“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.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15: 12)
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13: 35)
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.
Love can mean so many different things to different people. Often it refers to how one feels about another person, place or object. In Africa love is measured by what you would sacrifice for another person. In this sense love truly is an act re-affirming a feeling. The Saviour taught us that if we 'love' Him we will keep the commandments. In other words, our love becomes real through our actions.
In a land where there is so much need, one would think that the tendency would be toward self-preservation but in reality the people truly see themselves as an interdependent community wherein their happiness is conditional upon helping those around them.
Journal Entry: VALENTINE’S DAY
I was recently visiting one of our orphanages in Nairobi. It happened to be Valentine’s Day, I was playing with about twenty, two-year-olds. As we were having fun together the matron came into the courtyard carrying a cake that somebody had donated to the orphanage. You must understand that these children never have such treats and it could very well be the first cake they have ever seen. I was no longer of any interest. They all gathered around the matron in the hopes of getting a piece of the cake. She instructed them to sit on the ground as she proceeded to cut the heart shaped cake into 25 pieces. The children watched in silence as the cake was cut into pieces about one inch square. Each child received their piece and began to savour their treat. One of the little boys was standing next to me and was carefully eating his cake keeping the frosting for last. As he was about to enjoy that last morsel, somebody inadvertently bumped him and his precious piece of frosting fell to the ground. He looked down in a state of panic to find his frosting and jumped down to retrieve it. Having retrieved it, he placed it in his mouth, bit it in half and turned to find another little girl without cake. He gave her half of his little treasure. Such is the pure love of a child.
One of the joys of our work here in Africa is coming to know the wonderful men and women who care for these sweet children. I call them champions for that is truly what they are. In most cases they have devoted everything they have to the care of the children. They live in abject poverty and use all their time and energy to gather together the basic needs of the children. I always ask why they have taken upon themselves such a heavy load in life and there are only three answers I have ever received.
Many have seen the suffering of the children and could not bear to allow it to continue without doing whatever they could to tend to their needs. Others were orphans themselves and feel it is their blessing and responsibility to save other children as they had been saved. The balance feel that it is God that has reached out to them and called them to provide for these precious souls. As we assess the motivation of these caregivers we pledge our commitment to be at their side as they reach out to these abandoned children. A day does not go by that I am not hugged, embraced, held and prayed for. I try to convey that the blessings provided actually come from God and we are only the deliverymen. They extend such deep gratitude for the support and love we try to share. They do not understand that they provide much more to us than we will ever be able to provide for them. The bonds of friendship that ensue help them overcome all the trials that the work entails.
Walking through a slum named Kayoli we were going through a garbage dump and found an infant who had been discarded. As we picked him up it was apparent that he was in very poor shape. His face was shrivelled and his tiny hands were wrinkled. We quickly took him to the hospital to find out that he was about six hours old, his umbilical cord was still attached and needed to be attended to. After fixing him up we then took him to the police to register him as an abandoned child. We were then allowed to take him to one of the orphanages we sustain.
Journal Entry: ALONE THROUGH AIDS
Aids is a terrible plague which affects so many more than the participants. We have children under our care that are orphans due to the fact that both of the parents have succumbed to the infection. We have children who are born with the affliction having received it through a deceased parent. In Ethiopia we were visiting a small village and entered a hut where the head of the house was ten years old. His was the job to care for his younger siblings aged four to eight. He had to find food, shelter and care for them when they were sick. In another village we were taken to a hut wherein a small boy of eight was living and caring for his infirm grandmother in the place of his parents who had both died from the disease.