"That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best
and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--
to the glory and praise of God."
Philippians 1: 9-11

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Please check our website, for the latest news from Faith House. The blog will be updated on that site from now on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


The beginning of March saw an agreement signed by the political leaders in Kenya, and a lessening of tensions in the country. In Faith House, all the girls have returned safely from their upcountry extended families and are back in their schools. Violet was our last girl to return.

During one of the evening devotions after all the the girls were safely home, Gretchen asked them to share what God had been teaching them during their time away. Violet's story was sobering but surprising in many ways. Violet is Luo. Her home is Kisumu in western Kenya, a town which saw much violence and hostility during the post-election upheavals. Most of the time Violet simply stayed inside, not daring to be on the streets. But one day she had to go out, to the market, to buy food for her family. The people in that town had developed the practice of carrying photographs of one of the candidates for president to prove that they were Luo and were supportive of the Luo candidate, something like Jews being required to wear yellow stars during WWII, except that these photos were for self-protection in a volatile environment. Violet did not have the photo and was immediately surrounded by people demanding to know where her paper was and who she supported. Failure to prove her loyalty could have meant physical attack or even death. But in the face of the mob, Violet told the angry accusers that she was Luo and it didn't matter who she supported because God knew and He was in control, and she didn't care if they beat her or not. She reported that one guy did hit her but a group of mamas were there, surrounding her, telling the men to stop because Violet was right.

The Lord's hand was certainly seen in His amazing protection, but He was also seen in the courage He gave Violet. She has struggled with telling the truth, especially when truth means confrontation. It has been so much easier to make up a story that keeps her from having to face difficult situations. Not this time. This time she faced attackers and spoke the truth and trusted God, no matter what the outcome.

We sometimes wonder if there is growth in our girls. And occasionally the Lord gives us glimpses of what He is doing in their lives.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


In 2000 the U.S. presidential election was very close with the results contested and sent to the courts in Florida. Kenyan people watched the process and asked, "How could your country avoid riots and chaos in such a disputed election?" To Americans, used to seeing difficult issues settled under the rule of law, the questions were hard to understand . . . until the Kenyan elections of December, 2007. Because of the controversial tallying procedures and widespread claims of fraud in an election in which the announced results were very close, Kenya has experienced violence and upheaval that has left thousands homeless, nearly 1000 killed.

This week, Thursday, February 7, the last of our girls, Violet, returned to Faith House from what were supposed to be Christmas holiday celebrations with families in their upcountry homes. Today, Gretchen, our resident director, was due to be back in Kenya. The girls have returned to their schools and life seems to be almost normal. But we can't help but wonder what scars have been left in the memories of these young women.

At the very least, they have watched T.V. news showing their country torn apart. One girl reported that she was safe but she "worried where we are heading. Please continue to pray for peace and calmness." Others in relatively safe places remained glued to video clips of the violence, trying to comprehend that this could be happening in their beautiful, stable country. One of our girls watched as members of a particular tribe were dragged off of a bus to be beaten, simply because of the tribe of their birth. Another told the story of her grandmother's home being burned. On at least two occasions, Kikuyu mobs swept through Mwiki, the town in which Faith House is located, looking for Luos and Luhyas-- Mwiki is largely Kikuyu. Hellen, our national assistant, is Luhya . . . her young daughter was terrified, afraid for her life. The family slept very little those nights, wondering how secure their gate actually was. But even as Hellen sent SMS descriptions of the events, the stories were grounded with "we are trusting God for all of this" and expressions of confidence that God had hidden them when they had to walk through mobs, almost as though invisible.

When Juliah returned from harrowing experiences fleeing from her home in Eldoret, hiding for some days in the police barracks, being taken on evacuation bus from Eldoret to Nakuru, and finally being able to return to Faith House, she was told that her Mwiki "family" had been watching the events on the news. "But did you see," she asked, "the heads of people who had been hacked to death?" I pray for forgetfulness . . . no young person should have to live with such memories.

