The Law of Abundance

I often hear “if I had more I would give more”.  This defies the law of abundance.

My gates of abundance opened once I started donating more. This gave me the feeling of true abundance. Giving and receiving are two beautiful things to balance. When one gives from a place of knowing the universe and God has their back -  watch out!  It creates such a miraculous flow. I believe every dollar I spend returns to me quadrupled and is a very fun affirmation. And because I believe it, I see it. To open the gates of abundance one must feel they are abundant. One must feel they are always in a state of “enough” and are being taken care of.  One has to believe they have enough to give, and what better way than to sponsor a child?   

SERV International is such a great cause and where anyone can give any amount that will return ten fold to the people receiving as well as the one giving.

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These are my 3 new kiddos that I now get to have an impact in their lives. I have 7 with another organization, so I now sponsor 10!   

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I didn’t wait to sponsor a child when I was earning more. I sponsored children as soon as I started my networking career when I was financially BROKE, but my soul and mindset was abundant.  This has been another secret to my success - GIVING. It always comes back!!!


Written by Casey Plouffe

My Passion

Jambo! (Hello)

I wanted to share my story regarding SERV International and hopefully inspire and encourage others to get involved and support the efforts at SERV.  It started four years ago for me when I noticed posts by my friend Jim regarding mission work in Kenya.  We sat down and discussed all the exciting efforts SERV was doing in Kenya.  I stated “I’m in so where do I sign up and when do I go”.  Needless to say I was on the next mission trip to Kenya, my first mission trip and my first visit to Kenya.  I personally have always wanted to follow God’s lead of support for the world around me.  During this experience I was overcome with emotions to see firsthand how my brothers and sisters in Christ lived in another part of the world from the slums to SERV’s House of Hope orphanage in Lodwar.  To meet saints like Mama Mercy and all her efforts to provide for upwards of 600 children in the slums with food, shelter and education warmed my heart.  To see how SERV shares the word of Christ’s love through Food.  To be introduced to the amazing children at House of Hope who have been rescued from poverty and other living situations who require sponsorship to live at House of Hope with a better life (food, protection, clothing, education, LOVE) and to guide them through life in order to be contributors back to their communities when they are grown.  To foster relationships with remote desert villages in Lodwar by delivering food, some wells for clean water, building churches and building pastors. 

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During subsequent mission trips to Kenya (now four in total) I was blessed with the opportunity to bring in new children to our House of Hope.  Each one warming my heart and building my desire to foster them through sponsorship.  I am now blessed to sponsor three of our boys, which provides for their monthly needs of food, clothing, education, protection shaping them into the beautiful young adults they will quickly become.  This sponsorship is critical to their sustaining a quality of life and building their future and provides me a vehicle to share my abundance of blessings with others as God intended.  I also want to add that I was blown away by how SERV organizes and structures the mission trips and the 100% pass through of all donations.  I was further blessed to identify I work for an employer that matches up to $10000 per year and supports my time out of office to take these journeys.  I know SERV cannot continue these efforts without sponsorship not only for our House of Hope children but for all the outreach efforts at SERV. 

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I am now excited to join SERV for my first mission trip to Cambodia, yet another area of our world in need of sharing our abundance.  God blesses me daily with everything I need to live a comfortable life.  I have always had the desire to give back.  It started locally with our homeless ministry through church – food, clothing, love.  Oftentimes people just need to know God loves them and we love them.  I hope this story will inspire and encourage many others to sponsor our children at House of Hope, sponsor the efforts and ministry at SERV International, and to join us on future mission trips.  I have already submitted my application to return to Kenya in October 2019.  It is my passion and fills me with immense joy.  I have love to share with my brothers and sisters around the world in addition to here at home. I have been richly Blessed!

