“Ministering To Our Father’s Children” will be a series of periodic 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 people.
“He who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), p588)
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9: 6 )
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.
As we strive to 'Come unto Christ' and live the life of a disciple, it becomes clear that we can only do that as we serve our fellowman. This requirement was taught by the Saviour when He stated,' A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another'(John 13:34-35).
It is contrary to conventional wisdom that as we give of ourselves and our time, we in fact are the ones richly blessed when we reach out to lighten the burden of others. The children of Africa have greatly blessed me in understanding who I am, that my Father in Heaven loves me and that we can all enjoy happiness and personal fulfillment no matter what our circumstances. We all have the blessed gifts of agency and the Light of Christ that help us work through and benefit from the trials we face, but we need to work together.
Journal Entry: LED BY CHILDREN
One of our orphanages is a children's home in Nairobi, Kenya. The lady who started it was a beautiful model who abandoned her career to care for children. She started with seven street children and took them into her tiny room. Her name is Faith and her love for children is overwhelming. She has been doing it for 15 years and now she has over 350 children. Their love for her is so evident every time I visit as they all gravitate to their “Mama” whenever they see her.
On a recent visit, I desired to discuss the budget of her centre and she asked me if I wanted to meet her business manager. I was pleased to hear that she had one and she called for him. In a few minutes, he showed up. He was 14 years old. He produced his books and went over the financial reports in a very professional manner. He had been taught all his skills in the orphanage. The meal we had during our visit was prepared by a girl no older than 10 years. She did a wonderful job and had learned so many skills she would use throughout her life.
Before we left, Faith had a visit from a gentleman named Morris. He was a college graduate and a successful businessman. In our brief meeting, I learned that Faith had found him sniffing glue on the streets as a young boy and took him in many years ago. She cared for him and ensured he obtained all his education including college. He owes his life and future to this sweet lady.
Each of these children are so precious and given the opportunity, they all blossom.
Journal Entry: JIGGERS
On a recent outing to Uganda, I found myself on the back of a motorcycle visiting villagers and checking on the health of the children. One of their struggles is with jiggers. Jiggers are parasites that enter the body through the feet and crawl up the body of children. The solution to jiggers is quite simple--shoes. I once thought that African children don't wear shoes because they didn't want to. Such is not the case. They would all love to wear shoes, if they could afford their cost. We have shipped thousands of pairs of shoes and they are always enthusiastically received.
As we render assistance to the children’s homes of Africa, we find that they often use our funding in order to buy food for the children. The most expensive food includes meat, fruits and vegetables. With the objective of helping them become self-sustaining, we have started teaching them methods whereby they can obtain these essential foods without expending their precious money.
As all homes buy their vegetables at the local outdoor market, we have given them a method that will provide them with all the vegetables they need at no cost. On market day, the house mother goes to each vendor and asks for a single item. It could be one tomato, one banana or one carrot. Merchants see almost no value in a single item of this kind and willingly accommodate the simple request. If the vendor is reluctant, the mother asks for only a blemished product that would otherwise not be sold. In return for the item, the mother expresses genuine gratitude for the precious gift. She then proceeds to the next vendor and makes a similar request. By the end of the morning, the mother has more food than she can carry and each merchant is happy that they could help the children without suffering themselves.
In Africa, they have a phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” This method of obtaining food is the direct application of that principle. Most people want to help, but those with little don’t know how they can contribute without causing hardship to themselves. This request is simple, clear and within the limits of those approached. It is working!