It was Monday morning, May 12th, that God reminded me of what He requires of me to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. He did this through an encounter with a new friend, Emily Cheptum.
When I woke up that morning, it was not in my plan for the day to visit Cheptum. Juli had planned to do so and invited me to come along. We had heard about Cheptum through a doctor at a nearby clinic who asked us to follow-up on her case: 17-year old diabetic; untreated to the extent that it has caused her to go blind; unstable home.
Two years ago she completed 5th grade but was unable to continue her education due to her untreated diabetes. The doctor wanted to start her on insulin; however, he was concerned about her home situation: 2nd born of seven children, alcoholic father and mother, mentally challenged and crippled 1st born child, no one to take care of Cheptum. Those were the facts we knew going into the situation though none of us knew exactly what to expect.
As we traveled 20km to the base of the beautiful Kaptebee mountains to reach Cheptum’s home, the beauty of the surroundings were about to collide with the darkness of what we encountered inside the home. We parked the car near the home, got out of the vehicle and did not see anyone around. However, immediately we heard the piercing cries of a young girl. With no one around to welcome us, and cries coming from inside the house, we welcomed ourselves into the home where we found Cheptum.
She was lying by herself on a bed, crying in intense pain from the fire she was feeling from her calves down to the tips of her toes. Though unable to see us or recognize our unfamiliar voices, she showed no fear in allowing us to come inside. We began asking her questions and she quickly answered each one as the tears continued to stream down her cheeks.
“Where is your mom?”
“Washing clothes at the river.”
“Where is your father?”
“I don’t know. My father drinks and when he comes home drunk, he beats me. In his drunkard state he asks me, ‘Why don’t you just die?’ I answer, just leave me to be with my Jesus.”
About 10 minutes later, Cheptum’s mother, Priscilla, arrived. Slowly more children entered the room along with some neighbors whose curiosity was aroused by our visit. Before asking more questions to gain a better understanding of this desperate situation, Stone (ELI Anti-Alcohol staff member who had joined us) asked if he could pray. He was given permission.
I was sitting on the bed, and not knowing what else to do, I tried to comfort Cheptum (and admittedly myself) with a soothing touch. As I put my hand on her back to massage, I was disturbed to feel every bone—every single rib could be counted. She seemed to be wasting away from a combination of the diabetes that is eating away her body along with the lack of nutrition from no food being present in the home.
Stone came close to Cheptum, put his hand on her head and began to pray in his mother tongue, Nandi. “Kiptayat Jesu,” my Saviour Jesus—the tears fell from my eyes. I did not understand every word he was praying, but could sense that he was powerfully interceding on Cheptum’s behalf, asking Christ to intervene and heal her, to have mercy on her. When he finished praying for her, he walked over to Chebet (Cheptum’s older sister who is mentally and physically handicapped and the mother of a baby boy) and continued to pray for God’s intervention, healing, and mercy.
The tears were flowing down the cheeks of Priscilla, their mom, as well. Justice and mercy. My heart was moved, for lack of better words, by my encounter with Cheptum and her family that day.
On the drive home, we debriefed about our visit and I began to feel anger in my heart. I was angry at the way Satan entangles people and binds them into destructive things like alcohol until fathers and mothers cannot even care for their own children.
I was angry at the way Satan can use people to abuse an innocent young lady like Cheptum’s older sister—a girl who cannot defend or speak for herself.
Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He was speaking from Isaiah 61 where it also says, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
Let it be so in Cheptum’s life. Even in the life of her mother, Priscilla, her father and her six siblings. As we left her home that afternoon, all I could say to Juli was “Lord, have mercy on them.”
We left Cheptum and her family that day with no answers, only a prayer for God’s justice and mercy, which did not seem like enough. We knew what God required of us—to be moved to act; and so we sought wisdom from Him and from our team.
Two days later, after consulting with ELI Directors, team members, government officials from Cheptum’s location, Cheptum’s family members and neighbors, we agreed to bring her to our center. For the last two months, a team of unbelievably loving individuals have spent their days and nights caring for Cheptum.
Our social worker, Ruth, has learned to give Cheptum injections of insulin in the mornings and evenings. Juli has created a special menu to help regulate Cheptum’s blood sugar levels. Karemi (one of our Home Based Care clients) has diligently spent her days cooking these special foods for Cheptum. Others have stayed up all night comforting Cheptum because of the extreme fiery pain in her legs and feet. Cheptum’s younger sister comes on the weekends to take care of her.
All of these people remind me of the verses in 1 John 3:16-18: “And by this we know love, He laid down His life for us and we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. If any of you has this world’s goods and sees your brother in need and turns from him, how does the love of God abide in you? My dear children, let us not love in word or in tongue but in action and in truth.”
It is a simple yet challenging message.
We are continuing to love and care for Cheptum until she is strong enough to go for an eye operation, which God-willing, will allow her to see again. Please pray with us for the following:
- Cheptum’s evening sugar levels to stabilize so she can go for an eye operation.
- Wisdom for how to empower her family members so she may return home after the operation.
- The chains of alcoholism in her mother and father to be broken. Her father recently came to visit her and asked for help with his alcohol problem.
- Complete healing, especially the pain in her legs and feet. I believe the heart piercing cries we heard that day when we arrived at Cheptum’s home are the cries that God hears all the time. The cries of His children do not go unnoticed. The cries of His children should not go unnoticed. Let us do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.