Written by James Ries

The Dominican Experience
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I have always prayed about going on a mission trip for years, but nothing ever brought an answer. The thought of going to a different country to help others always brought joy to my heart. On June 3rd, my prayer had finally been answered. It was just a normal day for me, getting ready for church, getting there and sitting with the people that I normally sit with. After service, they were talking about how they were behind on fundraising for a mission trip coming up. Then, they asked me if I wanted to come. They told me that the last day to sign up was in 3 days. As soon as they asked, I said yes. I was not hesitant and I just felt like this was the right time to go. My friends exchanged the information that I needed to order my passport and apply for my spot to the Dominican Republic. As soon as I left the service, I went to CVS to get my passport picture taken and as soon as I got home, I applied on the SERV website. I was so excited and ready for this experience that I had been waiting for all my life. The month passed and it was almost time for the trip. I had some more fundraising to do, but I was not worried because I knew God wanted me to be on this trip. The days before the trip were flying by. I had packed a month in advance and when the day was upon me, the feelings rushed.

 Arriving at the airport, knowing this was a lot of firsts for me, my first mission trip, my first time going out of the country, my first time on an airplane. I was a bit nervous but I was ready. The flight was fun and amusing. Seeing how small the cars and houses were. The beautiful clouds and oceans. The 3-hour flight went by and we arrived in Santo Domingo. As we were landing, I could see the baby blue ocean some ways away and I could also see the little shacks that were houses to some of the people in the DR. It was such a fascinating view to literally see the struggle before landing. Getting off the airplane and into the airport, it was so different from America. Being my first time ever out of the country, it was so amusing just looking around, seeing the signs and posters all in Spanish, not knowing what they said at all. Hearing the Dominicans and Haitians speak Spanish was oddly soothing to listen to. Meeting the pastor and his wife there, our mission had begun.

Arriving at the church with a sign at the top of the church doors saying “Bienvenidos,” I met the most amazing people. The church members along with some great kids. We all clicked instantly. For our first day at the church, I got to help prepare the food for lunch. I had so much fun, listening to them chat while the kids were teaching me Spanish. The food was ready and we all ate together, feeling like one big happy family. After setting up for VBS, we all did door-to-door ministry and I was amazed. Just the way I felt about going to the houses and just praying over them, and blessing their houses just gave me so much joy. I had never experienced that, and as soon as we were done praying for the first person in the village, that’s when I knew I wanted to do missions for the rest of my life.

The next morning, we got to go to another village and do door-to-door ministry again. To see the hard struggle of some of these families really broke my heart. Things such as a woman being blind, an eldered man getting hit by a motorcycle and almost dying, or a woman having a brain disorder where she thought she was still a child. Fortunately, we got to give the blind woman our first water filter and some bags of food. She was very appreciative and such a blessing to meet. Meeting other families, we got to get the chance to bless them before we left as well. We left, leaving our blessings and prayers to that village. Arriving back at the church, we started getting ready for the first night of VBS. The kids started arriving and we got to play with most of them. The VBS went great and I really got to meet such loving and selfless kids. I was in paradise. I never thought that these kids would bring so much joy to my life! I will never forget all the precious souls that I got to meet.

On one of the days, we got to rest and go to Santo Domingo and shop for souvenirs and enjoy our time at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. While shopping, I noticed a simple bracelet that was left on a necklace shelf. Not knowing what it said, I just picked it up and the feeling of God rushed me. On the bracelet it said, “Mission Trip DR.” I was so astounded and I just had to buy it as soon as possible. I showed everyone and we looked everywhere for others so the whole team could get one, but there was only one. I felt like God wanted me to have it. Even though it was something so little, I saw God in the situation and it was awesome. Being done with shopping, we made our way to the beach. I had never seen such clear water before. It was beautiful. Watching all the Dominican people walk back and forth, selling souvenirs and food to tourists, knowing that it was their job and that’s how they make a living. It was a humbling experience for sure. As we left the beach and got to the hotel, I was not prepared for the next day as it was the last day of VBS.


VBS started and I did not want it to end. I tried to play with each and every kid before we said our goodbyes. Unfortunately, I was not able to say goodbye to some of them due to me having a break down. As I was watching all of the kids eat their snack after VBS, I noticed that even though these kids literally have nothing else to give except their love and presence, I saw them share the last of their bread and the last of their juice, even though they wanted it more. They thought of so many others before themselves and that’s when it hit me. I had to get up and remove myself before any of them noticed me crying. It hit my heart so bad. Just knowing how genuine and how loving these kids were just made me want to stay in the DR forever. I will never forget the feeling of my breakdown and I will always remember all of the genuine hearts these kids have.

