Child sponsorship saved this seven year old girl from an arranged marriage.
The artist, Isabel Chavez, went on a mission trip to Kenya in 2017. This was one of her favorite moments from the trip. Isabel and a small group of Eastsiders had been visiting homes in the community, sharing the gospel. As they were introduced to this particular family, they came to understand that seven year old Atiir was betrothed to be married in exchange for food and goats. This is, unfortunately, culturally common in this part of the world…especially when drought and poverty plague the country. The long colorful beaded necklace signified the arrangement. Since she had not yet reached puberty, she would stay at home with her family until able to bear children. Then off to her husband she would go!
As they talked, the team quickly discovered that her grandmother and aunts would actually rather send Atiir to school than go through with the marriage. They had seen the positive influence of Missions of Hope International in their area: children educated, parents empowered, their community restored, lives transformed. They had just not seen any other way to support the family. They couldn’t afford to feed the family much less pay for school fees. A sweet couple from the team quickly offered to sponsor Atiir. Suddenly the group found themselves witnessing the long necklace being unravelled from around this girl’s neck — each strand broken signifying a break in cultural norms and doors of opportunity flung wide open for her. Her life has such a different trajectory with an education in her future. You too, could make a world of a difference in the life of a child like Atiir. To learn more about child sponsorship go to https://mohiafrica.org/sponsor/.
Remarkably, Isabel almost didn’t go on that trip. As a stay-at-home mom of two and a half-year-old twins, she wasn’t sure it was a good idea. She questioned why God would call her. Afterall she didn’t have a medical or construction background. But, she decided to listen to the prompting she was feeling, take a leap of faith and trust God to travel to Turkana, Kenya. She saw this confirmed when she was fully funded for her trip within just six weeks. Her beautiful hand-lettered coffee mugs had done the trick!
She saw God continue to use her throughout the mission trip. During her time in Turkana, she journaled and painted watercolors at the end of each day. This led to a children’s book, called Keep Calm and Carry On to Jesus that she wrote and illustrated. It’s actually been published and distributed in all of the MoHI schools.
Isabel used her creativity for God’s glory. And those same artistic hands that painted watercolors, also packed mud on walls to complete a home for a single mom in Turkana. Isn’t it amazing to see how obeying God led to a life changing experience? It can be scary but Isabel’s story reminds us to listen to God and let Him reveal his plans to us. Don’t be discouraged if you think you may not have anything to offer, because God has given you an ability to make an impact on someone else’s life. Anything is possible if you are willing to trust in God.
If you would like to know more about a church who makes things like this happen, you can find everything you need to know at, eastside.com/about. Eastside Christian Church is a place for everyone, wherever you are on your spiritual journey. Our vision is to pursue God, build community and unleash compassion.