The (Wonderful) Unintended Consequences of Buying a Cow for an Orphanage
Our time in Kenya is coming to a close. We leave Wednesday morning to begin our trek home. So, our family was sitting in the living room last night, being warmed by the wood burning stove, talking about our time in Kenya - decompressing for a bit. How has this experience changed us? Made us grow in our relationships with Christ? How has it developed our character? Favorite experiences? Trials?
The conversation went to our experience buying Faith the Cow for the Beat the Drum Orphanage. This experience showed us that God does greater things than we could have imagined. Our thinking is so small.
You see, here are some of the sad, bad, scary things we experienced. We would question God during these times.
1. On our visit to the Beat the Drum Orphanage, we see that their cow is dying.
2. We are not farmers. We don't know how to find and buy a good cow. Will we get ripped off and buy a sick cow?
3. We thought we'd help buy a cow, but find out a good cow costs $2000! We don't have $2000.
4. We hate asking for money. Will we really put a request on Facebook to all of our friends to help us raise money to buy a cow?
5. Mason decided to sell chocolate chip cookies to the RVA kids, but he feels like the new kids. Will they accept him enough to buy cookies when he sits outside and tries to sell them?
This is how God worked in this situation.
1. The cow that died only produced two cup of milk a day. The one we bought produces 40 liters a day. The cow we bought will soon be pregnant and give birth to a heifer. The orphanage will soon have two great cows!
2. This cow can help the orphanage become self-sustaining. The orphans can drink plenty of milk, and they can still sell over half the milk produced. This can feed the cow indefinitely. The first cow died from lack of food because it didn't produce enough milk to have any to sell!
3. We don't know how to buy a cow, so we asked around. A Kenyan worker in the chemistry lab, Michael, says his brother-in-law knows all about cows and can take care of us. This ends up being Pastor Stephen. It just so happens that he is the son of our worker, Mary, who we have grown to love. I figure this out when I visit Stephen's house and see Mary. We find Stephen and his family to be people of high character. This family has become very dear to us.
4. Stephen has recently adopted several orphans. Selling the cow will help him build an addition on his house for these orphans. Wow, God, we can help two orphanages with one purchase!
He is selling us one of his cows who is healthy. He is also giving us a good deal on the cow. He even named this cow after his daughter, Faith.
5. We ask for money. God's people give faithfully and generously. A kindergarten class even collects enough to donate $100! These people get the satisfaction to know they are making a real difference here in Kenya. Two people give that we do not even know!
6. Mason sells $700 worth of cookies and is the single largest donor to this cause. He gains the respect of the upperclassmen at RVA. I use this story as an example to all of the RVA students when I preach in chapel that young people do not need to wait to serve God. God can use them now! There was a big applause for Mason.
7. They money all comes in for the project. We buy the cow. In addition, we buy several months worth of food for the orphanage cow.
8. We feel God urging us to help Pastor Stephen's family and help him get set up to adopt even more orphans. Pastor Stephen started a church in Mai Mahui where they are many street kids. He has a heart for them.
9. Some of our friends hear about Stephen's ministry and want to help. They give enough money to help his church buy new windows. We bought four windows. They were installed in about a week. Here is a picture of two of them. They need the windows because it is hot here and they worship God by singing and dancing for about 1.5 hours during a church service!
I had the privilege of preaching in Stephen's church yesterday. Amy's pedometer showed 7500 steps by the end of the service!
10. Our friends give enough money to help Stephen's family put in a bio-gas system. Gas is too expensive for them to buy. Wood is difficult to cook on, but they do. Wood is also expensive. It costs them about $50/month to buy the wood to cook on. A bio-gas system uses the cow dung to produce methane gas. They will be able to cook much easier. They can install gas lights to save on electricity.
Our good friend Mary lives in a little house on Stephen's property. They put this bio-gas system halfway between Mary's house and Stephen's house. Now, they will both be able to use it to cook! We find out this was a long-time dream of Mary's husband (Stephen's dad). He passed away about six months ago. God is taking care of the orphans AND the widows.
They've already hired workers to install the bio-gas system.
This huge hole will be filled with the blocks made into waterproof walls. Three pickup trucks full of dung will be put in the hole. A bucket or two of cow dung will be added every few days. Stephen's cows are more than up to the challenge!
11. Stephen's neighbors are all coming over asking about the big hole in the ground. They are amazed at the bio-gas technology idea. They all said if it works, they will put one in as well. This is really good news for this area. Deforestation is a big problem. The people are so poor, they keep cutting down the trees to have enough wood to cook their food. It's hard to blame them. But, if we can show them there is a way to end up saving money by not logging, then we're all for it!
I am really thankful that God led us to help by providing self-sustaining technologies and animals. We wanted to help in a way that kept giving and was not short term.
God is amazing. He took our weakness and showed His strength. He took my accusations about not caring for orphans by killing their cow and showed me he loved them and could take care of them better than I could have dreamed. He showed me that he can use the faith of a child (Mason's a young man really) to increase my faith, to take care of 24 HIV infected orphans with all the milk they can drink, help start a new orphanage, inspire kindergartners in the U.S. to care about orphans in Kenya, teach a community about bio-gas to help prevent deforestation, and open opportunities for us to share the gospel in a church in Kenya.
God really is good. He really does care. Trust Him. Step out on faith. See what He does!