This is the second 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.
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” John 10:27
Still in awe of hearing God’s voice fill her tiny kitchen, the words echoed over and over as if they were a recording stuck on repeat; “They went to bed hungry”, “Go”, and “I will provide”. Marilyn still wasn’t sure what they meant. At the close of the school year, thinking Uganda was where God would “provide” and wanted her to “go”, Marilyn pursued a return trip. Much to her surprise, God had other plans! At that very time Uganda was in the midst of intense violence. Rotary International wasn't about to put Marilyn into the middle of it. They did however, offer to send her to a more peaceful area; Bungoma, Kenya. Without hesitation, off she went once again, seeds in tow, to plant gardens and tend souls.
Once in Kenya, Marilyn and other volunteers worked together to create community gardens where once there were only hard plots of ground. As the small sprouts grew from the now fertile soil a longing grew in Marilyn. Her teacher’s heart was restless. As Rehema Orphanage was nearby, she went in search of fertile minds. It didn’t take Marilyn long to know that things weren’t right at the orphanage. The small shelters housing the children leaked, they lacked basic supplies, and she was angered to find that the wood she’d just purchased was gone but hadn’t been used to provide heat for the children. The conditions weighed on Marilyn until she realized that just as God had told her months before…these children WERE “going to bed hungry”. She knew this was where God was calling her.
As the summer wore on Marilyn learned that there were twenty-five eighth graders who had lived at Rehema their entire lives and were about to be put out on the streets, alone, with no skills to help them survive. She agonized, lying awake at night trying to come up with a plan. She couldn’t stand by and watch as these children were discarded; and everything she knew about the life of Jesus convinced her that she had to do something.
Finding an old shed on the orphanage property, Marilyn approached the Director with an idea. She’d prayed he would agree and reluctantly he allowed the students to stay. She quickly began cleaning out the dark, dirty lean-to. It would no longer house unwanted items but instead become a high school classroom for students who were now unwanted themselves. Marilyn had no doubt she had the skills to teach these students, after all it was what she’d been doing year after year. So with a mud floor, no desks, two boxes of chalk, and four books; school was called into session. As the time soon came to return home, Marilyn reluctantly hired another teacher to fill her place.
Flying home felt wrong; like swimming against the current. Questions swirled in Marilyn’s head. She knew without a doubt that Rehema was where she was meant to be but she had responsibilities: a job, a house, a truck, and a beloved dog. She couldn’t leave those things behind. Or could she? The turmoil quieted and a peace enveloped Marilyn. She knew that the kind of call she’d received from God was a call that demands a response. Mary and Joseph recognized it. The disciples recognized it. Marilyn recognized it too. She would answer the call and follow Him. Where He would lead her? She had no idea.