Violet was the last of the girls to return to Faith House. Her home is in far western Kenya where the violence has been most intense. For several weeks we were out of contact with her, wondering if she were okay, praying. Two weeks ago she called . . . she was in Nakuru but was unable to come to Nairobi because the buses would not travel through Naivasha . . . too much fighting. On Thursday, Violet finally reached Mwiki safely. The SMS read, "Girls are screaming because Violet just arrived home now. Glory be to God!" So many miracles in that simple message . . . of course, there is the miracle of safe return . . . but there is also a miracle in the fact of the girls' joyful screaming: Violet is Luo. Most of the girls in Faith House are Kikuyu. Though the violence in Kenya has been largely along tribal lines, these girls live together, work together, play together, pray together, study the Bible together. They struggle, sometimes, to deal with their normal "sisterly" conflicts and to solve their problems peacefully. And in the process, the girls of Faith House have learned to love each other. They are learning that they are truly one body, one family in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Update on the girls--Ann Mumbi and Anne "Orange" said they would be coming home today. Anna "Banana" is coming tomorrow and little Margaret is coming on Tuesday. I am going to call Jael's dad again tonight and Violet to see how things are going. I still have not heard from Veronicah and Catherine, but they are in quiet areas as far as we know (and phone credit is very scarce in the rural areas of Kenya). Juliah is safe in Nakuru and may stay a few days before coming to Mwiki.

Went to church this morning with all five girls and Susan. A lot of time was devoted to the current situation in Kenya, and to prayer.

NOTE: Please continue to pray for Kenya. Another protest rally is scheduled for Tuesday. Any mass gathering has the potential of exploding again. And there are widespread shortages of food and water especially in the areas of the country hardest hit by the violence.

Friday, January 4, 2008


An update on Juliah—she is on a bus to Nakuru, which is quite close to Nairobi. I'm not sure if she will be staying there with some family or coming to Mwiki right now. But she is safe and out of the area of violence. Also, Grace is back at Faith House. She was with her family close to Mwiki, so she didn't have to worry about finding transport.

Margaret, Sabinah, and Damaris all came home today! I cannot tell you the joy I felt when I saw them. It was like I was able to breathe again knowing I had more girls safe at home. I now have 5 with me and I'm waiting for 10 more.

I also heard from Violet! Praise God! She is safe and doing well, but fighting continues in Kisumu so they are staying inside. Plus there is no transport right now. I will check with her every few days to make sure she's doing ok and to see when we can get her back home.

I have not been able to contact Margaret, Veronicah, Catherine, Ann M., and Mercy, but Grace just went to check about Mercy at her home. And I'm waiting to hear more about Jael from her dad. Anna B is coming this weekend as well as Anne O. Julie will try next week.

NOTE: As tensions begin to ease it is tempting to think that there was never really much danger. News agencies move on to cover other, more explosive stories and we who have prayed, have a tendency to relax. But not all the girls are home yet, tribal animosities are not resolved, and Kenya has not settled the election issues which started the violence. Please continue to pray for the country and for our girls. And thank you for the prayers already offered, which have been heard.


It has been a relatively quiet day. Yes, the rally did not take place and the police were "successful" in keeping protestors outside Uhuru park. I've heard of two being killed. One was electrocuted on Thika Road when a policeman fired a warning shot in the air and cut the wire and it fell on a man. Tragic. Then another one was shot in Mombasa, I believe.

Speaking of Mombasa, Jael is in that area--in Voi, I think. I spoke with her dad and he heard from the cousin she's staying with a few days ago, but his phone is now blocked. Her dad said he would keep me informed. I heard from Peninah that Julie will stay upcountry until next week as transport is very high right now. I am praying hard for Violet since I have no way of contacting her.

I'm praying that God would bring all the girls home by next week so I can feel comfortable leaving for the US on Thursday.

Hellen heard from a friend of Juliah's in Eldoret. He is going to look for her and her family in his car. Hellen says he's quite well off so is staying at a hotel. Hopefully he can connect with Juliah and her family and get them somewhere better than the police station. I have been scared for her.

Yeen Lan has offered a number of times for us to stay at Rafiki if we need to. I haven't felt like that needs to happen. Jane M. and I feel pretty safe. Hellen's Rebecca is pretty terrified and I know Hellen was pretty shook up after the mob was coming after people of her tribe. As we were watching the news coverage today, Jane said "it doesn't even look like Kenya." And Hellen said that walking downtown with all the police made her feel like it was Sudan.
Thank you for all your prayers. We are hanging in there. Oh-- Zippy returned today so she is home safe too.

