By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist
Kids love to be loved.
It’s a truth that connects the stories of two women who were born in different countries, in different decades and into different economic means. But the love for children God placed in the hearts of both women is a seed that continues to grow.
One of these women was Mescal Griffin, long-time WMU director at Lineville Baptist Church in Carey Baptist Association. If you grew up in a rural Alabama Baptist church, you probably knew someone like Mescal. In the days before seatbelt laws church ladies drove around the neighborhood, piling kids into cars and into the beds of trucks to take them to church.
Griffin got her first car in the 1940s, and she often said God told her to use that car to take people to the doctor and to Sunday School. So that’s just what she did for years and years.
The second woman is Ruth Owuor. Ruth came to America in 1996 from Kenya with $20 in her pocket and a painful past. She left a country where thousands of children were being orphaned because of the rapid spread of AIDS, but she never forgot the children.
She started a small business making jewelry, painting ceramics, crocheting and painting. She sold her handiwork at flea markets and later at a local mall and started sending money home to her family in Kenya to care for abused women and orphans. They eventually bought a piece of land and built a shelter where women and children could find refuge. For 10 years her business supported 30 orphans and four women in Kenya.
In a Bible study at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ruth met Mescal’s daughter, Charlotte Robertson, who brought Ruth to speak at Lineville Baptist. It was the first time Ruth shared her story.
Mescal died soon after that and Ruth went to her funeral. Person after person stood during the funeral with a simple statement of gratitude: “If it weren’t for Mescal Griffin I wouldn’t be saved today.”
As she heard those testimonies Ruth said God told her to name the orphanage in Kenya after Mescal Griffin. And so Ruth’s orphanage became Mescal’s Children’s Center of Hope.
That was in 2011. And it wasn’t long before Ruth felt God calling her back to Kenya to oversee the orphanage. That meant the loss of the financial support she had been giving the center. And that’s when Charlotte Robertson got involved.
“My missions pastor said we needed a nonprofit and an accountant friend offered to help,” Robertson said. “We got the status in about six months — God just did it. And the rest is history.”
Robertson began to tell Ruth’s story, which now included Mescal, dozens of children in Lineville and Clay County and orphaned children in Kenya.
The churches of Clay County have become an important part of the Mescal’s Children’s Center story through faithful financial and prayer support.
This spring the board began to talk about building a school for the children in Kenya.
“In the public schools, there are 80–90 students in each class and many teachers are Muslim,” Robertson said. “Our board members there said the best way to make a long-term impact for Christ is to have a Christian school.”
Once again, Clay County churches stepped up. A dinner and night of worship at Lineville Baptist drew a crowd of nearly 200 people and helped raise funds. Seven Baptist churches along with Lineville Methodist Church and Highway Congregational Methodist Church in Randolph County participated.
The results of the fundraising was enough to build classrooms for kindergarteners through second graders and operate the school. They broke ground in June and Robertson will visit again in November to see the progress. The building project will help the children, but it will also make a difference for families in the community as men and women are hired to work, Ruth said.
“The impact of Mescal’s being built here is of great importance,” Ruth said. “The children’s health has improved greatly. Their education is ongoing. And above all they feel the hope of Christ in them. Mescal’s is continually changing this community.”