It all started in 1990 when Herb and Virginia Veith (then in their early 60s) met a man from Kenya who was an evangelist. His name was Hezron Smith Cheville. Virginia and Herb affectionately called him Smitty. He had started 30 small churches in the western part of Kenya and tried to visit the U.S. every year to raise funds to support these churches.
In October of 1993, Smitty invited the Veiths to come to Kenya. Virginia had always wanted to go on an African Safari and Herb wanted to preach to natives in the Dark Continent. So, they went. Little did they know what God had planned!
One day, when Smitty was busy, Herb and Virginia took a walk around Kakamega Town with a young high school teacher named Peter who was being mentored by Smitty. They saw several young children running around in ragged clothes, dirty and full of sores. The Veiths gave them some candy; they posed for a photo. Peter explained that they lived and slept on the street between houses or buildings or abandoned cars. They begged for food as they had no parents to care for them.
He said he sometimes tried to help them by buying them lunch which amounted to a couple of slices of white bread and a bottle of soda. Virginia and Herb committed to sending Smitty a few dollars each month so he could buy them an occasional lunch.
After returning to the United States, the Veiths began getting letters from Peter explaining how the children had thought they were just typical tourists taking pictures. But when they started getting meals from the money we sent, they knew God must love them very much. He had sent someone from America to help them.
The next year Herb and Virginia decided to visit Kakamega again in December and have a Christmas for the children who had never experienced such a thing. When they arrived, over fifty children greeted them with enthusiasm beyond description, excited that the Americans had returned. On Christmas day they enjoyed a big party with food, beans, and corn, and soda to drink. One of the members of Parliament give the children a talk about his life as an orphan and how he became successful in the government. The Veiths then had gifts for them. The highlight was a Frisbee, something they had never seen.
The following year the Veiths were able to locate an abandoned teacher’s home. The Headmaster of the school said they could use it for free as long as we fixed it up, which they did. This became the first home. We started with ten children and sent them to the school on the premises where the home was located. They called the home Mission to the Fatherless, and that was the beginning of the ministry.
Since those early years, the ministry has grown to two large orphanages. One is still located Kakamega and the other is hours away in the village of Oyugis. The director in Oyugis is Douglas who also pastors a village church. He married one of the Mission to the Fatherless children who was older when she came to the home. They desired to give back to the community by starting the second home.
Through generous friends, God has provided for these children more than many of them could ever imagine: quality facilities, three meals a day, medical care, clothing, an education, people who love them and a God who loves them even more.
Herb and Virginia used to travel to Kenya annually, staying for several weeks at a time. Over the years, Herb would preach in some of the nearby villages. Herb went home to be the Lord in August of 2014 but he will be remembered for a long time by the Kenyans whose lives he touched. There was even a pre-school in a local village called Papa Herb Academy.
Over twenty years ago, God called Herb and Virginia to do a simple thing – help feed a few children. They answered that call and were faithful. One step became two and two years became twenty. The Lord calls each of us to be faithful with the small things he places before us.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
(Jesus’ words in the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:21)