by Mercie Moluche '12, as told to Sharyn Kopf

Some days it’s hard to believe that I’m in America and at Cedarville. It’s been a long, difficult journey, but I know there’s a reason God brought me here.

My story begins in a small village in Kenya, where I grew up on a farm with many siblings. My mom alone had eight children, and my dad had two other wives besides her.

In my family, my mother was the only member who was a Christian. She took me to church and talked to my younger sister Daisy and me about Jesus. Then, when I was 12, my mom passed away from throat cancer. Still, I kept going to church even though I didn’t fully know what it meant to be saved. And God continued working in my life.

Although my village didn’t value education, especially for girls, I had the opportunity to attend a primary school. Since I did well on my exams at that level, my dad allowed me to go to high school in a nearby city. This gave me a chance to become involved in Christian organizations and continue going to church. At that point, I began to understand salvation — that it wasn’t just about going to church but about giving your life to Christ. And so, when I was 15 years old, I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

Escaping Tradition

In my village, girls are expected to follow certain traditions when they turn 13. Most of my peers were getting married, and female circumcision still happens in my community — two of my sisters had it done. But I fought those traditions.

I moved to America during my third year of high school, escaping from a family that wanted me to leave school and get married. Fortunately, I have an uncle who lives in the United States. He helped me get a passport and even paid for my ticket to Massachusetts. But that’s not to say that my life was suddenly easier.

Within the first year, I had to learn a new language, adapt to a different culture, find a church, take SATs, and use computers. Even the cold weather was an adjustment for me!

Since my uncle was a truck driver, he was gone most of the time, and I was by myself a lot. But again, God provided the right people in my life at the right time. At my church, I met a couple, Rob and Becky Riley, who offered to be my guardians after they heard my story. I lived with them for three years.

Meanwhile, I was finishing high school, which was very difficult for me because I had to learn a new language. In Kenya, I knew my tribal language and the national language of Swahili. But even though I had learned to read and speak English, I had trouble understanding the language when someone else spoke it.

Still, it wasn’t long before I started thinking about college. I knew I couldn’t afford it, especially as an international student without access to financial aid. Recognizing this, the Rileys asked to be my permanent guardians and took the matter to court. It was a long process that required my father’s permission. I wrote my dad a letter — but never heard back. It’s not easy for mail to get to my village. But miraculously, the courts approved the guardianship, and then I applied for residency.

Soon after, a friend introduced me to Cedarville. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be accepted, and I certainly didn’t know how I would pay for it. But when the University sent me my acceptance letter, I started asking God to provide a way.

Embracing Grace

As always, God is faithful, and I began attending Cedarville in the fall of 2008. I started with 13 hours of classes so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. For awhile, I was working 24 hours a week in Dayton, but I was able to cut my hours in half when I got a custodial job at the University. It’s exciting how it all turned out! I like my classes, and I’m doing well.

Recently, Cedarville accepted me into the new pharmacy program. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go into a health field. I chose to double-major in biology and prepharmacy, since the field of pharmacy is something I can take back to Kenya.

If God allows, I’d like to return someday to my home country to see my family and help the people in my village. My oldest sister, Helen, has had AIDS for seven years. With so many diseases in our village, it’s especially hard for someone with a weak immune system. I worry about her and call once a week to hear how she’s doing.

I miss home, but I’m praying for the financial help to stay here since this is where God wants me. I certainly never dreamed I’d be doing what I am doing. It hasn’t been easy, and I’m stressed a lot. But in the few months I’ve been at Cedarville I’ve grown so much. I realize I couldn’t have made it without Christ’s help. That’s the main thing I’ve learned from my experiences — no matter how difficult my situation, God is always there for me, and I am never alone.