filled her kitchen. Somehow in the silence His message was clear. She’d lost her job and then she’d found a buyer for her house, sold her truck, and lost her precious dog all within one week. She heard Him speaking to her as only He could… through His perfect plan. He’d called her for His good purpose; the children in Kenya. What had once drawn her away was now gone. She would return to Kenya as she knew she would but, what would His plan be once she arrived?

Copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

Little Faith ~ Big God

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“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.  Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid”  You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves and suddenly there was a great calm.  The disciples were amazed.  “Who is this man?” they asked.  “Even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27 (NLT)

“You have so little faith!”  Oh boy, am I in that same boat with the disciples! I don’t know about you but I do much better when life is smooth sailing. So often when the deluge drenches my soul and the strong winds begin to batter my heart, I grasp at the air and quickly begin to sink.  Thrashing in the waters of uncertainty, I’m pulled under by fear, doubt, worry, and shame…..I feel like I’m drowning because I have a little faith in a Big God.

It’s funny to me that in this world where bigger is better…..super-sized meals, houses the size of castles, lottery jackpots, stock portfolios….you get the idea….here, where we crave big, we so often overlook the greatness of God.  I overlook the greatness of God! Like the disciples, in times of trouble I forget what He has done for me in the past and instead of turning to Him, I flail my arms, gasp for breath, and shout “why?”. “Why now?” “Why him?” “Why not?” I focus on my big problems and not on our Big God.

Just how big is our God?

“Have you not heard.? Have you never understood?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT)

 It comes back once again to trust.  Trust that our God is bigger than we can comprehend. He’s big enough to calm our storms.  Big enough to bring us peace in the midst of our storms.  Big enough to give us new strength to endure our storms. It isn’t easy keeping our heads above water when the waves are breaking over us, but I’m learning that it is in these times our little faith begins to grow bigger and with a bigger faith comes a better understanding  that we can “soar like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint”, and yes…… even swim through the turbulent waters, not on our own but with our Big God, the one, true Life Preserver.

Linking up with #livefreeThursday at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com again today.  The prompt is “how big is our God”.