One by one the Lord regathers His precious children.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Hellen heard from Juliah's brother in Nakuru. Juliah and the rest of her family have been reunited and are safe at the police post. Praise God!

For your information, when Juliah, who is an orphan, needed a safe home during her time as a student at Rafiki, Hellen opened her home and "adopted" Juliah into her family. Juliah accepts Hellen as "Mum" and calls Rebecca, Hellen's daughter, her sister. Hellen is Luyha and Juliah is Kikuyu. Those two tribes are in conflict with each other during the post-election instability, but in our Lord's miraculous ways, Juliah, Hellen and Rebecca have become one family in Him.


The only girl with me right now is Jane. I've cautioned the girls who were going to return, to wait if they are in a safe area, since there was a riot in Mwiki yesterday. A Kikuyu mob were finding Luo and Luyha families and beating them. The families fled to the police station for protection. I found out today that Brenda (one of our graduates from the Rafiki Girls Centre, and a Luo) was one of them. Hellen (our indispensable national assistant at Faith House) and those in her compound were up all night New Years Eve waiting to make sure they could get out if they were targeted. I didn't know all this until today.

Hellen and I were able to get to Village Market today to buy groceries, get phone credit, and use the ATM. I was so thankful the ATM was working. I pulled --ksh for this next month while I'm gone. But that trip is up in the air as tonight is the last night the airport will be open until . . . only the Lord knows right now.

Hellen heard from Juliah last night and we need to pray. She and her family were forced to flee their home to escape the danger. She and her sister, Esther, are together, but they were separated from theirs brothers. Juliah was crying and scared, but I believe was safe at a police post. We have tried to call all day, but her phone is off. (NOTE: Juliah's home is in Eldoret. If you have followed the news perhaps you have seen that Eldoret was the city in which the church was burned with many killed.)

I don't have a number for Violet, who is Luo, either and she's in Kisumu, which is another hard hit area. I've tried to connect with each girl that I have a contact for to make sure they are safe. And I know that there is hardly any phone credit to find so I'm trying to remember that "no news is good news."

Tomorrow Raila Odinga (the presidential candidate who is disputing his defeat) has called for a rally of the people in Uhuru. Of course the government has said it is illegal. We don't know what will happen, but everyone has been told to stay put. Yeen met with US Embassy Officials to get the official scoop and its a little disconcerting to hear talk about IF there's an evacuation. I don't know if I could leave my girls. But I don't think its close to that and the Embassy said the same thing.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


In the aftermath of the recent Kenyan elections, the country is experiencing unrest and instability. Please pray for the Lord's protection over Faith House, and over Gretchen and the girls. Several of the girls have traveled to their "upcountry" homes during the Christmas break. Pray that they would be protected as they return to Nairobi, and that they would be wise in knowing when to return. Thank you for your prayers in this very critical time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


In the week following American Thanksgiving we decorated the Faith House Christmas tree, such a big part of Christmas for Americans, Gretchen (Faith House Director) and Jane (visiting from Texas). To our girls the tree with its decorations, was a fun new puzzle. In the absence of fresh trees on lots in shopping centers, we have an artificial tree in three pieces, bought for around $30, five years ago, not exactly the designer tree so familiar in our American homes. But how do we put this thing together???

To the girls, the tree was a challenge, . . .

the strings of lights were a tangle, . . .

and decorations were new adventures in classy jewelry.

Jane Mwihaki stood back, watching, and asked, "What is the origin of this custom, this decorating of a tree for Christmas?" I asked her if this activity seemed strange to her. She nodded with her dimpled smile-- "It's my first one!" I tried to explain the symbols to her, the evergreen tree because Jesus is eternal and brought us the gift of eternal life, the lights because Jesus is the light of the world, the stars because a star led the maji to the place where Jesus was. Some of the decorations I couldn't explain-- they are just decorations, somewhat synonymous with Christmas in our western culture.

But when we took out the pieces of the intricate banana fiber nativity which one girl scrutinized carefully, marveling that Kenyans are so creative . . . when we laid out the nativity, at least that part made sense.

