“We watched Mercy become orphaned in front of our eyes.” 15-year-old Ella Pearl penned these words upon returning from Kenya with River Oaks Community Church, a church partnered with Fountain of Hope in Kenya through World Orphans. 

After being severely injured in a car accident, Francis was the focus of River Oaks Community Church’s prayers, and the group intended to visit and pray with him when they arrived in Kenya. They were not given the opportunity, though. Shortly after their arrival in Kenya, Francis passed away from an infection that he incurred following the accident.

In this blog post from 2015, Kathy Davis, the director of the partnership, unpacked what it is truly like to mourn with those who mourn. Francis left behind a wife, Veronica, and three children: Rachel, Emmanuel, and Mercy. 

River Oaks Community Church returned to Kenya this summer, highly anticipating their visit with Veronica and the children. A year can change so much. It can make you stronger or weaker. It can lead to healing or make the wound feel deeper. It can make you find your resilience or fall apart.

Mercy, Emmanuel, Veronica, and Rachel (Photo Credit: Jason Dotsch)

Mercy, Emmanuel, Veronica, and Rachel (Photo Credit: Jason Dotsch)

Kathy and her team were welcomed into Veronica’s home with open arms, and they spent the next few hours catching up on all that had been missed during the last 12 months. The last year had certainly not been an easy one, as parenting on a single mother’s income is challenging, and the children, who loved their father very much, needed time to grieve. Yet, the transformation specifically in Rachel, the oldest of the children, is truly remarkable.

Rachel and a friend from River Oaks Community Church  (Photo Credit: Jason Dotsch)

Rachel and a friend from River Oaks Community Church (Photo Credit: Jason Dotsch)

Rachel is a big-hearted, big-dreaming 17-year-old girl, whose giggles and selfies might lead you to forget the tremendous loss she has already faced in her young life. She is smart, with a head full of business ideas and tangible plans to make her dreams a reality. In partnership with other girls at her school, Rachel has already launched a business selling handmade goods, and is currently in the process of learning about accounting and other business management skills. 

With eyes fierce with determination, Rachel explained to Kathy that you cannot simply know how much you need to spend on materials in order to know what to charge people, but you must take into account a variety of other expenses, including what you pay your workers. Kathy could almost hear the gears turning, shifting, and clicking as Rachel explained business entrepreneurship. Through Fountain of Hope Church and a scholarship offered by a local bank, Rachel is able to be in school and participate in the club that allows her to pursue these business dreams. After all that Rachel has lost, she is still determined to give.

“I’ve been so blessed, I want to make enough money to give back,” Rachel says. 

Rachel wants to give back to her community. She wants to use her talents, the resources she endeavors to acquire, and the knowledge she’s swiftly gaining, to make her community a better place for everyone. Rachel–despite devastating loss and hardships–is opening up her hands to the community rather than clenching her fists. 

On Sunday, Rachel’s voice echoes through the church, as she sings a song of hope. She tells the church that God sustained her during this last year while her family lamented the loss of her father. Despite the challenges, Rachel remains ever-hopeful, resilient, and determined to make a difference. In the face of loss, Rachel has chosen to give. As she gives, we pray Rachel receives “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:38).