Tribune-Courier News Reporter
Thousands of miles away in Africa, a 19 year-old Benton woman is ministering to malnourished children in a Kenyan orphanage. Here at home her family and friends at Hardin Baptist Church are working to help raise funds for her mission.
Jordan Beale has been at the Siritanya, Kenya Children’s Home since January – when what was supposed to be a two-week mission trip – turned into a life-changing experience that is keeping her on the continent of Africa four months longer than planned.
On Saturday night the church hosted a unique fundraising event to help the financially-struggling orphanage continue its work. The Hunger Banquet randomly assigned guests an economic status when they arrived which determined what meal they would be fed and where they would sit during the event. Some lucky patrons got to enjoy steak dinners while others received a bowl of rice, the primary component of the diet in the orphanage.
According to Darcey Beale, Jordan’s mother, the Hunger Banquet illustrates how no one can control whether they are born into poverty or wealth.
Darcey said she never expected her daughter to be running an orphanage in another country, let alone at such a young age, but always knew her daughter had a passion for taking care of other people.
Jordan said the experience has been beyond anything she could have imagined, “Each second that God allows me to be used is a blessing to me. I might not be learning much more biology or chemistry right now, but I am learning so much about love. Love isn’t being bought in a store or available on a shelf or in a program. It is here! For me, it is in the chocolate brown eyes of 19 beautiful faces, and my opportunity to serve them. Love is what I am receiving from my brand new Kenyan family.”
“When our daughter decided to take a semester off from college it kind of blew our minds because she’s always been so focused – so driven,” Darcey said. “She had already taken so many AP courses in high school and taken summer courses. She was going to be done with her undergraduate degree in three years.”
Jordan graduated from Christian Fellowship High School in 2012 and then started at Lipscomb University in Nashville.
Darcey said her daughter made the decision to take a semester off from school after a two-week mission trip to Kenya they took together in January.
“I could’ve never been prepared for what I saw there – stick legs and tattered clothes, those neglected children,” she said. “We live in a wasteful, extravagant life and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster, but Jordan decided for herself that she needed to stay and make a change.”
Darcey said Jordan has moved into the orphanage and will be living there until May when she comes back to the U.S. Until then, Jordan is responsible for running the orphanage.
“The orphanage was in jeopardy of closing so Justice – the indigenous minister – asked her to manage the orphanage,” Darcey said. “She was hesitant at first, but after she thought about it and worked out the expenses – she was able to approximate that the orphanage needs about $2,000 per month to stay open.”
Darcey said her daughter is doing a lot more as a 19 year old than most would be capable of – more than she might have been capable of at her daughter’s age.
“She’s mending clothes, buying groceries, cooking meals over an open fire and teaching classes,” she said. “We see where God has equipped her for this because she has also had to take care of some minor injuries. She has worked for her father’s office who’s a doctor – so she can handle some things others wouldn’t be as comfortable dealing with.”
Darcey said she gets to talk to her daughter on the phone about once a week, but the distance is still unsettling and as a mother she is always worried about safety.
“We’ve done other short-term mission trips before, but I could see this becoming long term one day,” she said. “She plans on coming back in May to finish her education and then going back, but I could see her having a practice here and then using it to fund her ministry overseas.”
The Hunger Banquet raised around $5,600 for the orphanage, but further donations at Hardin Baptist Church the following day pushed the total amount to nearly $7,000. If you would like to help Jordan in her mission work you can call the Hardin Baptist Church office at 270-437-4868.