Ten years ago, the bloodiest conflict since World War II was raging in the Congo.
The never-ending civil war was marked by an unimaginable level of brutality and violence with more than five million dead. The country was ravaged by rampant disease and starvation.
Sephora was brought to an orphanage and placed there by her mother in a desperate attempt to protect her from being killed by the guerillas. The villages were being ransacked and burned, little girls and women raped and scores of innocent people killed. Her mother felt this was the only chance for her baby’s survival.
Sephora is a talented little girl. She learned to braid hair beautifully and sew beaded purses to make money for the orphanage so that the children could be fed. However, she remembers not having much to eat and always feeling hungry.
She was given adult responsibilities and forced to grow up early.
When Sephora turned eight, she was assigned two babies to care for in the orphanage. She fed them, bathed them and changed their diapers. In recalling this experience, she said, “You don’t get much sleep with babies. They keep you up all night, especially two of them.”
She said, “I was so tired…always so tired.”
A Bible, that she cherished, was given to her by some missionaries. Many of the pages are turned down, and it is filled with her hand-written notes.
Even though she was made fun of by the other children and staff members, she read it every day and learned that God was a father and mother to her. They would say to her, “God does not love you. Just look where you are. You are ugly and nobody loves you.”
One night, Sephora was extremely tired because one of the babies was sick, and she cried out to God in prayer for Him to help her. And the very next day, she was told that she was being adopted by a family in America, and she knew that God had answered her prayer.
In Africa, Sephora had often been very sick with malaria and suffered from chronic ear infections which resulted in significant loss of hearing. Sephora spent most of her first year in America in a hospital, where she underwent three surgeries on both ears due to bone deterioration and perforations caused by years of infection.
Unfortunately, for various reasons, the adoption by the American family did not work out, and she was recently placed in our care.
We have found Sephora to be one of the sweetest children we’ve ever had at the Mansion.
She’s still learning to like American food, as it is drastically different than what she was used to in the Congo.
Sephora loves God with a passion like you seldom see in a 10-year-old child and is bold in her testimony of how she loves Him and that He loves her.
She sings about Jesus all the time in her native Lingala language. You can find her kneeling every night beside her bed and praying to God like He is her best friend. She reads that well-worn Bible with all those notes every day!
Learning English has been a challenge because of her hearing loss. She struggles to hear how to correctly pronounce the words. She will come to her housemother each morning with a list of words she read in her Bible the night before that she wants explained to her.
Over and over, Sephora has told us that the Mansion is the best place she’s ever been. “It’s like Paradise here,” she says.
When a new child arrives, she is quick to assure them, “You are going to love it here. God is here and everyone is so nice.”
She asked the other day if she could stay at TCM until she is 18 if she works hard like she did in the Congo.
A few days ago, Sephora had the best experience of her life when she was gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit.
As I write this annual “Christmas in July” letter to you, let us be reminded of why Jesus came: “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16).
Loving and giving is what the true spirit of Christmas is all about, and it’s not just something that we celebrate once a year in December but throughout the entire year — even in July.
We began our Christmas In July Appeal many years ago out of the desperate need for funding during the summer months when our income is typically at its lowest.
However, as all of us know, the needs of these children — as with all children — are year-round.
Will you help us today with a special one-time gift to our Christmas in July campaign?
Your donation will enable us to continue to care for Sephora and about 50 other children at the Mansion, the most we have had in a good while.
Please don’t wait. Your help is urgently needed now!
Whatever you can give will be appreciated very much and will help to defray the summertime expenses of caring for the children.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing with us in this, the Lord’s work!
Sincerely on behalf of the children,
President and CEO
P. S. Your special Christmas in July offering, regardless of the amount, will make a big difference in the continuance of this vital ministry, especially at this time. Again, on behalf of Sephora and all of our Mansion Kids, thank you so much!