I thought at the time, some 15 years ago, that my daily radio broadcast was a failure. The church I was pioneering in Pittsburgh had paid thousands of dollars to buy months of airtime on our local Christian radio station. I taught for 15 minutes every day about repentance and true faith in Jesus. As a result, people were staying away from my church in droves. A few listeners even wrote the station manager, asking that my broadcast be canceled. I was “preaching a works gospel” they said.
As far as I can remember, my radio broadcast only added one person to my church. She was a young woman named Diane, and she was convicted of her sins by what she heard me say over her car radio. She repented, was born again, and became a faithful and active member of my congregation.
Of course, spending thousands of dollars to save one soul is worth it. But it is even more worth it when that one soul reaches others. Today, 15 years later, Diane directs Heaven’s Family’s Food Fund and Safe Water Fund, and she is involved in fruitful projects around the world, saving lives and souls. But it is all the result of sacrifices, first made by Jesus, and then made by other saints like Diane—who incidentally came to work full-time at Heaven’s Family without pay. Let me tell you about one of the life- and soul-saving projects in which Diane has recently been involved.
Early last year, we received several heartbreaking reports from trusted partners in Kenya about the famine that was raging across that country’s arid northwest region known as Turkana. Turkana people, including Turkana believers whom I had visited in past years, were dying for lack of food.
And so Diane went to work on “Mission Turkana,” first by posting a special project appeal on our website, and second by soliciting help in Kenya for food distribution in Turkana. Diane’s God-given goal was to supply a significant amount of food for 1,500 people living in 5 of the most remote, neediest villages.
Many sacrifices were made in response. Diane was able to raise a little more than $5,000, enough to purchase more than 4 tons of food. Even some poor Kenyan church congregations got involved, making even greater sacrifices, skipping meals for the sake of their starving spiritual family members in Turkana.
The Kenyan ground team ultimately consisted of five men, led by intrepid American missionary and dear friend of Heaven’s Family, Marc Carrier. The team’s mission would require them to haul food by truck on a rough desert road frequented by thieves who left no witnesses to their crimes.
Marc and his team were willing to take the risk, intending to travel only during safer daylight hours. However, because of delays, Marc and another team member, both no strangers to sacrifice, slept one night along the road under the stars. The truck transporting the food experienced some very close calls with bandits. But the Lord preserved them all.
After reaching the city of Lodwar, Turkana’s gateway, the team started daily treks by truck on roads that were only distinguished from the surrounding desert by faint tire tracks in the sand. At each village, under the shade of giant acacia trees, each family received a portion of maize, beans, rice, cabbages, salt, cooking oil and tea. Missionary Marc and team member Pastor Cleophas Makona preached what the Bible repeatedly calls “the gospel of the kingdom.” That gospel is not a call to acknowledge some historical facts about Jesus, but rather a call to believe, repent, and obey King Jesus, sacrificing for the sake of His kingdom.
The team’s arduous journeys were rewarded by the smiles on the drawn-but-joyful faces of hundreds of hungry and starving souls, thankful they had not been forgotten. Our friend Cleophas later wrote of what he witnessed at the most remote village, “Their condition was heartbreaking. We only wished we could have brought 10 times as much food.”
Months later, the Turkana church continues to send their thanks. On their behalf, thanks to all who sacrificed to save their lives.