“The Dump” gave me chills. The kids gave me grief. The experience of being there gave me humbleness. Arriving at The Dump, it was actually cool to me how many weird looks we all got because of the color of our skin. Some of these people had never seen a white person before in their life. Before doing door-to-door missions, the team told me to be careful with these kids, but why? These kids live in their own trash and The Dump has many diseases. I was not able to hold, to love up on, or to kiss on any of these kids how I wanted to because of how they lived. It broke my heart and I just felt so much hurt for these kids. The Dump is all that they know. The village they call a home where they live in trash and filth. The thing that got to me the most were the kids begging for the food we had. Tugging on our arms, begging us to come bring the food to their families. Kids the ages of two to about fourteen or fifteen, begging because of their own starvation. It brought literal sickness to my stomach. I am forever going to remember The Dump and to always be grateful for what I have and where I live.

The last day being in the Dominican brought so much tears. I did not want to leave my second family. I did not want to go back home to America where the people are needy in a way that is so demanding. I did not want to leave such sweet souls and my true happiness. While giving out notes to some of the kids that meant the most to me saying “I will love you forever. You will always be in my heart,” and instantly getting a note back from one of them and it said “You were the best missionary I have ever met. You were happy, affectionate and I want you to come back soon. In the days that you have been here at the church, you were always happy every time. You would kiss me and I thank you. I love you so much and I hope you come back soon. I love you.” I am enough for these kids. I am enough for this church and these church members. I am enough for this country. After exchanging notes, I gave the two girls some of my belongings that meant a lot to me so they could keep forever.

The church service started and we began to pray on our knees about everything. The community of the Dominican, the health of the church members, the starving kids in the world, the safety for the SERV team, and a lot of other things. We sang songs with them and we even got to sing a song for them as well. The pastor gave such an amazing message in the speech and his wife had something amazing to say specifically for me. I had no idea I needed this woman in my life more than I have ever needed anything. While speaking in Spanish, I paid attention to her but I obviously had no idea what she was saying, but when she was done, I definitely felt God as she came to hug me. I was confused as to why she was only coming to hug me and no one else. I didn’t know what she said but when she hugged me, I knew it was from God. I cried as she cried and we exchanged I love you’s. After, I looked in the church and I noticed the lives that I touched. I noticed how bug of an impact I really was on this trip even though during the whole thing I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Just by being myself and doing what I do every day, it touched so many people and I finally realized that I am enough. I am worthy. I am loving. I am Godly. I am important. I am contagious. I AM LOVED. I am loved by so so so many. When the service was over, her daughter translated what her mother had said about me and it was that When I came to the church, God told her that I was very special. God told her that I was struggling at home and she said that I needed to trust in Him and know that God will always be with me and that she loves me very much. Also, when I head back to America, that I should always remember that someone from this church will always be praying for me, especially her. I can’t really explain the feeling that this gave me but all I know is, God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. I am at loss for words how amazing God is. To speak to someone else that I barely know, when he KNEW that I was struggling with many things, to let her speak through Himself really just amazes me to the point where I simply can not speak. I experienced God’s presence through miss Rafaella. I felt God in her. I feel God because of her, and I could not thank God enough for ALWAYS showing me how faithful and loving He is to us.

Saying my goodbyes to everyone that I love so much in such a short time was definitely the hardest thing to do, but that just means that I HAVE to come back. This is just the beginning of my journey of missions and when we parted ways with one another, I specifically said, “it’s not an Adios, it’s a Hasta Luego.” 

  1. Written by Havyn Wilson




Blessed to be a Blessing
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Are you looking for a way to GIVE back this Thanksgiving?  SERV Local will be offering a different opportunity each day for you to be involved in blessing our community, surrounding communities and to the ends of the earth.

This Thanksgiving we are thankful for how God has blessed us and we want to be a blessing to others in return.  Join us this week to help reach out and show God's love to our community.

