Bringing Us Back to Mercy

How one Bible connected two women from across the world

Mercy kicks up dust on the Kenyan roads. After a three-hour bus ride, hopping onto a motorcycle taxi, and wandering through narrow streets of tiny villages, she is finally close to her destination. Some teens her age would have given up long ago—complained about the weather making their hair frizzy, wanted a snack, gone to hang out with friends. But Mercy is determined to get where she’s going. Because there, she gets to speak her story. There, she gets to tell you how the Bible you gave her five years ago changed her life.

Why Kim Went to Kenya

Kim, a fundraiser for American Bible Society, steps off the plane in Nairobi, Kenya. As a teen growing up in Minnesota, Kim dreamed of traveling as a photographer for National Geographic. Then she met Jesus, and her life took a different route. She wanted her gifts to be used for God’s kingdom, so she launched into a career of storytelling for Christian nonprofits. Here she is—in Kenya for the first time—a camera strapped around her neck, ready to tell you about what God’s Word is doing in Kenya. She sees the people bustling through the city market. She’s struck by the sharp scent of cumin stirred into a stew and the base, slightly bitter note of ugali corn porridge. The March breeze is cooler than she expected. She feels nervous, excited, and expectant. Here, she’ll get the chance to hear Mercy’s story. “Will she even remember the time my colleagues gave her a Bible?” Kim wonders. “It was so many years ago.” Five years to be exact. Kim has seen Mercy many times—in a photo of her holding her first Bible, which she received in 2013. “I thought it would it be cool to meet Mercy one day and ask her about her Bible,” Kim says. “I wondered what that Bible did to help her.”

Hearing Mercy’s Story

A phone call, bus ride, motorcycle taxi, and long walk later, Mercy and Kim meet. There’s no electricity at the orphanage, so Kim and Mercy meet in a dimly lit room. Still, Kim sees the same sparkle in Mercy’s smile that she’d seen in Mercy’s picture for all those years. She quietly thanks God for this moment, and then the two women sit: Mercy on the couch and Kim in a chair beside her. Mercy is shy and reserved at first, but she is also eager to tell her story. Kim turns the recorder on. Along with us, she is about to hear how one Bible gave Mercy the guidance she craved.

How Mercy Became a “Bible Worm”

Mercy’s story begins on the steps of New Hope Orphanage, where she was left as a baby. As Mercy grew up, she assumed that the woman who took care of her at the orphanage was her mother. Later, she discovered that her birth mother died shortly after she was born. She does not know who her father is. The woman Mercy calls Mom raised her with stories from the Bible. But Mercy never had a Bible of her own. She dreamed of the day she’d have a Bible to write little notes in and read whenever she wanted. She says the Scriptures “guide you in what to do, so you can’t get messed up in life.” Whenever she had the chance, Mercy would beg to borrow a Bible from a friend. She’d pore over the pages, seeking wisdom from the words of God. But these sweet stolen moments weren’t enough—she wanted more time to discover what God’s Word had to teach her. Then—during a Scripture distribution trip to Kenya in 2013—you stepped in and handed Mercy her first Bible. Mercy remembers the moment. She remembers holding her Bible close to her chest. She remembers smiling for a photo, clutching her prized possession—God’s words of guidance and love written just for her. From that day onward, Mercy cherished your gift to her. At first, she says, “I didn’t know [how] to read the Bible. I didn’t know how to connect the verses.” But then she remembered the first verse her Mom at the orphanage taught her. So she searched through her Bible for Jeremiah 29:11, found it, and memorized these words: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” God’s Word gave Mercy comfort when she needed it most in the orphanage. Mercy started reading the Bible every morning and evening. She stopped reading novels and storybooks because she couldn’t put her Bible down. “Some people called me a Bible worm because I would stay with my Bible,” she giggles. “Even at night, you can find it beside my bed when I’m sleeping.” As she read the Bible every day, Mercy learned what she craved to understand: how to live a life devoted to Jesus. Her life started to change. She obeyed her elders more. She learned how to forgive the other children at her orphanage. She discovered that God loves her more than any earthly parent could—and that he guides her as a parent would. “When you start doing such bad things, you just remember words that guide you, and you stop it and say, ‘My God is not happy when I do these things.’ ” As Mercy explored God’s Word, she learned that Jesus calls us to live in service of others. The more she read the Bible, the more she longed to love the most vulnerable people around her—including orphans like herself. Mercy plans to become a lawyer one day. “We are oppressed,” says Mercy, “Now I want to fight for justice for such people.” Mercy longs to fight for and comfort parentless children who might feel alone, rejected, and confused. She wants them to feel God’s closeness the way she does. “With God,” she says, “everything is possible.” Mercy knows her heavenly Father well. She trusts his plans for her. She follows his guidance to love people well. Thanks to you, his words for her will rest on her bedside table and in her heart for the rest of her life.

Just $5 Gave Hope

Your gift to Mercy changed Kim, too. It changed the way she thought of the power of a single Bible. “What one Bible can do is incredible!” Kim exclaims. “Just five dollars gave her hope, you know?” And Kim sees the value of her work even more. “The better I do my job, the better I can help another child on the other side of the world,” she reflects. Your gift to Mercy—one Bible given over five years ago—transformed the way Mercy and Kim experience God’s Word. You give more than Bibles. You give the loving guidance of a Father to a parentless child. You give the awesome reminder of Scripture’s power to those of us working alongside you. You give the hope and belonging that comes from God’s Word.

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

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