Irene Wangeshi never knew her father. She was raised in a Kenyan village by her impoverished single mother—who tragically died when Irene turned fifteen. Irene’s grandmother, with whom she lived after her mother’s death, died shortly after Irene graduated from high school. With no living relatives remaining, Irene found herself alone and destitute. She moved to the capital city of Nairobi where she found a job working for a wealthy family as a house maid.
Lonely, vulnerable, and without the wise counsel of a loving family, Irene met a young man and married him. She discovered too late that he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the result was a roller coaster ride that lasted a decade. Three children were born into their marriage whom Irene watched suffer under her husband’s abuse. When she could take it no longer, she divorced him. He ultimately died from alcohol poisoning. Alone again, Irene did her best to feed her children, but there was never enough.
God, however, who specializes in redemption, had His eye on Irene. A caring Christian neighbor invited Irene and her children to a Sunday celebration being held at a local house church. Touched by the sincerity and love showered upon them there, Irene responded to the gospel and was transformed that very day by the Spirit of God. She knew that she had become a member of a loving spiritual family. They began helping her as much as they could, but most were also struggling for basic necessities.
I learned about Irene from her pastor, one of our trusted contacts in Kenya, and my husband and I met her in February while visiting a number of Christian widows who had received small business start-up grants via Heaven’s Family’s Widows & Abandoned Women Fund. I was not prepared, however, to see Irene’s “house.” It was a tiny, one-room, windowless, tin shack with a dirt floor, constructed on property owned by her church. As I sat inside that shack with Irene, it was hard to imagine how she and her three children could all fit. Yet Irene was bubbling with joy and life.
Irene’s pastor requested a grant on her behalf so that she could open her own small grocery store. She was approved on the spot!
Irene has since opened her store, and her pastor has sent us some photos. She is now completely self-supported, because of the compassion of everyone who has given to the Widows & Abandoned Women Fund. Thanks so much. “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).