We have 3 options for you to serve here at our U.S. Headquarters: 3145 Marietta Hwy. Canton, GA 30115. 

To sign up for a service opportunity, visit

Monday: Free Coffee and Donuts

We would love it if you would be willing to come out from 8am-11am and help us SERV our community by giving out free coffee and donuts!

Tuesday: Blessing bags

From 11am-3pm we will be packing out Blessing Bags here at the SERV Offices. These will be distributed throughout the month of November to people in need in our community.

Wednesday: Black Friday Prep

This is an ALL DAY event.  You can come by at any time from 9am to 5pm to help out in our SERV Store. The store is located in the same building as our offices and helps  to fund the ministry of SERV International.  We need your help putting furniture together, sorting items, hanging clothes, etc.  With your help, we can get as much merchandise on the shelves as possible so we are ready for Black Friday and can continue to fund the amazing work SERV is doing by feeding people across the nations.

Can’t make it to our Thanksgiving SERV Local Week?  No problem!  You can still be involved by donating these items for our “Blessing Bags”:

Gallon Sized Zip Lock Baggies, Christmas Themed Cookies (Packaged, not homemade), Granola Bars, Candy Canes, Individually wrapped pretzels, Christmas Themed hard candies/peppermints

On Holy Ground

There’s a smell to it that’s hard to describe: abject poverty. It’s not a putrid or unbearable smell as one might imagine. It’s not the kind of smell that hits your nostrils and makes you immediately resort to gasping for fresh air or clasping your hands over your face in an attempt to avoid inhaling at all.

But it’s an intense sweet and pungent stench that smells like nothing comparable, and it never leaves you once you’ve breathed it in. It’s hard to describe and it’s like no other, but it’s a stench that is unmistakably human and undeniably desperate. 

The Virgo in me stood stiff and stared at two young women bent over, scrubbing clothes with dirty water in a 50-gallon drum cut in half that lay horizontal on the ground next to heaps of garbage and an open shed housing several starving cows. I guess it was somewhat of a makeshift laundromat in the slums of Mathare. I couldn’t bring myself to imagine what a bath might resemble here, until I realized that most of the people who live here were likely not to bathe for… well, not to bathe at all.

My heart nearly stopped beating when I scraped my arm on a nail sticking out from a leaning wooden pallet where we were walking up some steps. It broke the skin underneath my shirt but fortunately didn’t tear through the material releasing tetanus and God only knows what else through my body (though it clearly scraped the skin and drew blood to the surface of my sleeve). I, of course, immediately reached into my travel purse and pulled out an antiseptic wipe to ward off any bacteria for the moment and had the comfort of knowing I had travel antibiotics back at base camp; not to mention the tetanus booster shot I’d had weeks before.

There are over half a million people, mostly women and children, crammed into a one-half mile radius—living, dying, breathing, procreating, and somehow finding something to eat on a not-so-daily basis—in what most would consider God-forsaken circumstances by any definition. And if you truly don’t believe in the devil, then go to the Mathare Slums in Nairobi and take a look around; I assure you evil is alive and well, and even thriving there in the desolation of poverty.

Yet, in the midst of it all lives a woman offering mercy and kindness to children who are orphans. They call her Mama, and she is exactly that; one who offers herself as a candle in the darkness so that others can see the light where people live to survive and survive to live. It ain’t pretty but it’s home for her as she cooks the only food that many will eat for ever-how-many days since their last meal. And she, herself, is reliant on the generosity of others and the grace of God for provisions to provide for those who would otherwise go without.

Traveling north of the slums to the desert of Lodwar into no man’s land (or at least very few men), I find an abundance of women and children once again. They dance and sing joyfully upon our arrival, offering all they have when they have nothing but themselves to offer, and inviting me to sit with them on the ground … to sit with them in the spit and the sand and the sweat and the other bodily emissions that have gone before me on this sacred and holy dirt that we now call church. So there I sat in the midst of some of the most beautiful and haunting faces I’d ever seen, many of whom had never even seen their own reflections staring back at them. Can you imagine not knowing what you look like for most, if not all, of your life?

And there it was again, that stench of human desperation and dire need. Why does it seem like there are always more women and children, widows and orphans?

