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Zainab's Story


Zainab's Story


My name is Zainab Precious Umara and I am a Sierra Leonean.  I was born in a village called Morkaba to a very poor family.  I was the first born and the only child to live here.  We moved to another village where my parents would be able to farm.  It was here that my brothers were born.  We stayed there for quite a long time. One day when my youngest brother was about three months old my mother felt very sick.  My father took her to a nearby village to see the local witch doctor.  He treated her but she grew continually worse.  On one early morning she jumped on the bed that she was laying in, screamed out of her mind and gave up her last breath.  Our father died three months later and life became more difficult.


My grandmother took us in and we lived with her for three good years.  When I was nine one of grandmother’s nephews came and took me to Freetown, our capital city.  He left me with a woman who took me in and loved me as her own.  She took great care of me and everything was good and the future looked bright. I began attending school in Freetown at the age of 10 and I was put into grade 2 and sat for the national exam at the end of the year.  I scored the highest out of all of the children.  My teachers grew to love me for my hard work and effort.

However, for some unknown reason the woman I lived with grew to resent  me.  She stopped sending me to school with lunch and I went to bed with an empty stomach on most nights.  Life became dismal living with her.  I don’t know what caused her sudden hatred.

I grew stubborn and began sleeping on the streets and doing anything to get some food.  One day the woman took me back to my grandmother’s village.  My grandmother was forced to take me in, even though she was unable to care for both my brother and I.  At that time I was 14 and in grade 5.  It was here that I first met Pastor Francis Rogers.  He enlisted my brother and I into his feeding program and planned to move us into an orphanage he was building.  God had other plans for us and allowed a fierce storm to destroy the orphanage building and delayed any consistent care.

In 2008 I was in grade 6.  We had nothing or very little to eat.  My grandmother loved us, but had no good means of taking care of us.  I began hanging out with the wrong group of people.  I attended church only to get some food or financial assistance from the congregation.  My outlook on life was poor and I chose to sleep with a boy just for money.  I know God allowed me to get to this point in my life to bring me to my senses so that I would commit myself to following Him.

Ephesians 6:13 says “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

James 2:26 says “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

James 1:6 says “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he that doubts is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

Luke 15:17 says “And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough to spare and I perish with hunger.”

When I read these four scriptures I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.  I am thankful to the Lord for making me who I am today through all of the struggles I faced. Since then my story has drastically changed.  I am now a new woman according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”  I grew spiritually each day and began serving the Lord.  God brought David Tanner, Phil d’Entremont, and Karen and Sandy Baird into our lives.  These individuals set us in a direction that God ordained.  Two children’s homes have been built, a fresh-water well has been installed, communication with Christians in America has been established and relationships are growing and giving us further hope.  We all attend school and we receive medical care.  All of this has been done and accomplished through the love of Christ and to the glory of God.  The Sierra Leone Project of New Hope Initiative has become a beacon of light in our dark country.  This project has led many to Christ and is a witness to all of His love.

I thank Pastor Rogers for all he does for me and all the children in the home and in the surrounding villages.  He has become my mentor, given me the name Precious, and is training me to be the future orphanage director.  When my grandmother passed away, he wept with me for days.  I also thank New Hope Initiative and all those contributing to our life through finances and prayers.  We would not be where we are without you following God’s will.  May God bless you all.

By Zainab Umara


A Change of Heart in Kenya


A Change of Heart in Kenya


On Thursday June 13, my thirteen-year-old daughter, Abbi, and I anxiously boarded the airplane in Dallas, Texas. Neither one of us had ever been to Africa let alone crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Our trip was filled with everything we expected and numerous unexpected events as well. For the past several years our church, The Oaks in Grand Prairie, has participated in giving to Project Biashara. The ladies of our church have specifically been drawn to this unique ministry. Our intention was to go as a survey, with the hopes of establishing a future trip for our church in the summer of 2014.

If you are going on a mission trip it is important to remember to plan for the unexpected because plans will change. In route to Nairobi, Kenya, one of our planes was delayed by four hours causing us to miss the next leg of our itinerary. After several phone calls and new flights we landed in Kenya.

Due to our delay, we missed the first part of the trip that Sandy and Karen had organized for us.  This meant that we needed to join with another church. We were both a little nervous and bummed because we did not know anyone.

Midway Church from Aubrey, Texas, welcomed us with gracious arms and made us feel like we were a part of their church family quickly.  God knew that my daughter needed the experience of other teenagers on the trip with her. Thank you Midway for being a Godsend in the middle of Africa!

As a pastor, I was looking forward to speaking in a foreign country with an interpreter. However, with the flight delays those plans evaporated. Honestly I was a little disappointed, but quoted a popular saying, “This is Africa,” and moved on.

On Sunday we had the privilege of worshipping in Kibera with some of the participants of Project Biashara and the New Hope School.  I had no idea how God was going to move. It was a divine set-up. God had so orchestrated the events for our trip so that He could speak into our lives.

People and children began to overflow the church building with laughter and excitement. The girls were excited to touch and pull my daughter’s curly hair. To my amazement, Abbi picked up a little child. She quickly sat the kid on her lap and hugged her.  I was impressed and for a moment I was awe struck- that was my little girl.

During the worship service, there was a little girl who was playing on the floor in front of me. Abbi encouraged me to pick her up and immediately my inner struggle began. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. This little girl appeared filthy and I was clean. My daughter continued to say, “pick her up.” I replied, “she is okay, she is having fun.”

Finally, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me go, so I picked up the little girl and she was wet from soiling herself. I sat her on my knee and then to my excitement she wanted down. Just as I was putting her down, Abbi, reached out and picked her up. Immediately she sat her on her lap and began hugging her. I was shocked, humbled, and convicted. Secretly, I was glad that was over.

We stood back up to sing and little boys grabbed my hand. This was good. I could handle this. In my mind I thought I was doing great.  God and I had a good conversation during the current song. I apologized for being such a snob and asked God to forgive me. There was even a commitment to pick up the next child without my daughter’s prompting.

As we sat back down, a little boy with his enormous eyes looked up at me and I picked him up. Not even thinking about it I hugged him. One member of Midway’s team got up to sing a special song. The lyrics of the song talked about how much God loves us. After the song, one of the pastors from Midway began to preach. He began talking about God’s love as well.


Right then the little boy relieved himself and it began running down my leg. When he finished, he cuddled up next to me, laying his little head on my chest. I hugged him. God whispered into the depths of my soul, “I see your filth and yet I welcome you in. I love this little boy. I love you.” I am not a crier and not driven by emotions. There in that little church tears began to flow down my face.

God had a message for me and it took me getting out of my comfort zone and being willing to do something different. I am so thankful for Karen and Sandy and their New Hope Initiative. They are doing great work. Lives are being changed for the better. If you get a chance to take a trip with them, please don’t hesitate. Who knows, God may have a special message waiting for you in Kenya!

By Heath Marion