Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Lord Saves Those Who Have Lost All Hope



“The Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their cries, but He opposes those who do evil, so that when they die, they are soon forgotten. The righteous call to the Lord, and he listens; he rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.”  Psalm 34:15-18
We have three months left in the States before we return to Kenya. We have many stories we have not yet told and we would like to share some of these stories in the following three months.  Betty is one who had nearly lost hope. 
I, Julia, am happy to get to share Betty Chepngeno’s testimony with you. She is a dear friend and sister in Christ to me. Back in 2005 my mom met her mother, Anna, in the Bible study Mom had started. Betty, as the fifth child of seven, was living with her mom and three siblings in Silibwet, a town 15 minutes away from Tenwek, in a part of town known as “Satan’s Den”, because of the alcohol, prostitution, and fighting there. Betty had grown up in this rough area with her unsaved mom. Her mom had just come to know the Lord when Tabitha ministry started in 2005. After each week’s Bible study, Anna would share the Bible lesson with Betty and her younger siblings. Betty was young enough when Anna came to Christ to still be moldable, and she loved learning verses with her mom.  Since Anna was illiterate, Betty would read the Bible to the family.
The first Christmas we knew Anna, we invited her and her children and grandchildren over for a meal, the Christmas drama, Christmas crafts and games. We have continued this tradition every year.
Unfortunately, Anna became very sick with AIDS while we were on our last Home Assignment in 2008-09. AIDS can sit quietly in the body for many years before showing up with symptoms, and this was her time.  She began on a treatment plan but was never very regular.  Sadly, Anna believed a local prophet who told her to just have faith, and quit taking her medications.
Anna, Betty’s mom, died in August 2010. Betty ran from home when her mom was dying, and got involved in loose living and drugs. She had been top of her 8th grade class but left school when she left home. We were glad that even though she had run away, she still came to our house for the 2010 Christmas.
Betty’s niece, her older sister’s daughter, died from AIDs in February 2011. Betty and her siblings were at my house sitting around our table as they made arrangements for the funeral. When I came into the room from the back of our house where I had been studying for school, I was crushed, seeing the despair and pain on the faces of Betty and her siblings. That picture is etched into my memory.
I didn’t see Betty for the next two years and the next time was another sad occasion. She came to see my mom after her aunt died in childbirth.  This aunt, Joyce, had been a Christian and had been trying to help keep Anna’s family together after Anna had died. Now she was gone, too. Joyce’s newborn had been brought to the nursery where I volunteered, and I helped care for him for a few weeks until the family sorted out who would take him.  That Christmas party at our house (2012) most of Anna’s family came as well as close relatives. They were all grieving Joyce’s death.

Joyce's new born son
Anna's children and her mom at our house for Christmas in 2012


A few days later, when Betty stopped by to get cooking supplies to make a Christmas meal, I gave her a bracelet explaining the Christmas story, and Salavation. After our Christmas celebration, and this conversation, Betty decided to follow Christ seriously. For several months Peris and Mom met regularly with her to study the Bible and help her grow in Christ. She is now the strong one in the family and is trying to help her unstable older siblings who are in and out of jail, and trying to help her unsaved younger brother and sister.
On July 14, 2013, I bid Betty good bye as I was about to leave to go to the States for college. We had good closure and prayer. I also asked her for her prayer requests.  Although she was 5-6 months pregnant, she did not tell us, because miscarriages and infant mortality are so high in Kenya.

Saying good bye

Previously, in 2012, she had had an abortion. This time she kept the baby, and gave birth to a healthy son shortly before she turned 19 in November. Her son lived for several weeks but suddenly stopped breathing and died the first week of December.
Since I moved to the States, Betty and I have been mailing letters back and forth. Here is part of her letter to me after her son passed away.
“Unfortunately, I am sorry to inform you that I lost my son. I thought I had lost everything. I did not only see myself as a loser but also as nothing before the presence of God and even wondered if God existed. But I guess I was wrong in my judgment. After the incident, I found it was difficult for me to accept the situation that I was in. The pain was unbearable but little did I know; God is the one who gives us children and He only takes them away. I thought at length and decided to revisit the letter which you wrote for me in November. I managed to go through the verses which you had put down for me and I must admit that Psalms 34:15-18 became a blessing and a source of inspiration to me: “The Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their cries, but He opposes those who do evil, so that when they die, they are soon forgotten. The righteous call to the Lord, and he listens; he rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.””
-                      Please pray for strength and comfort for Betty as she continues with life and grieves the loss of her child.
-                      Please pray that God will guide and instruct her in the way she should walk. Pray that she will study God’s Word and grow in Him.
-                      Please pray for her siblings Kenneth, Lillian, Karen, Collins, Amos and Chepkoech to become saved and follow Christ with their whole hearts.