Back at base camp, I took a shower to wash off what I could of the day, but It permeated everything. I tried to wash it out of my clothes with soap and parasitic water. And therein lies the irony of what these people—my brothers and sisters—drink every single day that they live and breathe, and I use those terms loosely. Not only do they drink this water, but some of them walk several miles one way to retrieve it and carry it back to their straw huts.

He spoke to me one time in a quiet, but clear voice. It was a short, yet profound message. In my own personal angst and indignant self-righteousness, God humbled me in a most compelling way by telling me to simply take care of my brother. I knew exactly what He meant at the time and why, and I took action immediately. God speaking to you directly tends to have a “take immediate action” kind of effect, or at least it did on me.

I couldn’t help but hear that same message resonate in the ache of my chest as I threw my clothes in the washing machine in the comfort of my home with indoor plumbing and a refrigerator full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not because I’m sorry for where I live or the family I was born into or the country I have the grace of living in by birthright. And not because of the business I’ve had the privilege to create and thrive within or the home and property I own or that I can jump in my car and drive to a grocery store close by and purchase any amount of food and water I want. But because of those who offered themselves as all they had when they had nothing else to offer at all, and the stench that will never leave me.

I am my brother’s keeper. We all are. And yes, of the widows and orphans, too.

Written by Mama Jan Smith

To read more about Mama Jan, visit


Every Trip Enhances My Passion
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This was my third journey to Kenya and each time the experience delivers me a new appreciation for SERV ministry and further commitment to remain engaged with SERV missions and support of House of Hope for a lifetime. I cannot imagine not having this passion in my life and intend to make many more journeys to Kenya and start mission to Cambodia. I completely respect the care, planning and faith that go into each and every effort and trip for Kenya missions. Our on the ground partners/staff and our children and staff at HOH make you fall in love with Africa and ignite a passion for their well being. Delivering food to starving villages reflect a positive impact I can have on my world and my brothers and sisters in Christ in Kenya.

Written by James Ries

Kaakiring - A Village Transformed

In 2012, SERV International was told of a village named Kaakiring, located in the northwest remote desert region of Kenya, also known as the Turkana region. Due to the continual drought in this village, we saw a desperate need for food that we couldn't ignore. Once you see this type of devastation, it changes you. 

We met Jackson, who was a pastor in this village.  He told us of the months they have gone without food, and the toll it was taking on this community, resulting in death of his people and their livestock.  These villagers have depended on their livestock to use as their food or to sell to support their families.  Now they are left with little to nothing, resulting in a loss of hope.

We started with Food First and grew our relationship with Pastor Jackson and his village.  We kept going back with food to share God's love.  Once their immediate need for food was met, we wanted to meet their need for clean, safe water.  They were walking several miles each way to fetch dirty water, and we wanted to provide a long term solution for them by drilling a water well that would supply clean water for the entire village, as well as surrounding villages.  We shortly learned that the water well became their meeting place, as the women would gather for hours as a place to build their community.  

After SERV Food and clean water was introduced, the village began to thrive and the health of the village as a whole began to flourish for the very first time.  With Pastor Jackson leading his village, the local SERV team was able to provide financial support to him and his family, and provide a structure for him to minister in, as apposed to the tree they used to worship under.  Because of this, Pastor Jackson has now helped to plant over 20 surrounding pastors and churches, spreading the Good News even farther outward than ever before.

SERV has also planted the first successful greenhouse in this village, which has been producing fruit and vegetables for over the last 4 years.  This is a huge boost to their daily nutrition and provides even more community for them, as it brings people together from other villages who don't have access to food and water.

So when we say SERV Food is more than just food, this is why.



$100k in 100 Days

Watch this incredible video of our founder Steve Kasha in Africa as he explains why...

Cambodia - How it all Began


Karen Heard boarded a plane for the 21 hour journey to a land that she knew very little about. A friend from church asked her to go on a mission trip, and after she said “yes”, she had no idea she was on her way to the calling that God placed on her life.  Karen said, “from the minute I stepped into the slums in the city of Phnom Penh, I knew that I would settle in, and this would be my passion.  I had been to almost a dozen different countries on mission trips before, always hoping one of them would be a part of my calling.  But it wasn’t until I stepped onto the soil of Cambodia that I felt that deep peace - the kind that comes when you know without a doubt that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.”  

