This week I have had the privilege of co-hosting Charles and Esther Mully, the parents of the Mully Children's Family in Kenya who are visiting the valley.
The Mullys are mom and dad to more than 2,100 orphaned children that they serve at four sites in Kenya. When you visit, as I did in 2006, it is obvious that there is something very different about this home which has a unique family atmosphere in what could easily be an institutional facility.
Charles overcame a brutal childhood with a drunken father who regularly beat his mother. He was abandoned him at age six and managed to survive by bouncing from relative to relative. By the time he was 16, as he told a group of ministry leaders this week, he was ready to commit suicide. A friend invited him to attend a crusade and he accepted Jesusthat decision started to turn his life around.
There were still desperate times such as when at age 18, he walked more than 50 miles over four days to Nairobi. He had had nothing to eat or drink for days and knocked on the gate to a large home and asked for work. The woman agreed to let him wash dishes and weed her garden and his fortunes started to turn.
That humble start led to a full-time job and then he founded his own transportation business with a used pick-up truck. He met Esther when she was 16 and they got married when she was 17 and he was 21. Over the next 19 years, they had eight children and Charles' businesses flourished. He was living a dream as a nationally known business leader until God broke his heart over the plight of orphaned children.
At age 40, he committed to rescuing street kids and using his fortune to give them a future and a hope. That was 24 years ago. With five of their own kids working with them, the Mully Children's Family has become the model with high-performing schools (preschool through secondary and national championship sports (karate).
It is substantially supported by an extensive commercial agriculture operation that includes exporting tons of green beans grown in huge greenhouses weekly to Germany and the Netherlands as well as selling vegetables, fruit, tilapia and chicken in local markets. Depending on the season, more than 1,000 local people80 percent womenare employed.
Charles has built both his private sector business and his children's home despite completing no formal education. He has designed all of the buildings on the two sites southwest of Nairobi and has developed a holistic program for children that prepares them to be productive citizens.
Another remarkable point: Kenya has 42 tribes with many speaking their own language. Six years ago, the country was racked by horrible tribal violence as one tribe was perceived to have stolen the national election and the long blades came out seeking revenge. Members of all 42 tribes live peacefully as brothers and sisters at MCF.
Charles and Esther are making their first visit to California this week. Charles will speak Friday evening at 7 p.m. at a dessert gathering at Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore (a mission partner of Mully Children's Home) and he will be part of both worship services Sunday at Centerpointe Church in Pleasanton. The public is welcome to attend any of these events.
To read more about Charles and Esther, please see the web site www.mullychildrensfamily.org or you can order the book about his life, Father to the Fatherless, at Amazon.