Kudzai* was just three years old when her mom decided she was done with being a mom. She didn’t want the responsibility of raising two little girls in poverty-stricken Zimbabwe. Her solution? She fed Kudzai and her twin sister poison, then left them, assuming they would be dead within a few hours.

Thankfully, a neighbor found the girls, rushed them to medical help, and saved their lives.

But then what? Then their mom didn’t want the girls and there aren’t any social services in Zimbabwe to step in and care for abandoned children. Foster care and adoption are practically unheard of. Fortunately, Kudzai’s grandma, even though she is incredibly poor herself, was willing to take the girls in.

Kudzai and her grandma live in a village with a Hands of Hope feeding center where orphans can get a hot meal once a day. This helped Kudzai stay alive while also giving her a connection to the church and to Christians who loved and discipled her. In 2017, Kudzai attended a summer camp sponsored by Hands of Hope and Global Encounters. That’s where I met her. Kudzai is a teenager now, at that age when kids often make a lifetime decision whether they will follow God or go their own way.

I loved the tender heart and willingness to learn that I saw in Kudzai!

Fast forward to camp in Zimbabwe the next year. After flying for what seemed like forever, and then driving over bumpy dirt roads to get to the camp, I half stumbled out of the van to be greeted by a rush of teenage girls yelling, “Auntie Liz! Welcome! We are translators this year!” It was Kudzai and several of her friends. What a way to start the time in Zimbabwe!

Kudzai did an amazing job translating. She was a junior translator this year, but hoping to train and become a regular camp leader in the future. She was recommended by her pastor and the Hands of Hope staff because they see in Kudzai a love for God and a willingness to serve and learn. I couldn’t agree more!

When I look at Kudzai’s smiling face, I’m reminded that God loves to rescue and redeem.

When I watch her teaching and mentoring younger children, I see that what others meant for evil, God meant for good. He is working through Kudzai to love other abandoned, hurt, abused children. Kudzai’s life brings God glory.

*Name changed to protect my young friend’s identity.

About the Author: Elizabeth is the executive director of Global Encounters. She has been traveling the world to work with kids and train teachers since 2004. Besides traveling and children’s ministry, she also enjoys coffee, volleyball, scuba diving, and remodeling her house (when she’s home… which isn’t very often except for this year).

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