When Martha Mude, grandmother to 6 and the wife of a former diplomat, informed some of us at Karura Community Chapel that she was collecting food to feed starving people in her hometown, and that she was riding in a truck over 18 hours to personally deliver it, she made it sound like the most natural thing in the world.  With an endearing combination of passionate concern and unassuming simplicity, Martha has a way of taking ordinary concepts, like “love your neighbor” to extraordinary lengths.

WND: We’d like to hear about your story and your passion for the needy, but first please introduce yourself and your family.

MM: My names are Martha Lalo Mude.  I was born into a Christian family of 10 children, and I’m the fourth born.  I got married to a man from Marsabit of my own tribe.   God blessed us with 5 kids: 2 girls and 3 boys, and at this moment, 6 grandchildren.  So I’m so grateful to God.

WND: Tell us about Marsabit, the town, the district, and why you have a burden for the people here.

MM: Marsabit is my home.  I was born here 63 years ago.  I was brought up on Marsabit Mountain where it was a green place with forests.  We can grow any kind of food and fruit trees.  But as you go out of Marsabit (town), it gets drier and drier and becomes desert.  Marsabit is the biggest district of Kenya, and it is the most dry.

My father and a few others were the pioneers here.  They came from southern Ethiopia and they settled here in Marsabit.  We are a farming, agricultural tribe, called Burrji.  And the others are nomadic tribes who are around Marsabit.

I went to the Christian missionary school here for class 1 and 2.  The missionaries came in the 20th century and converted quite a few people here.  Then I went to a government school for class 3 and 4, and I went to another district for intermediate school.  I qualified to go to high school, so I was there for 4 years and completed high school.  I had done well on my exam and I wanted to continue with education, but I couldn’t.  I went to Nairobi, but my father could not afford for me to go to school.  So that is how I opted to just be employed.

WND: How did your desire to help Marsabit begin?

Martha takes a break from sorting donated clothes before distributing them to the orphans.  When older women showed up, she started pulling clothes out of her own suitcase to give away.

Martha takes a break from sorting donated clothes before distributing them to the orphans. When older women showed up, she started pulling clothes out of her own suitcase to give away.

MM: I desired to study community studies, to come back to Marsabit and serve the community because there are so many needy people.  I’m the first girl from Marsabit to go up to high school, so I wanted to come back to help, especially girls, because the culture was demeaning the girls so much.  When you reach 14 or 15, you are just married off without you even making your own choice.  It’s the families who choose.

WND: Your work and your family took you around the world.  You say that exposure increased your desire to help Marsabit, so tell us about your time in the United Arab Emirates especially.

MM: My husband joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He was to be posted outside of the country as a diplomat.  And so we had to get married very hurriedly.  I left my job and joined my husband who was posted to what was then Zaire, but now is the Democratic Republic of Congo.  So that is how I left my service and joined my husband.  For several years we were in Sweden, Ethiopia, and Australia.  And then our last station was in UAE, the United Arab Emirates.  Fortunately, there was an international Christian church, so we went to that church, and we learned more about the Bible and about our Christian faith.

And just one day, there was a burning within me, this desire of mine just became on fire!  God put in me the vision to serve the Lord, the desire, after the way that He placed me (around the world) over all these years, to go and serve my people.  I said, “Lord, use me as your instrument because you have done so much for me, and there are so many needy people.  How can you use me to help them?”  I was out of my country, and I could see these first world countries where people are so rich.  And the Emirates, they are so rich! They have petrol, and I could see the abundance of their wealth!  And I could see the people at home are so poor.  When I came home, my heart was broken.

WND: Now that you’ve retired and you’re back in the country, based in Nairobi, and there’s been a drought in Marsabit for 3 years, what is your vision to help?

MM: My vision became more urgent now at this moment because my children have grown, they have all gone out of the house, thank God, and now they are all working.  I said, “This is the time.” And because of this drought which has been in Marsabit for a long time and which has devastated the people.  The animals have died, and there is an acute shortage of water.  What of these ordinary people? The poor people who have no income to buy the water? And then also, food: the government gives food, but the food which reaches the very poor man, it is not in a form for eating.  If he is given just maize and beans, you need water and firewood, to cook that.

Once the feeding program in Marsabit was underway, Martha took joy in inviting strangers to come over for a meal, such as this elderly woman (center) who had approached us on the road for help.

Once the feeding program in Marsabit was underway, Martha took joy in inviting strangers to come over for a meal, such as this elderly woman (center) who had approached us on the road for help.

So I’ve just been suffering inside.  The water is not there.  People bring water from very far in a lorry and sell it very expensively.  I have seen mothers who wake up at 4am and go looking for water in a very dangerous environment.  They go and can come back home empty.

So I thank God I was enabled now to mobilize other people, churches, to come together to help me to come here to start a home, a feeding program where I get these destitute, the very needy people, together and take care of them.

WND: Now tell us what you’ve done this first week on the ground in Marsabit.

MM: The [Karura Community Chapel] congregation contributed some money, and well-wishers, and a few relatives.  They gave me some money, clothing, and also we bought some medicine with the help of the church.  We have now started to put this program into action, to get these destitute children together, and it has been successful.  We started the first day with 34 of them.  We washed their legs and their hands, and we gave them meals.  They are infested with jiggers, which was very shocking, so we applied jigger medication.