And so, a ministry was born.

Along with team members from that first trip, Alex Williams, Henry Couser and Karen met Sony Meas, a Cambodian who had over 10 years of experience directing ministries with a passion for sharing the Good News.  He begged the team to help him tell his people about Jesus.  He never asked for food, a school or a building.  He just wanted help spreading the word of God.  The team believed that if God was in this, it would flourish, so they used their own resources to support Sony for 1 year.  They quickly realized that the needs were many and wanted to provide Sony with additional resources.  During that year, Karen met Steve Kasha, founder of SERV International, and shared what they were doing in Cambodia.  After a lot of prayer and several meetings that spanned over one year, Steve caught the vision of what God was doing in Cambodia and combined their ministry with SERV International to create an even larger presence there.

It's been almost 2 years since their 1st trip to Cambodia, and there are 20 children in a sponsorship program, daily English classes for the village children, 4 soccer teams, 2 Bible studies and a ministry that helps provide food, medical treatment and other physical needs for the people in Vealsbow village and Deumsleng, a cemetery slum in the heart of Phnom Penh. Karen said "God continues to bring people alongside us who want to partner with us to stop the exploitation of children, who are willing to give generously to feed the hungry and who have a desire to bring Truth to the nations.”

This has been a true step of faith for Karen, Alex, Henry, Steve and SERV International.  For the people we serve in Cambodia, it means the difference between a life of spiritual and physical poverty transformed into a life of spiritual and physical freedom.  

A Tender Heart

I’ve been in love since the very 1st day I heard his story and laid eyes on him.  Francis’ story is heartbreaking, but it tells of God’s immeasurable grace that brings beauty out of ashes.

When Francis was brought to House of Hope in 2010, he was bruised, broken, hungry and scared. His father was killed by cattle raiders when he was very young, and he and his sister were being raised by his mother in their village. They were left alone at home while their mother went in search for food to feed her starving family. Two babies left alone is never good, no matter what country you live in. His sister couldn’t stop crying from hunger, and Francis knew he had to do something. Acting out of his tender heart, he went to a nearby hut and stole some food to give to his sister. When his mother returned, she was told that Francis stole from another villager. This brought shame to her. In Kenyan culture, stealing is punishable with severe beatings or death. There are no police. There are no attorneys. There are no judges or juries.


Moses trying to soothe Francis

Moses trying to soothe Francis

Keeping with cultural customs, Francis’ mother decided to teach him a lesson by tying him to a tree and severely beating him – almost to his death. After countless hits, he was missing nearly all of his teeth and his little head and body were bloody and bruised. Then she left him to die.

Thomas, the Director at House of Hope learned about what happened to Francis, and he and Steve Kasha, Founder of SERV International, made the decision to quickly rescue him and bring him to House of Hope (HoH) with a team in October 2010. He was so shy and embarrassed to laugh with his friends, as he only had 1 tooth remaining in the front of his broken, wounded smile. The HoH family quickly welcomed him with open arms and hearts, and he started to learn about the extravagant love of God for the first time in his life.


Francis today

Francis today

Fast forward to today: Francis is healthy, happy, full of life and smiles all the time with almost all of his beautiful teeth.  All but 1 tooth has grown back, and he is no longer embarrassed to smile, laugh and play with his new family.  He is doing well in school and wants to be a pilot when he grows up. He is learning to be a man of God and a growing leader in his community. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the loving staff at House of Hope.

Consider making a difference in the life of a child.  The reward is eternal, and it feels great knowing there is a person who now has a future because of a small donation and a lot of love from someone in the States.  My prayers continually go up in grateful obedience to the One who’s truth has set all of us, especially Francis, free.

