Kenya (MNN) – En-Gedi, a ministry partner of Set Free Ministries, is working to care for unwanted children with disabilities. But while they care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of these children, the ministry is also advocating for them.
Margaret Njuguna, founder of En-Gedi, believes that it’s the Church’s responsibility to look out for the downtrodden. In Africa, there are very few resources for people with disabilities. In fact, there are a lot of cultural beliefs that stand in the way of them being accepted as valued members of society.
Many people believe that disabilities mean someone is cursed.
En-Gedi is working to change that among parents, but it’s likely that much of the superstition and stigma will remain in older generations. But recently, Njuguna came up with a plan to make sure that the future of Kenya harbors fewer people who look at disability as a curse.
“Some of those beliefs would take probably generations to change when parents and older people believe in that,” she says.
“And one of the things that I’ve started is to work with children. The churches that are around our town, including my own child, we have been having Sunday school children, who are between the ages of seven to 11 years, come to us on Sunday mornings, once in a while, for their Sunday school class, to come to En-Gedi and to have the children service with us.”
“They’re not sick.”
This aspect of the ministry started because of one young boy who kept calling En-Gedi to check on his brother. Njuguna says this boy would call in frequently, asking if his brother was well. Finally, she asked him why he was so concerned with his brother’s health.
“He told me, ‘My brother John has a very bad illness and we were told not to talk to him. And he lived out there in the bush and we could just go and quickly give him some little milk and then dash back because he has a very bad disease.’
“So, that lie is the one that a lot of parents give to the siblings so that the disabled child is isolated. And I thought I can change the attitudes of children. I cannot change the attitudes and the belief system of the adults.
“And it has worked so well. Children would come, and they would ask me all these questions. ‘When will these children be healed?’ And it’s like, they’re not sick. God made them this way. And it’s alright to work with them. They build blocks on the floor. Some of them are still afraid, but within the short visit, they are all on the floor doing things with them.”
This occasional Sunday school meeting has helped change attitudes in a big way. In fact, Njuguna gets calls from parents telling her that their children pray every day for the children at En-Gedi.
Supporting this “Place of Refuge”
God is using this ministry to form people’s hearts to be more like His. Do you want to help? Start with prayer.
First, ask God to send more people to En-Gedi who have the same passion as its founder. Currently, along with Njuguna, En-Gedi has four full-time caregivers, two trained reserves, part-time therapists, and a nun who help out.
“God used me to start En-Gedi and be the carrier of His ministry at the beginning. But it’s not my ministry. And I am praying that God will give me other people who can come out and work with me as partners, equal partners serving God together. I’m also looking for volunteers who can come short-term, long-term.”
She’s also hoping that God will open the doors to start a program with Christian colleges to do interim classes at En-Gedi focusing on special education, early childhood development, and things like physical therapy.
If you feel like you could be of use in any of these ways, contact En-Gedi here.
Also, pray for hearts to continue to be impacted by this ministry:
“Keep praying with us that people will embrace disabilities as a, you know, as a way of life. It’s different. But we all belong to God.”
There are also some facility needs as well. They have a building that will be available to rent out for extra income. However, they cannot make this a commercial offer until they get a backup generator. They also need to have some facility updates that accommodate children who cannot sit in a wheelchair or fit in a bathtub.
Furthermore, their therapy room, which will be open to the public eventually, does not have any equipment.