WND: And we’ve seen quite the transformation!  By the fourth day, how are they doing?

MM: Yeah, a great transformation!  The children are so happy, so grateful, and they are just overjoyed.  Today was a great success because we gave them an entire bath, and we treated the jiggers and dressed them with the donated clothes.  One destitute lady who was here was singing and clapping her hands, and said (to her grandchildren), “you have come from darkness to light…now you are a light!”

Before leaving Nairobi, Martha could hardly contain her excitement at seeing her dream finally realized.

Before leaving Nairobi, Martha could hardly contain her excitement at seeing her dream finally realized.

We really thank God.  God has made us successful, and we have hope for the future.

WND: What do you hope to see in the future for this project?

MM: Now we are going to form this organization, called “Partners in Action for the Needy.” So we’ll look for financial support, and material support.  And I have hope that we’ll make a big change in the life of these people.  We have even planned to have a home where we give them all care, and then we take them to school.

WND: So for a final question, what advice do you have for those people who have a dream to act on social justice issues in their own cities?

MM: I think God expects of us to help our neighbors, and more so the needy.  So please just release yourself and share and just love your neighbor.  If we love God and we love our neighbor as the commandment of God, I think you cannot really see your neighbor hungry and sick, and not attend to them.  And especially as the Lord has said, “Whoever does good unto the little ones, it is like doing it unto me.”  And he says, “Let the little ones come unto me.”  It is about bringing up these small ones in the way of the Lord and helping them grow in that way.  It will make a big impact for them to experience the love of God by others sharing.

It is really fulfilling.  It’s a great happiness, when you really help.  And you know that the sacrifice is really worth it.  That is how Christ is really.  If we are truly children of God, we should be like Christ himself, with that love, to be able to share.

Through the generous support of her friends and family, Martha is now renting a home to serve as a care center for needy families in Marsabit.  Members of Karura Community Chapel in Nairobi are currently fundraising to ensure the Partners in Action for the Needy continues its food support and jigger treatment programs.

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About the Author: Jessica Shewan is a journalist with World Next Door. She graduated in 2009 from The University of Evansville with a bachelor's degree in History. She loves making new international friends and is passionate about seeing the global church pursue justice and peace!

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Comments

  1. Dave Rod said... 

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    November 17th, 2009 at 6:08 pm  

    Martha challenges us – “So please just release yourself”. Wow, release myself. Now I have to think about that…from what? What have I bound myself to? by? for?

    Thank you Jess, thank you Martha. You inspire me!

  2. Nick said... 

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    November 18th, 2009 at 4:04 am  

    Hi, I loved the article and Martha’s spirit. True, this is the time! Id like to contribute even if its in a small way to Partners in Action for the Needy, how do I go about it? God bless

  3. Bill Shewan said... 

    Reply

    November 18th, 2009 at 11:34 am  

    Very inspiring to see Martha’s faithfulness to her calling, then to see her dream come true with such impact. It hit me that her joy (from her success) can be so easily shared – by me so far away. This is a central aspect of partnership, and partnership is central to building the Kingdom. Thank you Jess.

  4. Jo Nading said... 

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    November 18th, 2009 at 6:48 pm  

    I’m with Dave – that comment “so just release yourself” really hit me. Freedom to serve those who need freedom from injustice. wow. I now understand more fully being free to love, free to serve – and what happens when I am not free. Thanking God for all the Marthas who live in that freedom…and for those who lose a little shackle weight with each act of love and kindness and service from these Marthas.

    Thanks Jessica, for introducing us to Martha and then letting us see more deeply into the heart that drives her.

  5. Jim M said... 

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    November 19th, 2009 at 12:52 am  

    “My vision became more urgent now at this moment because my children have grown, they have all gone out of the house,”….oh how I understand this. As Erwin McManus writes “God calls us out of the life we have known, and into a life we have never imagined.” Martha lives into this in a way that we all could learn from. Thanks Jess.

  6. Jessica Shewan said... 

    Reply

    November 19th, 2009 at 10:03 am  

    Thanks Nick (and all the rest of you!) for your interest and comments. Martha is currently working through Karura Community Chapel to connect supporters with her projects. Right now, they are organizing a jigger eradication project for the children in her program. You can email info@karuracc.or.ke for more information!

  7. Aunt Ruth said... 

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    November 23rd, 2009 at 12:06 pm  

    Jessica-
    Thanks for the invite to meet Martha and hear of her faithfulness. Just yesterday we heard of another gal who spent just month in Africa helping at an orphanage. The message of light in darkness is so powerful. I am moved to reassess how Jesus light in me is dimmed as I hold on to “stuff” and neglect to give – physically, spiritually, mentally! Thank you for faithfully sharing all you’ve been learning.
    Love – Aunt Ruth

  8. Kate Wood said... 

    Reply

    December 3rd, 2009 at 12:00 am  

    You’re incredible, Jessica! This is really inspiring. Plus, I’m super jealous of you! Sounds like you’re making the most of life. Don’t ever lose your spirit :)

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