I wanted to write this story with a happy ending. The truth is, I have been waiting until this story had a happy ending to share more. But, God has made it clear that it is time to share. This story is a work in progress, and I want to invite you into it. It’s a story of a woman and family enduring incredible hardship, and in need of prayer and support from the body of Christ.
It started on June 24th, when our office received a referral from the police regarding a woman in great need. Her name is Sarah, and she does not know her age. She is a blind woman whose parents abandoned her shortly after birth due to her disability. She found out later that her mother had passed away. Her entire life, she has been a victim of domestic violence and rape. As soon as she was of age to have children, she was raped and gave birth to a baby boy. This child was taken by the police to the father’s family and Sarah has had no contact with him since. She has four other children, ages 11, 9, 5, and 2.
For five years, Sarah ran a shop in a local village that allowed her to care for her children. The children helped her in the shop, and the 11 year old was extremely helpful with her mothers physical needs related to her disability.
Some months ago, Sarah lost her store. The children’s father was stealing produce from the store, stealing money, beating Sarah, and attempting to sexually abuse the only daughter. All of this resulted in the loss of the shop and Sarah was forced to leave after her husband demanded she sleep outside for 2 weeks. This left her family homeless. She and the children spent the first few days at the police station, and then Sarah left the police to search for food and find help since the police had nothing to offer her. While she was away, her oldest three children were taken to a government-run orphanage and the 2 year old was placed with a Christian lady named Ruth. During the time Sarah was gone and considered a missing person, she was a victim of domestic violence once again. This resulted in pregnancy and miscarrying a child. Since then, she has been experiencing severe abdominal pain.
Without a home, her children, or a job, Sarah came to us for help. Child Advocacy Africa social workers listened to her story and asked Sarah what she desired. She said she wanted the ability to raise her children; she wanted to be a mother to her kids who were in the orphanage. She wanted her shop back. She missed the days of successfully running a business that supported her family. Because of her disability, she needs her children to help her in the shop. After a long discussion with Sarah and a completed socialwork assessment, we told her we wanted to help to the best of our ability.
Our team came up with an action plan. First and foremost, we needed to attend to Sarah’s medical needs. She needed a thorough examination and treatment for the severe abdominal pain she was experiencing. Reuniting her with her children was also a priority. Although we knew that her medical needs were real and needed treatment, we wondered if the grief and stress of being separated from her children were contributing factors to her physical illness.
We made a plan to find a small place to rent for Sarah and her family. This place included a shop that she would be able to run. We planned to give her a small grant to start her business and pay rent for the first few months. This grant would also help support her family until she her shop was providing enough income to sustain her. Because she had successfully managed a shop previously, Sarah has the basic knowledge and skills needed in maintaining a shop. We were excited to execute this plan!
Things do not always go as planned, and such is the case with Sarah. There have been unexpected challenges and complications along the way. There have also been unexpected miracles of provision that have allowed us to celebrate God’s goodness in the midst of a sad story. And in all of this, we see the story of fall, redemption, reconciliation, and restoration that are parts of His narrative. And in His narrative, we see that He is intimately involved in the details of our lives. And we find peace that, “in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:17).”
This family needs your prayers. I want to share Part II (and perhaps Part III if needed) tomorrow. But as you read this, would you stop and pray for Sarah and her family? Today is a big day for her! Tomorrow I will share what has happened over the past month.