by Milton Jones

I don’t know how trees grow in deserts. But I love seeing them. They remind me that there is still life in the driest places. 

As I was driving through the desert of Turkana, my driver kept stopping and showing me their church buildings. However, they really weren’t buildings at all. They were meeting places. In reality they were trees. On one stop, our driver was commenting on how nice a particular church facility was. I looked and saw a tree, several logs elevated a few inches for sitting, and a drum. It was the home of a dynamic church. I wondered if we spend too much on church buildings in the United States. 

Francis Bii, our CRF director in Eldoret, exited our vehicle to show me the grandeur of this church site. He sat down on the edge of the slightly elevated log and went topsy-turvy. And he broke his arm. The intensity of his predicament was heightened by the fact that we were 15 hours away from a doctor. It was a painful trip for Francis.

“The same way a single tree can shelter many people, a single gift can transform many lives.”

My most memorable experience with a tree was in that same desert. After drilling a water well, planning a farm, and beginning a church plant—I took a walk with the local chief. We walked up to a tree in the desert. About 200 little children were sitting under the tree. I asked the chief who they were. He told me that they were famine orphans. I then asked why they were under the tree. “I dumped them there!” he said. With total confusion, I asked, “Why would you dump them there?” His response;  “Where would you have dumped them?” I had never been asked a question like that before. Eventually he explained, “I dumped them there because I thought you would help them if you saw them.” And of course, CRF did.

I want to be like a big tree. I was so honored when Emmanuel Nmunyu renamed me. Emmanuel is our late director of CRF’s ministry in Bungoma. He is a patriarch and a spiritual legend. But he liked to give people nicknames. He called himself  “hyena.” He called our Kitale director, Jason Beagle, “dog.” And he called me “Simotweet.” A Simotweet is one of the largest trees you will ever see. I was honored.

Don’t you want to be like a big tree? Indeed, I think that CRF donors are like big trees. You provide shade and shelter for little children. As a single tree in the desert shelters and transforms many lives, your single deed of sponsoring a child or drilling a well transforms countless lives.