Written by Cathi Lindsey Alford

Preston Todd
Rescuing Orphans
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
— Mother Teresa

This photo is the moment I picked up Julius for the first time. We were there to remove him from his critical situation and take him to The House of Hope; SERV International’s Children’s Home in Lodwar, Kenya. Julius was an orphan. I immediately looked into his eyes (that’s what I had always done in the U.S., engage with a child by making eye contact); this was different. He was different. I panicked inside. I’d thought this moment through a hundred times. I had no idea…

I had no idea how it would feel to pick up a 5-year-old boy who weighs what a typical American toddler would weigh. I had no idea how his bones would feel in my arms. I had no idea that he wouldn’t have eaten in over 36 hours. I had no idea how it would feel to look in his eyes and see nothing. There was no semblance of emotion; not even fear, nor sadness. I wasn’t sure what to do, I couldn’t communicate with language, so I followed my instincts and held on tighter. I could tell that Julius was not used to being touched gently and with love. Within minutes Julius locked his arms around my neck and didn’t let go.

We spent the rest of the day picking up other orphans who had been identified as being in critical need. We would bring the caretakers food and they would thank us for taking the child for whom they could not provide. Typically, the youngest orphan would be the last to receive food, water, or clothing, so they would be the ones we would take. I wish we could save them all.

I placed his first ever pair of shoes on his feet. He drank his first sip of clean water from a water bottle and ate his first bite of fresh watermelon. He would finally have 3 meals a day, a roof over his head, a bed to sleep on. He would have an education, medical care, church, and love. For a child in the unforgiving and drought-stricken desert of Lodwar, Kenya, coming to SERV’s House of Hope is like winning the lottery.

The older children welcomed the new, young orphans in the most awe-inspiring way. It seemed to me that they remembered what this day was like for them, years and years ago. The older children ran up to the youngsters and talked to them, showed them around, hugged them, sang to them, even helped them set up their new rooms. This was truly one of the most touching things I’ve ever witnessed. It was beautiful!

Fast forward 10 months, the experience was so impactful to me that I jumped on the opportunity to go again. Not only would I be honored with another chance to rescue more children, but, I would get to see Julius again. I wondered if he would remember me; if I had made an impact on him. Upon returning, I saw a completely changed boy. A happy boy. A healthy boy. As if seeing him happy, healthy, and thriving wasn’t enough; the countless smiles and unsolicited hugs I received from him melted my heart. I am part of his story.

I am endlessly grateful to SERV International for the opportunity to change this young man’s life; and, to change mine.


Written by Jennifer Felton

Preston Todd
Worlds Changed

On Sunday October 23rd, Susan Ekeno’s life changed.

Two Land Cruisers pulled up to her grandmother’s hut and a group of strangers climbed out. We circled up around Susan’s family and talked quietly amongst ourselves. What did the paperwork say about this one? Her grandmother is taking care of her? I wonder if those are siblings standing nearby. How old did they say she is? Susan didn’t understand anything we were saying. She looked scared. I wonder what it was like before we arrived. Did she cry? Did she hug her family and neighbors? Was she excited? Was she nervous?

Thomas and Moses spoke with the grandmother, and then Steve called Troy and me over. Little Susan looked away as a strange white woman, a mizunga, knelt down and took her hand. I told her hello and rubbed her hand with my thumb – the same way I caress my own daughter’s hand. I looked at the small, dirty hand in mine and the contrast of her coffee black skin against my pale palm was stark.

We all joined hands to pray, take a few pictures, and then we left. I gave Susan’s grandmother a cross necklace with our promise to love her granddaughter and take good care of her. I pray about them every time they cross my mind.

As we got back in the truck, Lopite clung to Debra’s hand and skirt. We had picked her up first and I wonder what it was like to watch another child, familiar in appearance and language, but a stranger, get loaded up into the truck with her. They would be classmates, roommates, hopefully friends. Sisters meeting.

Susan never let go of my hand as we made the trek back to town. She sat up, back straight and eyes wide, watching the landscape fly by as it changed from the desolate bush to the relative busyness of downtown Lodwar.

By Wednesday, she’d fit in so well, it was almost hard to find her in the group. But I got to hold her hand and hug her and take some bright, smiling pictures together. I ache to see her and hug her again and I can’t wait to watch her grow into a beautiful young lady. I can still feel her hand in mind, and I cried when I called the SERV office to sponsor her.

