Opgaande zon



The story behind the 'Andreas Manna Foundation' in The Netherlands

By Henk van der Vinne

Childless

In September 1979, after we had been through a lot of research, a professor in the Academical Hospital told my wife Wilma and I, that the chance that we would be able to have children was less than one percent! He left only one percent open for a miracle! He told us that for some, such news means the end of their marriage, but for others it can be the start of something brand new! And it was his wish that we would belong to the latter group! This news left a deep mark on our lives together. Our lives became meaningless. We were beyond all consolation...

Day of our life

One November evening a few months later, very disappointed in God and the church, we went to a concert of a Dutch couple called Elly & Rikkert. The evening was organized by "Tear Fund," a Christian development organization for aid to the third world. Touched by their music, Wilma wrote a letter to Elly & Rikkert. Against all our expectations Rikkert wrote us back and invited us to visit him and his wife, Elly, in their private home for a talk. They lived not too far from the city where we lived, so we made an appointment by phone. Between Christmas and New Years '79/'80 we went to visit them, and spent the day in their home. That day became the most important day of our lives. We told them about our disappointments. They proposed to pray together with us. Despite some hesitations we agreed. From that moment on, our lives changed. The Lord took about two weeks to turn our disappointment into joy (Psalms 40:1-4).
In the first two years after this experience, Rikkert came to us for a Bible study every Tuesday. Together with his wife, they also started to counsel us. They primarily helped us to cope with our pain because of our childlessness. In those days God comforted us through the words in Isaiah 54:

"Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband, says the Lord. Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities... (1-3). All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace... (13)."

We found comfort in the certainty that we would receive something better from the Lord in exchange for children of our own: A comfort so deep, that it gradually gave us more peace in our heart with the situation of our childlessness. The Lord turned our bitterness into pain, and our pain into peace: Just like it is the Lord's will that some do not marry, in the same way it was His will not to give us children of our own.

Vision

One day in the spring of 1980, our good friends Elly & Rikkert were praying with us after a counselling session. During this prayer, Elly got a vision: She saw black children surrounding us and some of them sitting on our knees. She told us that it might be a vision from the Lord and that it maybe says something about our future. Our reaction was just like Abraham's wife Sarah (Genesis 18:12): We laughed and made jokes about it. But we also decided to see what the Lord would do in the future; after all, we had no connection with black people. Then the years went by and the vision was almost forgotten...

Choir

Kenya is a former colony of the British Empire. Despite the fact that the country did not get their independence without a struggle under the inspired leadership of their first president, Mr. Yomo Kenyatta, the inhabitants reconciled immediately with their former colonists. Hearty and warm ties of friendship were expressed by regular visits from the British Royal house to Kenya, even in the eighties. Choirs were very popular in the country and because of a visit from Queen Elizabeth to Kenya, the government started a national contest for choirs: The best choir would get the chance to perform for the Queen. The winning choir was the Jericho choir from a Pentecostal Church in Nairobi. This choir was already a popular one, and well known throughout the whole country. The pastor of the church - William Otieno - was also there, together with the choir. There were even some evangelists from Norway present. The enthusiasm of the choir touched these evangelists and they invited the choir and their pastor to come to Norway. In 1988 William Otieno preached in many places in Norway, and the choir sang...

Cold, dark and dreary

In that same year, we went to Norway for a holiday, a journey of two days by road and one day by sea. The Bible was deep down in our suitcase: we were going through a very difficult period in our faith. At the end of the day, we found a place to set up our tent out in nature. Before leaving the next morning we had to fill up the tank with petrol. Then, as Henk was backing up he hit a pillar with the car! Taken aback, with pain in our neck and a dent in the back of the car, we start the trip. But after a short time it started to rain. The day started to become cold, dark and dreary! It seemed that everything that could be against us was against us! It was a day with only bad luck, we thought...


The rain didn't stop. Because it was too wet to put our tent up outside, we decided - after eight hours of driving - to go to the first campground we could find. That happened to be in a small place called Seljord. At the campground there was also a big tent, a circus tent, we assumed. But as soon as we had unpacked the car and had set up our tent, we found out that it was a summer seminar for Pentecostal Christians. They had come there together for one week. We heard them shout: "Praise the Lord" and "Hallelujah!" Oh boy, and we thought that we were so lucky to have left the church behind is! Now we were in the middle of it! The Lord seemed to be making a joke with us! We intended to leave as soon as the rain was over. We didn't want to stay around all these Christians: Brothers and sisters? We'd had bad experiences with some of them and we wanted to have a vacation, and a rest away from them. I (Henk) decided to stay far away from these people, but in the evening it started to get very cold. The best thing we could do, was to go to the big tent. There they had a heater! In the tent was a long banner and written on it was a verse from Isaiah (43:18): "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"


