Kenya (MNN) – Sometimes God calls us to do things that seem illogical and even crazy. But when we trust Him and follow His guidance, beautiful things happen. This is the story of Margaret Njuguna. Four years ago, she started a journey that would forever change her life, and impact the community around her.
Njuguna runs a ministry called En-Gedi in Kenya where she lives. En-Gedi is a ministry partner of Set Free Ministries. The name means “place of refuge” and that’s exactly what this ministry is.
You see, in many parts of Africa, great stigma surrounds people with disabilities. So strong is the superstition that children born with disabilities are likely to be hidden away or even left for dead soon after they’re born. Many of these children end up in the cities where they live out their days begging, if they’re lucky.
Njuguna worked in development for many years where she had a steady job helping the poor. But one group of people they weren’t focusing on were those who had disabilities. So God began to burden her heart.
“I fell in love with people in the streets and I fell in love in a way that we are supporting so many poor people, but we don’t do anything for the disabled people who live in the streets. And I started reaching out to them on my own free time, to find out why they live in the streets. Like, why are they homeless? What happened to them that they became homeless?” She says.
“And I made friends with them and they gave me their stories.”
She learned that many of these people had been brought to the city by neighbors or siblings who wanted to release them from the isolation they were growing up in at home. But even still, Njuguna realized God wanted more for these people than having to beg on the streets. She knew someone was supposed to step in and help.
“And I decided it was me that God was calling. So that love for people who many just passed through on the roadside was God’s love and He wanted me to do that, and so I told him ‘God I… have accepted to be your channel of love to these unloved people.’”
While Njuguna’s colleagues were concerned that she was leaving her job, and possibly her only way to support herself, she stepped out in faith and God has used her obedience mightily.
“[God] has a special place in His heart for these children who are unwanted, and right now, my testimony is these children were not allowed to be members of the family, previously. They lived either behind their home or tethered in a dark corner, or even in the bush. And God has provided a beautiful, beautiful home for them.”
This beautiful home is En-Gedi, the name of the place in Israel where David hid from King Saul.
“En-Gedi is a place of refuge and a place of refuge because in many countries in Africa (I would say it’s more than in my country Kenya because I have extensively traveled within Africa) that if parents have a child with disability they refer that is a curse or is a bad omen or is something not right,” Njuguna explains.
But at En-Gedi, children are not only well cared for, but they learn that they are valuable, they are loved, and that they belong to God just as much as anyone else.
“I knew that I was going to rescue children from unloving parents, children who are unwanted, and that’s why I called it a place of refuge. So, my work is rescuing children who are abused, neglected, isolated, and some of these children would be left in the bush so that they either die of natural causes or they’re eaten by wild animals. Others will be tethered behind their parents houses. They don’t allow them to be part of the family.”
It’s been four years since En-Gedi opened, and Njuguna says they’ve seen God at work every step of the way.
“We got full in our little house in about a year and a half, and so many children waiting to be rescued, and my working endlessly with those parents so that I give them hope that [some time in] the future, I will help you raise your children.”
So with the need still so great, the team began praying for God to guide them, and they began planning for growth. And God answered in an affirming way.
“God opened doors and gave us resources to buy land. And then, I made a five-year plan for raising close to half a million American dollars to build a facility that would accommodate many more children. And I prayed over that and I told God to walk with me.
“And my five-year plan was shortened by God to two years. So, God gave us about half a million dollars in two years. And we got a facility that we just completed, end of last year.”
Now, En-Gedi has the capacity to house more than 30 children as well as short-term and long-term volunteers.
Njuguna says she doesn’t consider this a miracle. She says it is just how God works—in mighty ways. And for her, it’s evidence that she heard Him correctly when He called her into this ministry.
“So providing for us, even within a shorter time than expected is affirming that He owns all the resources and that He called me and He knew that He would provide for me if only I answered His call. And that’s what I did.”
Stayed tuned to learn how En-Gedi is also challenging the local attitude towards people with disabilities.