Back to the Future at Shepherd Hood Ministries

There are rock stars in Kenya and some of the stars are like the ones we look at above our heads at night and wonder how they got there. One of those supernovas is Pastor Simon Muvengei. 

Or as we call him; The Miracle in Mwingi”. I first met Simon by God’s invitation in August of 2011. We barely spent a total of thirty minutes together but that introduction was truly divine and since that day Orchid and Simon’s youth ministry have been empowering teenage girls and boys with education, character building, jobs, healthcare, vocational training and a heavy dose of the Holy Spirit. Now; nine years later I returned to Mwingi with Orchid board member; John Briguglio, to see first hand what has been accomplished and what needs are the most pressing for the future. It was a trip to remember!

The first thing we had to do was get there, and navigate the washed out roads that connected all the remote villages where our kids were waiting to see us. If you don’t have a strong car, back and will in Mwingi….don’t even bother getting up in the morning. Each day started the same; Breakfast with Grace (Muvengei) and prayers for safety.

 

Al-Shabaab is active in Mwingi, and we knew that our safety was in Gods hands. Pastor Simon made certain we avoided the most risky of villages, but John and I were two Muzungu that were hard to miss. As Simon so pointedly stated as we arrived in Mwingi; Al-Shabab loves killing Christians and Americans. Our car was full of both.

We didn’t have time to worry about it either way, as once our day started there was to much planning en-route and a lot of mentoring when we arrived. On this trip we were accompanied by Martin; a young graduate of the University of Hope who was using all the gifts and skills God gave him to change Kenya for the better. I have never met a more positive young man and he was a walking talking inspiration to every person he encountered. I hope he runs for President of Kenya one day. Now the four of us were focusing our collective energy on the young people who’s hearts and minds Simon had captured by casting a net that included balls for bait. He knew that the kids he wanted to reach needed a reason to come and listen to the truth; and sports is one sure fire way to get a young Africans attention. So back in 2016 he launched a program where each of his 11 remote churches kickstarted a boys and girls volleyball and football squad. Then in 2019, he got all 400 kids together on one field for three days; to hear the Gospel, learn that they had a reason to be on the planet, instill character, get them off drugs and alcohol and match them up with each other in a playoff competition for trophies and bragging rights for the next 12 months. The words Great Success don’t even begin to tell the outcome.

 

It’s truly inconceivable unless you are there to imagine what life looks like for these kids. To begin with, the roads after it rains are gully’s that are almost unnavigable. You are absolutely going to get stuck or worse. The good news is that no one has a car out here so walking 5 miles to the closest school is much easier. There is no electricity or running water. To get the wet stuff you take your donkey down to the dry river bed, dig down about 3 feet with your wooden bowl and expose sandy mud to use for your water. You strain it as best you can until there is more water than sand in your Jerry can.

The song “be true to your school” by the Beach Boys came to mind every time we arrived at a new one. Some were better than others but in the states we just don’t understand what reality looks like in the rest of the world. Fortunately these kids appreciate the simple things. As Simon put it when we looked at one school with no windows or doors; “Hey, this is a good one, it has a roof!”.

Our goal was to connect with six teams and the schools and churches they attend. These were the champions and first runners up in the football and volleyball categories. We were there to deliver on a promise that these teams would all receive brand new balls to accompany the already precious trophies each was guarding until the 2020 games this spring and summer.

These were proud girls and boys who had worked hard to achieve an honor they never thought possible and we had the extraordinary opportunity to share this moment with them. And it wasn’t just the kids. Each group had leaders from the community who guided them on their quest and they shared in the pride of place.

We didn’t only go to speak and encourage. We went to listen and everyone had something to share. Mostly; “Thank You” but there were desires too. Uniforms, sneakers, and level playing fields all made the list. John, Simon and I responded with promises of plans that would be even better than the requests.

But we let them know that we would expect something from them in return. To start with; demonstrate that they could break the habit of chewing chat, or, if only a boys team existed, they would take the responsibility of building a girls team and training them, and come to church on Sundays, and level a field with hand tools instead of wasting the money on a governments bulldozer and use that donation for new uniforms. We knew this was a way of making them responsible for their own success and not for making the Muzungu more important than they were.

It was a pleasure committing to kids who got excited for something as simple as a pen. When we donated $65.00 on the spot for 217 pens, we got a photo a week later with every one of the kids holding their .30 pen. It puts things in a real perspective.

You can’t make this joy up. It’s contagious and heart breaking and full of hope all at once. But Orchid and Shepherd Hood have BIG PLANS. That is a story for our next post. So for now, we share the moments that awakened a new chapter in the ongoing effort to make miracle mountains out of ruts and rubble. I hope you’ll continue to be the wind that fills Orchids sails and the waters that quench the souls of these kids.

God Bless

Rich

 

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Jeremiah House forges ahead in spite of political unrest

The Jeremiah House is open for miracles and their 8 boys are thriving even with the challenging situation in Haiti. Berdy JeanMary; the centers director sent a sponsor update to assure everyone that the orphanage is functioning as usual thanks to the dedicated volunteers and staff in Haiti.

