The effects of HIV and AIDS have ravaged many families in Africa, and for Eldady Onkware, this is no exception. Though he was raised in a happy Christian family, at 6 years old, his mother passed away due to the progression of AIDS. From that point on, his life changed forever, as he was raised by relatives, while his father worked away from home. Unfortunately, he was overworked by his stepmother and injured badly by his brother. To add to his despair, his father also passed away due to HIV/AIDs at 14. His childhood was tumultuous, as he was thrown around from family member to family member, often abused and mistreated.
He was baptized in water and by the Holy Spirit in high school, and this is when he received a vision from God: a vision to help children just like him, ravished by conditions of poverty, instability, and at times, severe hunger. Still, Eldady never lost hope.
Eldady may be an unusual name for Americans, but there is a story behind it. Originally named Brian at birth, he was prayed over as a child, and the pastor changed his name to Eldad, which means “favored by God.” His dad misspelled it and added the ‘y’. To this day, his name is always a reminder of his father.
Now, he is the founder of Irima Church of God, with the mission to create a “Heavenly Home for Orphans” in Kisii, Kenya. This is an extremely rural area, with about half of the people living in substantial food poverty. Despite the challenges, he has converted many non-believers, including Muslims, which can be dangerous. Still, his faith never ceases.
Currently, he is leading his church, which started with about 20 members. However, through the power of fasting, prayer, and faith, his church now has 50 members, and they are supporting 17 orphan children. They struggle with a lack of food and resources, but through Jesus Christ, they move forward fearlessly and trust in God’s provision.
When asked for a message he wanted to give in his language, Ekegusii, he said, “Nyasae nomonene otorusiri atambe tokomwakera mbuya mono.” It means, “Our God is great. He has brought us from far. We thank Him so much.”