SERVING IN: Kenya, Africa
MINISTRY FOCUS: Mercy Ministry
Cheri Thompson and her late husband, Rick went to Kenya in 1987. Beginning in 1992, Cheri began working with street children in the slums of Nairobi. Ministry grew to a Sunday morning Bible Club and soccer club and then to a drop in center where over 50 street children came to receive a hot meal, medical care and learn about the love of Jesus. In 2003, Cheri opened Challenge Farm in Kitale, Kenya. Challenge Farm is “home” to over 170 children today. 24/7 care is provided for the once orphaned and abandoned children. Hot meals, medical care, counseling, education and technical and agricultural training are provided through the generous gifts of supporters and the child sponsorship program. Some of the current staff of 47 were once street children cared for at the Farm, who went on to University and received degrees and now work in administration, finance, maintenance and social work.
Today, situated on the ten-acre farm are girls’ and boys’ dorms and dining halls, kitchen, food storage, chapel, school (Nursery Class thru Class 8), library, agricultural dept. (cows, chickens, sheep, beekeeping, vegetable gardens), training workshop, soccer field, social work and maintenance offices, administrative offices and a guest house for visitors.
“I know that our Sovereign Lord is in the business of transforming lives and it is always a privilege to see it happening before our eyes. Praise God, it is happening at Challenge Farm.” ~ Cheri E., a recent visitor to Challenge Farm
Cheri’s son, Jeremy troubleshot our water and sewage system while he and his wife, Mary were visiting the Farm. We’ve had problems with the water and sewage, and with water supply shortages for awhile. Jeremy provided our maintenance team with probable solutions, and a written plan to implement along with regular preventative/maintenance procedures. Thank you, Jeremy!
Our verse for 2021! “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be enslaved again by a yoke of slavery”. Galatians 5:1 Since 2020 was a very tough year for many people and the children here, we chose this verse. The verse highlights our dependence on Jesus and His desire for us to be free – not to be fearful of a global virus, losing a job, or any worry of any kind. He has set us free!
January 13, 2021 ~ Happy Anniversary Challenge Farm! Celebrating 18 years of loving and rehabilitating the abandoned, orphaned, abused, and street children of Kenya! Since 2003, we have taken in 388 children (228 boys and 160 girls)!
God bless you this holiday season. May you be filled with gratitude for Jesus, family, friends, freedom of worship, food, and the gift of life! I thank you for your prayers, gifts, and friendship during 2020. You gave to the “least of these” and Matthew 25:40 says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Stay strong in the faith and encourage one another as we begin 2021.
Giving thanks for 2020! Even though it’s been tough with its many challenges, God has never failed us! We started 2020 with the children learning how to be overcomers from the example of Nehemiah ~ to pray to God for strength and for help in conquering their fears. Children and staff started the year off memorizing Nehemiah 8:9-10 “…the joy of the Lord is your strength!” We couldn’t have imagined what was ahead. But God knew!
We have 10 new bikes! The older children are learning how to ride bikes. This skill will benefit them as adults, as most walk or ride bikes to get to work. It costs to take public transportation (bodabodas). All of the girls got new skirts and crocs, and the boys new sandals. Their old ones were very worn!
This year for the children’s birthday party, we did something very special! The custom in Kenya is for the person who is celebrating their birthday to taste the cake first and then feed all the others at the party. When a child publicly feeds their elders or parents, it shows respect and love. Since we have so many children, we had just the smallest ones do this on behalf of the others. They fed the staff and then the staff helped to feed them, and then distributed cake to the rest of the children. The kids had so much fun smearing icing! They enjoyed popcorn, biscuits, candy, Simsim (sesame cakes), soda, and a special meal of rice, meat, and chapati.
COVID Update ~ Things are starting to open up a little in our area. More of our staff has now been able to return to their duties. The house parents (in our dorms) have returned to normal schedules. Social workers, teachers, and counselors are alternating in shifts, working from home and at the Farm. The kitchen and maintenance staff are still limited. The staff has done an amazing job through this time! Thank you for your prayers. We thank God that everyone remains healthy!
With just a small number of staff who are allowed to report, they’ve still continued to teach and engage the children in daily activities 7 days a week! They’ve held Mjadala (debates) in Kiswahili on: “technology has done more harm than good”, and “ancient life is better than modern life”. The children have learned how to weed the sukumi wiki garden, top dress bean plants, and make natural fertilizer; had prayer walks, Bible studies, relay races, personal study times and math exams, helped in the kitchen, and played soccer and Bible Trivia.
HOW ARE THE CHILDREN RESPONDING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS? WHAT ARE THEY LEARNING?
“God is the healer. God is our Protector. God is our Provider. God is answering our prayers. God is our great
“Prayers are very important …because many have turned to God. He is the only One who will rescue us…”
“I am learning and experiencing so many things like people helping the needy and donating food and many other things for them…our God is there to save us.”
“…when you pray God can answer you by healing people who are suffering…”
“Prayer is so important in our daily lives…He provides us with our daily needs …”
An update from Cheri Thompson – We wanted to keep you updated on life at Challenge Farm right now. Things have drastically changed. We are on complete lockdown. At this time only essential staff can report. Vital staff in each department have been asked to stay for one week on site – not coming or going. Some single mothers who are essential staff are allowed to bring their children. We are working with a very small number of staff.
This is extremely challenging. Another team will relieve them after one week and in turn, they will stay for a week.
The men will stay in the boys’ dorm and the ladies in the girls’ dorm. This is being required by the government to keep our children safe.