In our hearts we knew that it was written there also for us! We didn't know what it meant, but we knew that from this moment, the Lord would start to do a new thing in our lives. That evening we heard William Otieno, the Kenyan pastor preach, and the singing of his "Jericho choir" from Nairobi. The next day it was still raining, so we couldn't pack up our tent. So we stayed another day. The whole week it rained, so we stayed the week. We became friends with a very enthusiastic Norwegian couple who translated everything for us. We also exchanged addresses with some young people of the Kenyan choir. The rain immediately stopped after the last seminar-guest was done! The Lord smiled on us! When our tent was dry, we took off not knowing that the next part of the vision, given to Elly about seven years ago, was starting to be fulfilled by the Lord. But in our mind, that vision was far away and forgotten.

Engagement

Some weeks later, after we were back home in Holland, we found the first letters form Kenya already on the doormat. Abel Amoyi and Ann Wanjiru invited us to come to their country. But we were no "globetrotters" and we tried to make that clear to them that there was no possibility for us to go to Kenya. But when they kept on writing to us again and again asking us to come, something changed in our hearts. Wilma decided to try and find a job and we wrote to Abel and Ann that we would come as soon as the Lord had provided a job for Wilma. We asked them to pray for it and they did. A few months later Wilma got a job! In 1991 we went to Kenya for the first time. We went on a safari, and we also travelled with Abel and Ann to the place where their parents lived in western Kenya. The Lord had connected us to black people, but we didn't remember the vision... until the last evening before our departure.


After the Sunday service, the day before our departure, William Otieno asked if he could make an appointment with us. He met us in our hotel in Nairobi and told us the story of his son Bozee, who had been killed a year before in a road accident. His son had been engaged to be married, and he had started to build a small house for him and his bride on the homestead of his father in Karungu, west Kenya. After he died, William and his wife Peres decided to use the small house as an orphanage. At that moment he had ten orphan children in that house, but because he didn't have the money, he couldn't afford to care for the children any longer. His question was: "Can you help me?" At that moment we got goose bumps on our arms! And together we remembered Elly's vision, which came out of nowhere! We explained that we were not able to help him on a big scale, but that we believed the Lord wanted us to do something. As soon as we were back home, we started to send William some money every now and then... We knew it was good to do, because William's children were our children too!

Prayer meetings

In 1992, William was invited to come to Norway again. On his way back home to Kenya, he first stopped in Amsterdam (Schiphol airport) to meet us for a week in Holland. We brought him in contact with all kinds of people, including one of the leaders of our church. This elder asked William spontaneously to come back next year for one month. He said: "Henk and Wilma can organise some places for you to preach!" William and his wife Peres came to Holland in 1993 after that invitation from our church. Our church also paid their tickets, and started to give finances to William for the orphans. We felt that it was important to find out how they could help William on a larger scale. When William and Peres left Holland, we invited two friends who were brothers from our church. We started with a prayer meeting to find out how we could organize aid for William and his orphan children. We tried to interest some larger Dutch development organizations to give aid to William and the children. Close to his homestead, William started a development project, including a church building, a clinic, an orphanage, a Bible school, and a polytechnic school. He also tried to get clean drinking water by drilling a hole, but could not find the money for this. All these development organizations said no, because 1993 was a bad year for fundraising organizations in Holland.

Foundation

We concluded that if nobody could help us, the Lord would! In June 1994, we were again in Kenya at the invitation of William. He brought us to Karungu, a small village close to the border of Lake Victoria, somewhere in the bush of West Kenya. There we saw the need for orphanages because there were so many children and widows in the Karungu area. Because of malaria, aids and other infectious diseases (caused by drinking contaminated water in Lake Victoria) many fathers and mothers died. Mothers also died in childbirth causing many children to become orphaned. A small and basic hospital, which could give care to mother and child, along with clean drinking water, could do miracles. Together with William, we opened a new bank account at the ABN-AMRO bank in Nairobi. We left some money behind and promised William that we would do what we could to help him.

Back in Holland we convinced our friends that it would be good to start a new foundation for fundraising. In July 1994 the public notary of our city, confirmed the start of the "Andreas Manna Foundation." Since then we have the financial care of forty children (at this moment). Including school fees, the monthly cost for each child is € 35. In May of 1998 the children moved to a larger house. We were in Karungu at the same time making a TV-program for the Evangelical Broadcasting in Holland (Evangelische Omroep = EO), which decided to help. In August we were on Dutch radio many times and two times on TV in a documentary of 25 minutes. The EO raised money for drilling a hole, for clean drinking water. With the help of a local Roman Catholic Company it was drilled, and in November there was clean drinking water in Karungu. Now we are trying to expand and build a clinic and William is doing some research on what we can do for the local primary school. So you see, there's a lot to do and we can use any help we can get…


terug naar top