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In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that following him will not always be easy. He used the reference to fire to describe the difficulties we may face when following him. Fire is frightening because of the great harm it can cause. In a similar way, we can be frightened at the prospect of making difficult or challenging decisions.

The road that Jesus took was full of hardship and sacrifice, and it will be no easier for those who follow him. It takes a strong will, unwavering faith, and steady courage. But this is the road that will lead us to eternal life with God.

Mary, who lives in a rural community in Kenya, was overjoyed when she gave birth to her first child. Amos seemed healthy and happy at first. But then, six months later, Amos started experiencing high fevers and sleepless nights. Scared for his life, she took him to the hospital—a full day’s walk away. There he was diagnosed with meningitis, which had by then caused irreparable damage to his spinal cord and brain. Amos would never have full control of his movements, and he would be unable to walk or speak.

Amos loves his mother.

Amos and Mary at home, 2017

In poor, remote communities around the world, children with disabilities and their parents face indescribable hardships. Proper resources, education, and specialized care for the disabled are inadequate or nonexistent. In addition, many people believe disabilities are caused by witchcraft, evil spirits, or even a family’s bad luck. As a result, disabled children are treated like outcasts.

Living in extreme poverty, Mary was overwhelmed by distress and doubt, knowing she would never be able to afford the round-the-clock assistance and specialized care that Amos required. The best she could do was put him down on a blanket, or carry him in her arms. When Mary had to go to the market or go gather water, she was often forced to leave Amos alone inside their single-room, mud-thatched home. Facing stigma and discrimination in her village, she felt helpless.

When we first met Amos in the fall of 2017, we were struck by his bright, happy disposition. We spoke to his mother and learned about the many challenges they faced. Despite the seemingly endless struggles, Amos always had a beautiful smile on his face.

We shared Amos’ story with our generous community. Thomas from Ohio saw this smiling child and decided to become Amos’ Angel Investor. Thomas’ monthly support allowed our team to immediately coordinate access to a wheelchair for him, making life much more comfortable for him and easier for Mary. Amos laughed as the team pushed him around in his new chair. Mary couldn’t contain her tears of joy.

Amos and his wheelchair the day it was delivered

Amos and his wheelchair the day it was delivered

Our social worker, Joseph, didn’t stop there. He felt Amos deserved to get an education, so he worked tirelessly to find a school for children with special needs in Kenya. After a few long months, Joseph found one that was accepting new students, and helped Amos’ family to apply.

Amos was accepted into a boarding school for children with special needs in the summer of 2018. In September 2018, for the first time in his life, Amos went to school. Now when you see Amos, you not only see a smile, you see pride, hope, and dignity.

Today, Amos is one of the most loved children at school, among both teachers and students. Amos has full-time care, specialized therapy, education and a community of classmates. His teacher, Madam Ann, is committed to his development and is walking with him on this journey.

Amos is pure joy. We all love him. —Madam Ann, Amos’ teacher

amos and miss ann

Amos and his teacher, Madam Ann

Amos also benefits from the care of a nurse, David. For medically complex children like Amos, nurses provide 24-hour assistance to make life more comfortable and dignified.

Amos and his nurse David in Kenya

Amos and his nurse David

Amos is making incredible progress with the support of his teachers, nurse, and friends. He is learning to feed himself, communicate more effectively, and ultimately, live a much happier life. Amos’ journey is only possible because of the selfless love and support of a whole team of people, starting with his Angel Investor Thomas, who have come together, from near and far, overcoming obstacles to help him.

“I am so proud of what my boy has become.” —Mary

Following Jesus might be hard sometimes, but making good choices helps us be closer to God and have peaceful hearts and minds. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of courage so we too may take the “road less traveled” and do the right thing.

In grace and peace,

CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide

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