“Ministering To Our Father’s Children” is a series of articles compiling selected journal excerpts of Brother Christensen, who has travelled to many parts of the world providing charitable service to the poorest of our Heavenly Father's children, many living under the most severe of conditions. Experiences he describes [without editing] have been organized into collections that demonstrate Christ-like attributes or qualities shown by these wonderful people.
Matthew 25:40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye havedone it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Moroni 7:47: But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Over the past eight years, I have travelled the world, seeking out children who have been orphaned by disaster, disease, violence or poverty. This endeavour has taken me to Haiti, the Philippines, Guyana, Japan and many parts of Africa.
Although born and raised in Canada, I have felt a need to help my young brothers and sisters wherever they might be. I have sought out those who could not help themselves and provided the blessings my Father has given me with the charge to, 'Feed my sheep'. These accounts are some of the many wonderful experiences I had through this work in Africa.
I believe we all want to help our brothers and sisters but often we do not know how to proceed, or we want to have all our affairs in order before venturing out. I have learned through this work that the way becomes clear only as I commence the work and rely on the Lord to direct my path. As we become dependent on the Lord, we are protected, guided and blessed with all we need to accomplish the task before us.
As we embark on serving our fellowman, things come into focus and we begin to understand the things that are most important. Problems that have been holding us back seem to dissipate and we find joy in working with a purpose and blessing the lives of our Heavenly Father's precious children.
Journal Entry: FOUR TO A BED
Almost all the orphanages we sustain suffer from over-crowding. Today we visited one such home that had 68 children. When I only saw 15 beds, I asked how they managed? “We place four children in every bed and the rest sleep on the floor” That may seem harsh, but the reality is that the alternative is sleeping on the street. Many of our homes have a minimum of three children sleeping in each bed. In the slum of Mathare, we sustain an orphanage that cares for 194 children. She has four bedrooms 20 x24 feet. She beds 68 girls in one, 60 in another, 50 in a third and 16 in the fourth. We are working to improve that situation. One of our first objectives when we are involved in a children’s home is to bring it to a point where each child has his own bed. We do this by converting unused storage space or acquiring three-storey bunk beds.
In Africa, one of the greatest struggles is obtaining water. Periods of drought will destroy crops and kill livestock. Clean drinking water is very difficult to obtain in remote areas. People will often draw their water from creeks whose water is absolutely brown with silt. The hauling of water is a daily chore for a vast part of the population.
One day we were travelling in eastern Kenya and we visited a local school. As we walked through the playground, we saw dozens of pop bottles, jars and small plastic containers each filled with about a cup of water. When I enquired about the collection, I was informed that the school had no water so each child had to bring a cup of water with them each morning for admittance into the school. These children would often have to walk great distances to obtain that needed water.
As we worked in the slum of Kibera, we came across a small children’s centre that was trying to help care for the street children by giving them a basic education. Their problem was that the children were always hungry and would spend their time begging for food, instead of coming to school. There were 23 children in this small program. Seeing a pressing need, we determined to build them a feeding centre and supply them with the food they would need to nurture the children. I enlisted the help of friends in Canada; we loaded up all the needed materials in a container and headed for Kenya. We dismantled the tin shacks they were using for shelter and constructed a new facility. It had a dining hall, kitchen and store room. We had sufficient material, so we also built a two-room school building.
In two weeks, we had the project complete and we invited the children for breakfast. For many of the children, it was the first time they had ever sat at a table for a meal. There was such joy on their faces. Attendance at the centre has gone from 23 to over 100 and the children are enjoying the chance they now have to go to school. So many orphans don’t get the chance to go to school. When an orphan finds a family that will let them sleep in their shack, they are often obligated to go and beg for food or collect firewood throughout the day as payment for the spot on the ground they get to sleep. These are the children we seek out to help.
Journal Entry: THE SMELL OF THE SLUM
Many of the sights and sounds of Africa are wonderful, however in the slums, we find a much different, pungent smell and appearance which is often difficult for some to bear.
Today I was visiting a children's home in the middle of the slum of Kawangware. Aside the tin shacks which constituted their home, ran a river of raw sewage. Garbage covered the ground in every direction and there was no greenery to be seen in the district. As we walked through the narrow path toward the sleeping rooms, we would jump over this sewage stream and hop from rock to rock to avoid stepping in the slime.