Project 82 Kenya: A Journey of Love, Hope, and Miracles
In the heart of Kenya, amidst the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultures, lies a story of unwavering faith, compassion, and transformation. This is the story of Project 82, a mission partner of Mt. Bethel, whose incredible journey was born out of a simple vision trip but has since become a lifeline for countless children and families in need.
A Vision Trip That Changed Everything
It all began during a vision trip to Kenya. Ferrell Coppedge, accompanied by his wife Libby, daughter Annie, and other Mt. Bethel team members, embarked on a journey that would shatter preconceived notions and ignite a deep sense of purpose. Witnessing firsthand the intersection of poverty and need in Kenya left an indelible mark on their hearts. At that moment, Ferrell knew that “just doing nothing is not an option; God, you’re going to have to show us.”
The Birth of Project 82
Back home in Georgia, Jody Ray, Ferrell, and Libby Coppedge came together to discuss the idea of establishing a ministry focused on vulnerable children. Their shared belief in the importance of reintegrating children into loving families, whether through foster care, adoption, or supporting biological families, laid the foundation for what would become Project 82.
Soon after its inception, Ferrell’s daughter, Annie, decided to serve as a missionary for Project 82 in Kenya. Her unwavering passion and dedication were instrumental in shaping the organization’s future.
The Birth of Neema House
With God at the center of their calling, Project 82 Kenya sought to establish a Baby Rescue Center in a place where the need was most dire. Annie’s efforts and deep commitment led to the creation of Neema House, a name derived from Swahili, meaning “grace.” This baby rescue ministry became a beacon of hope for abandoned infants, offering them not only a chance at life but also love and a forever family.
A Holistic Approach to Changing Lives
Over the last 15 years, Project 82 Kenya has expanded its scope to address the holistic needs of vulnerable children and their families. With a dedicated staff of 50 people on the ground in Kenya, they implement day-to-day operations that make a lasting impact. Project 82 most recently launched a ministry to assist single pregnant women and helps support a local ministry for special needs children.
This remarkable journey of Project 82 reminds us that miracles are not reserved for distant places or distant times. Instead, they can be found in the hearts and actions of those who choose to be open to God’s calling. With unwavering dedication, Project 82 Kenya continues to be an example of God’s love, hope, and miracles in action. Each day, they offer the promise of a better future to the children and families they serve, proving that when we answer God’s call, incredible transformations are possible.
A Project 82 Infant Rescue Testimony
From the Womb-
You know her best – her heartbeat, the sound of her voice, her movements, her schedule. And then all of a sudden you’re thrust into a loud, busy, cold, bright world you don’t yet know and she is nowhere to be found. It’s a huge event for any baby, the act of being born, but for you it’s different because your safe space – your first love- is not with you anymore as she has always been. Your mother has died while giving you life.
You’re taken to a room that is kept warm by portable heaters since the warmth of a mother is not present there. Maybe you share a cot with one other baby, maybe three. People are shuffling in and out of this tiny room all day and night–the lights never switch off. You are picked up every few hours to be given milk with a cup and a spoon and your diaper is changed every now and then. You might cry before or after these brief interactions, but you will soon learn that your cries will rarely change much of anything about your situation, so you eventually stop.
Months pass and you still don’t have a name. Probably your mother had a special name picked for you, but no one knows what it was, so you are still nameless. The doctor decides with an equation exactly how many milliliters you should drink in a three hour period, and yet you barely grow because growth during these most sensitive early days requires so much more than simple sustenance.
It’s not that the people around you don’t feel mercy for you…they do and wish they could do more for you. However, they are already stretched thin and overworked. Direct nursing care is very limited since admitted babies and children require their own caregiver to be present for 24/7 care. Because you’re alone, you’re just given whatever tiny leftovers a nurse can offer.
No family members have come to bury your mother and so that means no family members have come for you either. Perhaps your mom came to the hospital in a rush, so no paperwork was done sharing names or phone numbers or details of any family members. Maybe they know you were born and your mother died, but they fear the large medical bill that awaits them so they are keeping their distance. Maybe they had a falling out with your mother or are blaming tiny, innocent, you for her death. Maybe they don’t know you exist. Maybe they are not even aware your mother died and figure she just lost touch for a time. Maybe it’s another reason altogether. All of the possible scenarios are heartbreaking.
Months after your mother’s death-the worst day of your life-a children’s home is called in because pressure has been put on the hospital social worker to relieve the hospital of the burden of the costly formula you drink and the space you occupy in that small, always brightly lit, room. Someone stands in front of your cot and briefly explains your tragic history, referring to you as “this one” and briefly scanning your file to confirm something so simple as your gender or age.
You are five months old now, but the ones picking you up dress you in preemie clothes before leaving the hospital. You cannot hold your head up. Your hair is full of lint and your fingernails have likely never been cut since your birth. It’s clear you haven’t known love since your mother died.
And now God has given us the chance to love you –an unimaginable privilege. You are so very, very, very, worthy of love, little one.
We will love you by giving you a name and looking into your eyes and singing to you and carrying you on our backs and holding you anytime you want and praying for you and giving you a long, extra slow bath just because you enjoy it. We will not rush through your feeds to cross off the next item on our to-do lists and we will give you as much milk as you want whenever you want, no math equations required. We will sing and dance and act a fool in order to get those most precious smiles from you. We will celebrate when you sit by yourself for the first time, however long it takes you.
We will search high and low for your family because we know that is where you belong. We will not give up easily, but if we are not able to find your people we will fight for you to be placed into another loving family. One that will love you with everything they have, forever.
And God, He has never forgotten you for a moment. Your name has been inscribed on His hand even before it had been spoken aloud and He has mourned with you as you grieve the loss of your beloved mama. He is fighting for you and He is with you. He is the one enabling us to care for you and He is the one who receives glory when you are known and loved on this earth. We are certainly not your saviors, and your forever family won’t be either, but we will do everything in our power to point you to the One who is.
This is one of almost 300 stories of precious little abandoned babies that are now adopted or have been reunited with their biological families. It all started with a mission trip and life has never been the same or better since! To God alone be the glory.