Each night we sing traditional Christmas carols that tell the story of the baby Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, and discuss what it means that God Himself came into the world. We marvel and try to understand more deeply that ultimate gift that God gave in sending His Son. And Gretchen and I pray that in meeting some western traditions for the first time, the girls will not forget the miracle of this glorious season.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


From October 22 through November 12,2007, Agnes Nyambura and Damaris Njoroge will take eighteen exams covering everything they have learned during their years in high school, to complete their work in Danana Girls Secondary School and the Kenyan national exams. Reaching this huge milestone has been something of a miracle for these two girls, a dream come true but never really believed.

While they were students at Rafiki Girls' Centre, the dream began to gain substance, but the process has not been easy.

Damaris grew up in the crowded "suburbs" on the outskirts of Nairobi. She is the oldest of eight living children-- two siblings died at birth or in childhood. Damaris has been a stabilizer in her family. Her home is one room or maybe two, in a compound shared with other families around a common courtyard. Private spaces where a growing young girl could study and learn and develop are non-existent. And yet Damaris did well in primary school, and was eager to go on. One of the most crushing blows of her young life came the day she was told by her mother that there was no money for secondary school. Secondary schools in Kenya are not free-- even public schools charge school fees which are prohibitive to a family struggling just to feed the children. Damaris began to search for other ways to continue her education and found Rafiki, which was a pre-vocational program in her town of Mwiki. Training in Rafiki and meeting American missionaries ignited in Damaris a desire to learn more English and so she struck a deal with her aunt: she would work as a house-girl in exchange for money to pay school fees to take classes each afternoon. What began as classes in English expanded into a high school program in a small private school in Mwiki. Damaris' schedule was not easy: she did chores in the early morning for her aunt, then attended classes at Rafiki, then went to classes at Mwiki Mixed Secondary School in the afternoons, then went to her aunt's house to cook and clean until late, and then grabbed a few hours of study before some moments of sleep. And yet, she remained at the top of her small secondary class through Form 1 and Form 2. As graduation from Rafiki neared, the big question loomed, "What would she do next?"
Agnes grew up in a tiny village clinging to the steep foothills across a valley from Mount Kenya, the third of four children. Until Agnes was eleven years old she was raised by her grandmother, her mother living in the town of Nyeri, not present in the lives of her children. Agnes' primary school years were broken by blocks of time when her grandmother, needing help in the shamba (vegetable garden), had the children miss school to work. No one expected Agnes to do well on her KCPE exams at the end of primary school, but she surprised herself and her family with marks that would take her to a good secondary, except that her family was not willing or able to provide school fees. Angry at the lack of family support, Agnes left home when she was fourteen, taking a succession of house-girl jobs, always searching for the path that would take her to school. Before she found that path to school, Agnes found the Lord whose hand was on her, who would personally take her on her next steps. After introducing her to the living God, her boss introduced her to Rafiki. Soon she began a schedule similar to Damaris: matatu (bus) for an hour each morning, studying on the way, Rafiki during the day, late afternoon classes, matatu home, using travel time as study time, then work for her employers until time for sleep. And she also did well in class. As time for graduation from Rafiki neared she was asked what she would do next: "I don't know. . . maybe I will have to go home."

Both girls longed to continue their education in a real boarding school, where learning was the focus, but they could see no way. Prayers were offered, "What's next, Lord?" . . . "Where?" . . . "By what means?" . . . And the Lord drew attention to a small inheritance in a trust department in the US and whispered, "Use this . . ." With the Lord's gentle pressure, and with the kind acceptance by Anna Ndonye, founder of Danana Girls' Secondary School, the education component of Faith House Ministries began.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The facets of Faith House Ministries actually began in the dreams and needs of three Kenyan young women, with the ministry bearing the name of one of those girls.

Faith was one of the first group of students in Rafiki Girls’ Center, Nairobi, nineteen years old, a very talented young painter and a deep, sweet Christian. During the three years she was in Rafiki she had shared her heart’s desires: she wanted to get her Kenyan ID so that she could get a job (“Any kind of job, Mrs. Jane, even cleaning or being a house girl!”) so that she could have a house of her own, a BIG house with many rooms so that maybe she could take in girls like herself. She did not want anyone to have to live as she did.

