Andrawes and Lily learn to parent 51 children
Andrawes* and Lily* were called to be missionaries in South Sudan at a young age. They began serving with Streams of Living Water’s House of Hope in 2013. God rescued them from a series of gang attacks before sending them back to Egypt for children’s ministry. Read the previous installments of their story here.
After four years of serving with a children’s ministry in Egypt, Lily was in South Africa learning how to care for traumatized children when she realized God wanted her back in South Sudan.
“It was clear God was telling me, ‘I’m teaching you this not for your ministry in Egypt but for the girls in the House of Hope and other children in South Sudan,’” she says.
As Andrawes waited for her in the airport back in Egypt, Lily had no idea how to explain this feeling to him. To her surprise, she found that God had spoken to Andrawes as well. Later that same day, Brother Philip* of Streams of Living Water called them unexpectedly to ask, “Do you want to go back?” Their answer was an unequivocal “yes.”
They returned to South Sudan in September of 2020, knowing that the children there still desperately needed help.
“Everyone thought that we were crazy to change things during the pandemic before the vaccine,” Andrawes explains. “Everyone was saying, ‘Just wait,’ and we said, ‘No, we cannot wait. We have a job, and we need to go back.’”
Finding a place in Juba for them and their three growing children was no easy task, but God provided one near the House of Hope. After six months of living there, however, safety took another turn for the worse.
“It was a traumatizing place with a lot of problems, so we started to pray that maybe the Lord would open a door for a secure place to stay,” Lily says.
Not until April of 2022 did the Lord answer that prayer. A Christian organization in Juba had a house for rent in a complex for missionary families. “It was life changing,” Lily says. “Now [our three children] are secure. They are safe. They have friends to play with, and they can play in the compound the whole day after school. We are not worried about them.”
They pray that their one-year contract will be renewed this April: “We are going step by step and we believe the Lord will do what is right in His own eyes.”
Not only are their three children good friends with the other missionary kids but they also consider the girls at the House of Hope part of their family.
“When you ask our daughter how many brothers and sisters she has, she will say, ‘Two brothers and 48 sisters,’” Lily says.
Andrawes and Lily agree that their all-time favorite moments happen when the whole family is together.
“When Andrawes blows his whistle,” Lily says, “the girls gather in a specific place and we sit together. For me, having each other together as a very big family is always a happy time even when we have hard times.”
As the girls mature, they are able to return as caregivers for their family, as in the case of four of the 48 girls. The House of Hope still provides these 18- to 20-year-olds with education, food and medication, but the team is happy that the girls are able to return home.
“Our vision is not only to provide a safe place and food and school and all of these good and important things but to be a life change so they can go back to their communities with the gospel,” Andrawes says.
Andrawes and Lily are encouraged by the evidence of God’s work in the girls’ lives. Lily tells one of her favorite stories:
Groups from the U.N. used to do humanitarian work in Juba, providing for the House of Hope girls and playing with them every weekend. Teams came and went every six months, and the girls became particularly attached to one Chinese group, making their parting more difficult than the rest. Preparing for the final “goodbye,” one girl at the House of Hope went to Andrawes, asking, “Daddy, can I ask you to print a Bible verse for me?” Opening her Bible to the first page, where John 3:16 was printed in different languages, she pointed to the Chinese translation, saying, “I want to give this Bible verse to each of the Chinese U.N. people. We are not going to see them again here, but we hope to see them again in Heaven.”
In the next part of the story, read about daily life at the House of Hope and learn why many of the girls struggle to read and write. Read part four: "Please take our children."
*Name changed for security