When was Emmanuel born? Christmas day – of course.

Maybe we don’t know the exact day of our Lord’s birth, but Emmanuel Namunyu was born on December 25th. And he just recently died.

I know many of you have prayed for him and support Emmanuel’s Kids (thousands of AIDS, famine and war orphans in Kenya). I was asked recently to tell more about him so maybe this will help you know him better.

Emmanuel was a great husband, father, educator, minister, and so much more.

He was named appropriately. When Emmanuel was in our presence, we were reminded that God was with us.

He saw the world differently. There was a gleam in his eyes that was absolutely unique. It seemed that he was seeing things that other people were missing. His look was otherworldly. It was as if he were seeing into a realm of God that the rest of us hadn’t seen yet. And now he sees the Master face to face.

Emmanuel is with Emmanuel.

Let me tell you how I met Emmanuel.

I was sitting in a CRF clinic that had just opened at the Ring Road Orphan’s Day School in Kisumu, Kenya. I was told that a man had made a very long journey to meet with me because he heard that I helped children.

He told us that he was a former schoolteacher and had started a little school that he called Eruli School. He told the story of how he was personally trying to take care of 126 children who were AIDS orphans. He had a small pension from teaching school and a little farm. But with the famine, his crops were just not enough to feed the children. As a result, the children were starving. He did not know what to do with them. So he continued teaching them about Jesus and praying. It was hard to believe the incredible story of “Emmanuel’s Kids.” So I checked with Jared Odhiambo who had been there to confirm if his tale was true. It checked out. It was true.

With much remorse, I told him that Christian Relief Fund was not expanding and starting new works. Because of the great recession in the United States, we had lost sponsorships and money. As a result, we were trying to get new sponsorships for old works and children rather than for new kids. So basically, I told him “no”.

Then he thanked me. E ven though I didn’t help him, he thanked me. And he asked if he could pray for us. He said that it must really be hard for us in the United States. So he prayed fervently that the Lord would bless us and help us through all the hard times we were going through in the U.S. Our bad times were nothing in comparison to his—but it didn’t matter to Emmanuel. He was gracious – and thankful.

Then I remembered his name – Emmanuel – “God with us.” It was as if I was looking into the eyes of Jesus. It was totally what Jesus talked about in Matthew 25 – as you do to the least of these, you do to me.

That’s when I realized that when you help Emmanuel Namunyu, you are helping Jesus.

I have never seen anyone on this earth more like Jesus. I have never met anyone who cares for children more than Emmanuel. When I last preached at Eruli, I said that Emmanuel is the hero of Africa. And he is my hero too.

CRF has changed. We help “Emmanuel’s Kids.” His ministry has expanded to touch thousands of orphans. His work may have been slow in starting but now it is among the biggest of the Christian Relief Fund works around the world.

His ministry will continue long after his death. He told me that his desire was to give the leadership of his ministry to his son, Wesley. Wesley will continue to walk in Emmanuel’s footsteps. I believe in Wesley and know that we will see Emmanuel’s ministry continue in the same direction.

Most of all, Emmanuel taught me how to give thanks. When I didn’t help him, Emmanuel gave thanks. When I ultimately helped him with his many children at Eruli, he gave thanks. When I came to visit for the first time, he had all the children say “Thank you” to me over and over again. It must have lasted for 10 minutes. When I last heard him speak at church, he came to the stage and said to me,“Thank you.Thank you a hundred times. Thank you a million times. Thank you a trillion times.”

In the future, I am going to close my letters with “Thanks a trillion times!” in honor of Emmanuel. I want to remember to be thankful, and I want to remember Emmanuel.

Thanks a trillion times, Emmanuel!
– Milton Jones, President, CRF