{Telling Stories} Wells of Joy

 In the fall of 2008, my husband and I happened upon a little home group through The Village Church, back during the early days of our marriage, in Flower Mound, Texas.  God began weaving a story in our lives that day that changed us for the better.   Josh & Charelle Raybuck are not only warm, loving friends and followers of Jesus, but they have taught me much about  generosity, sacrifice, and obedience.  They are bold and daring, focused and diligent on building the piece of the wall God has set before them.  I am so thankful for Charelle as a friend and mentor.  Here is her story of hope in Kenya.


It all began in the Fall of 2010 when Afshin Ziafat   preached from the book of Jonah during Mission’s Week-End at The Village Church.  The Holy Spirit used that sermon to spark a desire in my husband’s heart to go on a short term mission trip for the first time to the people of the Amazon River. Instantly, the flicker of international missions was lit in the Raybuck household. Out of obedience, Josh traveled to Brazil, ministered to broken men, and experienced God’s voice and presence on the world’s second longest, dark river. God grew his faith, and by extension my faith, during that season. At the time, we had NO IDEA just how deeply and to what extent Afshin’s missions message had impacted us.

Charelle & Josh
Bob and Julie Mendonsa were a couple at The Village Church who had taken their two children to Kenya as long-term missionaries. I had gone to the sending service where we listened to the events surrounding their decision to go and sent them out as a community. It was only for a couple of years and we would see them again!  Now, a few years later, they were not only staying in Kenya permanently, but they were building Naomi’s Village, a children’s home in rural Kenya as a response to the orphans crisis they witnessed in their new “home” land. That’s when I began to sense a stirring in my gut to go to Kenya – a country I knew nothing about and could not locate on a map. However, I heeded the internal mysterious yearning and submitted my application to TVC Missions Team to be a  candidate for the short-term June, 2012 Kenya team. Kenya. It was so far away from my family, unlike Brazil. However, I figured if Bob and Julie could leave Flower Mound, TX with their kiddos and not return, I could go for 10 days!
Did you know, that everyday in Kenya, 700 children become orphans? [from www.naomisvillage.org]
 Through a series of prayer saturated events, in faith I confidently committed to going to Kenya with a team of 18 others – all strangers being knit together by God in love and obedience to His call to “Go!”. After 20 hours of flying, we were on the ground. I found myself questioning God, “What am I doing in Africa?” I was there. I was seeing. I was hearing. But why? Was taking the good news of Jesus’s love to the orphan our family decided to sponsor at Naomi’s Village  and the poor really my purpose? With a humble heart I met 8 year old Catherine. We bonded over homework, shared meals, and bedtime prayers during our 8 days together. We traded giggles, gifts, and smiles. God’s love knit our hearts together, and I would leave a piece of my heart in Kenya with an orphaned girl who was now mine!
Mary & Catherine, daughters of the Raybucks, living at Naomi’s Village
Little did I know that sweet Catherine was not the sole purpose God had in mind as He drew me to the land of the Masai.
Near the end of our time in Kenya, our trip leaders took the team to the Lunga Lunga slum in the heart of Nairobi’s  industrial center. Lunga Lunga lies just behind an impenetrable iron gate that keeps out spying eyes, while hiding the travesty of the poorest of the poor. Within this “gated-community”, shoeless school-aged children run unattended. Within this “gated-community”, drugs & alcoholism run unabated. Within this “gated-community”, live society’s unwanted. Here, hope seemed to disappear. Our team entered a small corrugated metal structure that served as Wells of Joy church on the  week-ends and a school for 100 (many refugee) children Monday- Friday. They sat on the dirt floor in a room with a single light bulb as its source of illumination. How could any of these Kindergarteners learn in this environment? How could any of these third-graders be inspired to dream under these conditions? No books, no school supplies, no food! Their only provisions were porridge and the coloring books and crayons, toothbrushes and tooth paste our team brought. This was the seed of hope and the ever so dim light God was birthing in the darkness of the slums. It was in those hours spent behind the iron wall that God answered my heartfelt inquiries: THIS is why I brought you to Africa.

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. ” (Psalm 82:3)

From that July, 2012 moment, God has cemented the plight of those 100 children in my heart, burdening me with a responsibility to tell others and to do something about their safety, their education, and their future.  He brought me to Kenya to see through His eyes what He sees each day. He brought me to Kenya to act with compassion and in a faith-filled response to His word…. Go! Defend! Uphold! Look after! 
The Raybuck family: Ryan, Charelle, Josh, John, & Braden
Nearly four years later, my husband and I humbly serve on the board of Wells of Joy, Inc., a U.S. charitable operation devoted to supporting the work of rescuing children in the Lunga Lunga slum from sex trafficking, feeding and clothing them, in addition to meeting their healthcare needs.  Our team seeks to defend, uphold, and look after the now 250 children of Wells of Joy and its staff, because “now that I have seen I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead!”   – Brooke Fraser’s lyrics from her song Albertine.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….” James 1:27
Team Raybuck has visited Kenya the last four years in a row.  For three of those trips, Josh & Charelle were able to take along their two oldest boys, Ryan & John, who are now hooked for life.  This July, seven-year-old Braden will join the team in Kenya for the first time!

About amy

Wife, boy mom, child of the King. Lover of coffee, fonts, words, tacos, and leggings.