On Sunday October 23rd, Susan’s life changed forever. And so did mine.

by RoseAnne Shiver

Preston Todd
God's Tomatoes

She holds the tomato in one hand and the knife in the other. Juices run through her fingers as she drops slices onto a plate. The tomato is perfectly red – ripened on the vine in the hot Kenya sun and watered from the cold water of a well. I can almost taste it, just looking at the picture.

I think about the tomatoes in my local grocery store, just a mile and a half down the road. Dry, tasteless hot house Roma tomatoes for just $.99 a pound; vine-ripened tomatoes, probably imported from South America, for $1.49; or those fancy heirloom tomatoes shining in their unusual colors for $2.99. I can pick whichever I want without a second thought.

I imagine our House of Hope kids running into the dining hall and scrambling into their seats to await dinner. Shoes scuff across the concrete floors and metal plates rattle as they’re piled on the tables. What will the staff make with these tomatoes? Or with the other fresh vegetables proudly grown in their own greenhouses?

Spring is approaching here in Georgia and I’m thinking about what I’d like to plant in our little backyard garden. My daughter will soon be 3 and I know she’ll enjoy helping to water the plants and pick our harvest. I won’t think twice about turning on the spigot and feeling the spray of the cold water from the garden hose. She will laugh and try to spray me and turn to dance in the cold water. We’ll probably plant some tomatoes. She will especially enjoy going out every day to pick a handful of cherry tomatoes to pop into her mouth. There will be nothing special about it, other than the simple joy of growing something ourselves.

But I know that under the same summer sun, my friends on the other side of the world will be giving thanks for the nourishment and the vitamins provided by these greenhouse crops. They’ll deliver baskets of fresh produce down to the SERV store at the edge of the HOH property and local families will walk across sand and broken pavement to buy and bring home a small portion of that fresh food. And at the dining tables, the HOH kids will bow their heads to say asante to God for this delicious bounty.

Preston Todd
The Prodigal Children

Prodigal (adj): characterized by profuse expenditure, yielding abundantly

The Sunday after we got home from traveling to Kenya, our pastor started a short series on the parable of the Prodigal Son. He tied the word “prodigal” to the excessive love the father showed the son upon his return. In breaking down the father’s reaction and gifts, I realized that it mirrored our experience bringing home the new kids to House of Hope.

-The father ran to meet his son when he was a long way off: this shows the father making a concerted effort to get to his son. After flying to the other side of the world, we drove further over nonexistent or terribly ruined roads to pick up the new kids.

-The father hugged his son: we prayed over and embraced these children who are otherwise seen as burdens. Susan Ekeno, the girl I was paired with, never let go of my hand once we got in the car. She only let go when we got to HOH to jump into the open arms of the matrons and staff.

-The father gave his son a robe and shoes: driving back into Lodwar from the bush, we stopped at the market to buy our kids two sets of brand new clothing and shoes. Lopite didn’t have a shirt when we got her – Steve explained that because the family knew she would get more, someone probably took her shirt as their own. We watched in shock as Jack stumbled around the shop in his new sandals. He’d probably never had shoes on his feet before.

-The father had his servants prepare a feast with the fattened calf: after showering and donning their new, clean clothes, the children were immediately ushered into the dining hall and served a heaping pile of food, steaming hot and delicious, to be eaten to their hearts content. In fact, the children often get sick from overeating, but the staff lets them; it’s a lesson to show them that they’ll always have as much as they could want. Like the father’s abundant feast, these kids will never need to worry about hunger again.

-The father celebrated the son’s homecoming: the greatest gift the father gave was the restored relationship with the son. Like the father, we celebrated the new lives these children will have at House of Hope, with the staff, and with their sponsor families.

Granted, these children didn’t squander what they were given like the son in the parable. They started out with nothing, but we got to love on them and celebrate them coming home – to a place where they will always be loved and taken care of.
The parable is meant to demonstrate the outrageous, abundant love our Father has poured on us. But I got to see it in action as we proved God’s love to these children and their villages.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

by RoseAnne Shiver

Preston Todd