This past summer my daughter and I had an opportunity to visit Kenya. While there, we were apart of a team composed of Americans and Kenyans that put on a Creative Arts camp for teens from the slums of Kibera. We partnered with a local ministry called Homecare Spiritual Fellowship. Homecare Spiritual Fellowship is lead by an amazing woman. Her name is Judy Mbugua. I’d like to share some of her story with you.
She was sixteen when she met the man of her dreams. She had decided to end her education, opting to get a job as an untrained teacher instead. When this handsome beaux made his appearance, she lost sight of everything except being with him. Soon she was pregnant and not long after the first child, she was expecting a second. Her family refused to allow her to marry the man of her dreams. They were so determined to prevent this marriage from occurring, that they moved far away from him.
At the age of eighteen, she ran away from her parents home in order to marry her sweetheart, Richard Mbugua. Unfortunately, the painful realities of life quickly began to surface. Judy had to leave her teaching job in order to be near her husband, leaving them with only his meager salary. They could barely meet their basic daily needs and yet their family continued to grow.
After about two years, Judy began to have some serious questions about life. Being with her sweetheart wasn’t enough. She wanted more out of life. She wanted more for her children. Here she was a young mother with no skills or training, and with no hope of anything changing. Judy began to regret her decision to end her education early. Oh how she wished she had listened to her parents advice!
Richard and Judy determined that something had to change. Judy decided she wanted to receive secretarial training. It was decided that Judy and the children would move Kabete, near the city of Nairobi where she could attend school. She was determined to make something of herself.
She began to study privately for her secondary school certificate while simultaneously taking professional and secretarial courses. Judy describes this season of her life,
You should have seen me in those days. I started all of my studies at once. At this time I was expecting my fourth child. The others, all babies still, were often pulling at my skirts, while another would be hanging on my back. Admittedly, to state the least of it, it was a very difficult undertaking. But it had to be accomplished. So I devised a simple plan for my days such that my housework would take the morning hours while I would focus my attention on studying during the afternoons…I had to fight impending sleep which would threaten my concentration. I fought this through the harshest method–dipping my feet inside a basin full of cold water whenever I felt sleepy.”
Can you imagine that?!
But her efforts paid off! After two years, she attained her secondary certificate and continued to take professional courses. She spent every spare moment studying to the neglect of other relationships. All of this resulted in her first job–finally. She was accepted as a Junior Copy Typist and after a month of work, she received the equivalent of $4.50. Quite disappointing!
Judy was determined to do better. This meant working hard to improve her typing and secretarial skills. After receiving several professional certificates, and receiving several promotions, she eventually landed the position as the Executive Secretary for very high level officials in the Ministry of Finance!
Her little family wasn’t poor anymore! And yet Judy had developed an insatiable appetite for learning. Learning was now a lifestyle and she wasn’t content with simply settling for a “good job”. She continued to learn and grow.
All of this training prepared her for the work she really loves–the work she was born to do. She began an organization called Ladies Homecare Spiritual Fellowship, which started off as group of women who met together for prayer. She has been given the opportunity to speak all over the world and for several years she led an international organization that included countries from all over the world.
Though she never received a University degree, she has been in the company of world leaders! Yet, she gladly spends time with the poorest of the poor, speaking words of encouragement, and hope. I had an opportunity to witness this first hand. I saw her delight in the teens that we worked with in Kibera. I heard her challenging, and inspiring them not to allow their life circumstances to limit their future.
She challenges us all to,
” Never give up. Continue. We will not be judged by what we began, but how faithfully we persisted to the end.”
“God is a God of a second chance…God gave me another chance and taught me that problems can turn out to be opportunities.”
Yes, the odds were stacked against Judy, but she certainly broke through every obstacle with hard work, perseverance and a relenting trust in the God she loves and serves.
Read the book: Judy–A Second Chance for more of her inspiring story.