Berdy writes: “….our boys are safe and are being well taken care.  They have full bellies, a place where they are loved, they receive medical care when necessary, and they are learning about the love of Jesus Christ. All eight of the boys attended school last year and made wonderful improvements.  As you may remember, some of the boys had never been in school and did not know how to even write their name. By the end of the year all of the boys had made tremendous gains.  This was made possible not only by the teachers at their school, but also by the help given to them by their tutors who they met with after school. ….Although traditional schools are closed in Haiti due to the unrest here, we are still employing teachers at JHouse so that our boys can learn English, computer skills, and even musical instruments.  We want to provide a future for our boys, even when the current state of our country makes that difficult.”

Thanks to the amazing and growing list of Jeremiah Supporters this project is a testament to how God works through His people to make change and deliver His love. We at Orchid are happy we can play a small role in their success.

 

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PUSHING UP the KINGDOM

When it comes to sheer will, and confidence on achieving goals, no one can argue that Miranda Stacy Burcham has what it takes. Miranda was accomplishing miracles long before her connection to Orchid, but adding our vision to her heart was a match made in heaven. Miranda has been serving the forgotten for a long time and her many year association with the people of Haiti has been changing as many lives there for the better that she can.

When Miranda heard the story of the launch of the Jeremiah’s House from it’s founder; Berdy St. Mary, she reached out to her fitness fans and issued the challenge. In less than a week she and her devotees have raised well over $30,000.00 for the launch and donations are still pouring in. Over 600 new Orchids of Light have lined up and delivered!

They literally Pushed Up the foundation of this new mission from their hands and knees!!

Miranda and her disciples have accomplished what no other Orchid campaign has in it’s history and we raise up our hands in gratitude to them and to the Lord for this incredible start. When you partner with The Kingdom anything is possible and when Miranda makes the call, the Lord and His people respond.

 

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Orchid Donors brew up a storm of support

Orchids of Light sponsors stepped up an bloomed big for the August Micro Brew tour campaign and raised over $14,000.00 as a down payment for the land to build a new youth center in Mwingi, Kenya.

This Center is the dream of Pastor Simon Muvengei and his Shepherd Hood Ministry.  Orchids of Light was formed in part as a result of that meeting and officially adopted Shepherd Hood into our portfolio in 2012. Since then Orchid sponsors have helped shepherd over 500 young people back into school and connect with their own spiritual power. Orchid angels have provided the funding necessary to keep the operation on solid footing and have purchased over 200 goats tact as entrepreneurial tool sets children raise and make a small profit from. These primary school students sell the milk and make more goats to sell for food to raise enough money to pay their way through school. All goats are recycled back into an upcoming generation of youngsters once the original owners no longer need them for their education costs. Orchid has also distributed over 5000 adolescent girl’s hygiene products to eliminate the stigma associated with their monthly cycle. In Africa girls will drop out of school during this time of month if they aren’t protected.

Now Shepherd Hood and Orchid are focusing their combined energies on a projected $200,000.00 youth center that will be a self-sufficient beacon of hope to this region that serves over 7 million people. The center will provide Christian stewardship, youth leadership training, an internet portal to free software coding skill education, and volunteer housing to establish mentoring experiences from the west.

The fundraiser held Saturday, August 26Th, introduced fifty philanthropists to the Lancaster Micro-Brew business landscape and generated over $12,000.00 in donations.

It was a win-win for everyone involved including local businesses. The tour made stops at Lancaster, Wacker, Spring House, Mad Chef and Saint Boniface breweries and culminated the afternoon at The Bulls Head tavern in Lititz. Pastor Simon Muvengei was on hand from Kenya to meet the sponsors and the Orchid team. Special thanks go out to all the people who made this initial campaign such a fantastic success.

There is much more to accomplish but thanks to orchid’s of light like you we have broken ground on this life changing campaign.

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New Youth Center Planned at Shepherd Hood Ministries

 

It is still a dream but now there are Angels in the architecture for this Youth Center in Mwingi Kenya. Pastor Simon Muvengei and Orchid are committed to get the funding necessary to build a facility like the one pictured and deliver a much needed brick and mortar sanctuary for the youth of this region of Africa.

Shepherd Hood Ministries has been delivering aid and services to young men and women by sending staff on motorcycles into the bush and communities that need aid. Their commitment to transforming the lives of each and every young person they can reach is unequaled.

Through programs that include; girls hygiene, controlled substance counseling, Christian outreach, sports camps, Bible school, Goat raising, School rallies, and Community interaction the ministry has reached and saved hundreds of kids by getting them back on track and back into school.

Now Shepherd Hood has their sight on erecting a facility that will serve a community of seven million people. This center that will serve as a hub for young people all around the area and deliver training and mentoring that can not be provided remotely. Internet, a technical training portal, sports center and housing are all planned.

This amazing facility will be a testament to the hard work of the Shepherd Hood team and Orchid sponsors like you. It will be another affirmation that God’s Grace truly exists in the world and that love and the caring for humanity is alive and well in Orchid’s garden.

Please join with us and pray for it’s success and contribute if you can.

God Bless

The Orchid Team

 

 

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