Faith was an orphan. When her parents died, she lived first with an older brother and his wife, but found herself locked out of the house many nights. She was not a particularly welcome resident in their home. She next moved into the home of another brother-- a ten-by-ten corrugated metal room shared with her brother, his wife, and their two children. A curtain down the middle divided “living room” from “bedroom/kitchen.” The toilet and shower were down a walkway, shared with I’m not sure how many other families. Many days, Faith’s only meal was the lunch with fellow students at the Rafiki Girls’ Center. When it rained their place flooded and Faith arrived at school soaked through, always smiling. I once asked if she were warm at night . . . She said “no” and I dreamed of gathering blankets for her family.

From the rainy season in April, Faith had struggled with persistent laryngitis and cough, which Dr. Dan treated in one of the Rafiki clinics. She seemed to be much better, but just could not stop herself from singing and praying. She said that when she prayed her voice got stronger.

As the June/July break approached, Faith reported that she wanted to go “upcountry” to see if she could find the documents that were required to prove her citizenship and get her ID. That would not necessarily be an easy or straightforward task. Faith’s mother had two husbands, one of them twice. Proving identity in Kenya requires that some of the names on the documents match each other. No two of Faith’s documents had matching family names. In fact, Faith had become so frustrated with her background that she had chosen her own last name, Faith Mercy Awour, and that name appeared on the baptismal certificate.

Her journey was to take her first to the family home near Kisumu in western Kenya, and then to Eldoret. In one place she would get parent documents, in the other, the school-leaving documents and test scores. Apparently she arrived in Eldoret, still very sick. She died the night before she was to return to school. At first the diagnosis was “malaria” but we were later told that she had taken her own life.

Perhaps her lingering illness had her down. Perhaps she was overwhelmed by despair over her living conditions. Perhaps she just could not face returning to that one room. Perhaps the dreams seemed like exercises in hopelessness. But Faith’s death magnified a need that had become more and more evident to those who worked with and loved the girls of Rafiki: single young women in Kenya simply were not safe.

In John 14, Jesus told His followers, “In my Father’s house are many rooms . . . “ We trust that though Faith did not live to see the dream of her big house, a place where she would not be trouble to anyone, a place where she would be safe and loved, she how has a room in her Father’s house. At present Faith House itself does not have MANY rooms, just enough for 14-18 girls if bunk beds fill the spaces efficiently. And the home of which Faith dreamed now bears her name, Faith House, offering shelter to other young women who need hope.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


In Africa, school fees often prevent students from completing high school, or sometimes even elementary school. Faith House Ministries
is presently sponsoring eight girls in boarding school at the secondary level.
From left to right:
Margaret WW is in Form One (Freshman) and is #3 in her class.
Juliah is in Form Two.
Jane is in Form One and is #1 in her class.
Damaris is in Form Four and will complete her exams in November. Agnes is also in Form Four, finishing in November.

Tabitha is in Form Two

Zipporah is also in Form Two

On September 1 Grace joined the other girls in Form One.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Currently there are 10 young women who live at Faith House, though the number swells to 15 or 16
when the boarding school students are on breaks.
Pictured from left to right,
BACK ROW: Jael, Susan Nderitu (a dear Kenyan friend and advisor), Perpetua (in catering school but not in residence at Faith House), Anne, Catherine, Margaret W.,
Sabinah, Ann (aka "Anna Banana"), Jane Pope (USA advisor);
FRONT ROW: Gretchen Bartlett (Faith House Director), Ann Mumbi, Mercy, Julie, Violet


How do we explain what Faith House is? It's a safe house, a shelter, a home, so much more than a building . . . Faith House is a Christian ministry designed to be family for African young women who have not known peaceful home situations, and to provide opportunities for education and training for these young women, who would, in many cases, be struggling to survive.

As in ideal families, Faith House seeks to provide a setting in which the young women are nurtured and encouraged to develop their full potential. In a home environment, they learn family dynamics, receiving training and encouragement to live together at peace and to solve problems with creativity and forgiveness. They are valued and learn the value and dignity of individuals. They are treated with respect and learn to treat others with respect. They see honesty, stewardship and gracious manners modeled, and are trained to make such values a part of their lives.

The young women who are a part of the Faith House Ministries are given opportunities to continue with academic and/or vocational training according to their individual gifts and interests. In some cases, the education will include provision of boarding school and perhaps even university education.

Faith House Ministries seeks to invest in the lives of African young women in such a way that they will become self-sufficient contributors to the welfare of their families, their communities and their country.