When God decides to change the world through one person, He rarely tells someone: "you are now going to change the world." He usually just says, "pick up the phone and call someone". "Feed someone". "Do this one thing."
I've been thinking about that recently with my trip to Kenya. Charles Mully, who started the Mulli Children's Family 20 years ago, has an amazing story. You can read the whole thing in the book Father to the Fatherless (which I highly recommend), but let me summarize. When Charles was 6 his family abandoned him. They moved in the middle of the night, and when he awoke, they were gone. He tried to feed himself by going to neighbours and grandparents, but they had no extra food, either. So he fended for himself.
At age 18 he made his way to Nairobi, where he got a menial job for a family. The wife was impressed with him, and asked her husband to hire him in his company. He started at the bottom, and began to save money. Soon he had enough to buy a bicycle, and started a delivery service. After this he bought a van that became a taxi. Then he bought another. Then another. Soon he had a fleet of buses, and he was the sole representative for Firestone tires in Kenya. He had a business empire, and he was very wealthy in his 40s.
He had 8 biological children who went to good schools. He had three homes and two Mercedes. Then one day, on a trip to Nairobi, some street kids offered to look after his Mercedes while he went into a meeting. He refused. When he came out, the Mercedes was gone.
He couldn't get those kids out of his mind, because he knew that he had been a street kid himself, too. And three years later, he felt God clearly telling him to sell everything to look after these children.
So after a long struggle, he did. He started bringing kids in from the street, and they shared his biological children's bedrooms. Eventually he had too many and he had to build a bigger complex. His money began to run out, but foreign donors found out about him.
He began a process of working towards self-sustainability. Today his home has about 1500 kids that live their permanently, and 500 day children in other locations. He has a huge farm which provides about 50% of their food, and which also exports french beans to the Netherlands for cash. They have a fish farm and a poultry farm to provide the kids with protein, but also to sell to hotels in Nairobi for money. They employ about 500 local women working on the farms, and give out emergency food relief to the community. They have one of the top schools in the country, and their karate team is the reigning East Africa champions. They are starting a microbusiness program to help girls who have been rescued from the sex trade learn a valuable skill and then start a cooperative business together.
And right now they're working on a water treatment plant that will let their kids have clean bathing water (they already have clean drinking water), but will also provide clean drinking water to the community.
It's an amazing enterprise, and it keeps growing. But I don't think he had all these plans in his head the moment he began taking kids in off the street. God just asked him to do it, and Charles did.
I got to know Lilian while I was there. She's 30 years old now, and married with several children. She works as a cook at the home, and her husband is a carpenter. We taught her how to use the knitting machine, and she's a riot! Here's the sweater she knit:
But best of all, she was the first girl that Charles rescued, all those years ago. She's doing so well now. Charles took her in, and he didn't know it would lead to all the rest. God doesn't tell you all the plan all at once. He just asks you to do what you can at the time, and it grows from there.
On our way home from Nairobi we had a six hour stopover in Amsterdam, and Rebecca, my 15-year-old, and I decided to take the train into the city to see the Anne Frank House. You can't take pictures inside the house, but we actually walked through the bookcase that hid their annex, and I stook in Anne's room. I saw all the clippings of film stars with which she adorned her walls. I saw the pencil marks in the living room marking how Anne and Margot grew over the two years that they were hidden.
It's a tragedy that she died, but a miracle what has happened with her diary, and how her story has touched so many. But her story was only possible because four Dutch people decided to risk their lives and help them. They sent food to them. One man provided Anne with film star magazines every week. Miep helped Margot take a correspondence course in Latin. Such little things to help a family make life bearable, but they did it. Miep was an amazing woman; she died recently, and I saw this video of her on YouTube (click on the bottom right for subtitles):
She probably didn't think she was changing the world, but she was. By keeping the Frank family hidden for that long, Anne was able to write her diary. And now look what has happened.
And then I read the story of Jaime Escalante last week. He's the teacher from the movie Stand and Deliver, who quit an important job to teach calculus in an inner-city LA school. He had enormous opposition, but he did such an amazing job that many kids who would otherwise not have had a future went on to win scholarships to universities. Eventually he was TOO successful, and the teacher's union kicked him out because he was willing to take on classes with too many kids and teach harder subjects than they wanted him to. But for those few kids, he changed their lives.
He was just doing what he knew how to do. He was using what God had given him. And he made an impact.
Charles Mulli, Miep Gies, Jaime Escalante. They changed the world not because they woke up one day and said, "today I will make a huge difference", but simply because they walked in obedience in the little things, and God multiplied them.
My mind is full of these three today, and I wonder what "little things" God is asking me to do. Perhaps I should spend more time listening, because you never know how God wants to use what He has already given you.
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.