My name is Jessica Davis. I am 28 years old and originally from South Carolina. God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
Growing up, we didn’t go to church very often, just on special holidays like Easter. However, my grandparents attended church every Sunday. Whenever possible, I would go to my grandparents’ house to spend the weekend with them, and they would take my cousins and me to church. That is where the seed was planted for me. When I was around 10 years old, I was participating in a church led basketball program.
At the end of the season, a preacher spoke to us, and that is when I gave my life to Christ.
Around the same time, a Sunday school teacher from my church started to really pour into me. Her name is Mrs. Valarie. She would invite all the middle school girls to her house for a weekly devotion. This is where my faith and understanding of the Bible grew. I became very involved with the youth program at church. My grandparents and Mrs. Valarie played a critical role in my faith at that age, and I will forever be grateful to them for that.
From as early as I can remember, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I loved school and I loved children. As a teenager, I also felt a calling to teach in Africa. At the time, most people thought that I was dreaming too big, but I knew that it was something that God had placed on my heart.
When I was in college, I saw a poster advertising a trip to Kenya, and I felt like this would be the perfect way to explore my calling.
So in 2014, I visited Kenya for the first time with a group from my college, Presbyterian College. We partnered with the Outreach Foundation to help build a church and a dorm for a girl’s rescue center. On this trip, we also visited Comet House Children’s Home and met one of the directors of the home, Ann.
I was set to graduate in 2016 with plans to teach in South Carolina, but I didn’t have much to do that summer before I started working. So I reached out to Ann and asked her if I could volunteer at Comet for a couple months. She graciously agreed to host me; so I spent two months with her and her family while volunteering at Comet. By then, I had grown to love Kenya and specifically Comet, so I didn’t want to go back to the US, but I had already signed a contract to teach in South Carolina.
I returned back to the US and taught kindergarten for two years when I heard that Comet was wanting to start a school. Immediately, I knew that this was the opportunity that God had put on my heart so many years ago. I originally committed to coming to Kenya for 1 year to help get the school started, but now I have been here for over 5 years with no plans of returning to the US anytime soon. Kenya is home for me now.
I am the principal of Comet House Children’s Home, and I teach the 3-year-old preschool class. There are 135 day students at our school from age seven months to twelve years old. Half of the students are on scholarship because they come from very poor families in our community. Without Comet these kids wouldn’t be able to afford to go to school. School is a safe haven for these kids. Some kids as young as six years old are responsible for watching their younger siblings and doing household chores because their parents spend long hours doing manual labor to provide basic needs for their families.
One of our students used to cry every day when it was time to go home. He didn’t want to leave school because it was his safe place. At home, they rarely had any food. For all of our students, school is a place where they can get an education, play, and have their basic needs met. I am happy that we can provide a loving Christian environment for all of our students.
We also do as much as we can to improve their home lives. We have feeding programs and have taken many students to the doctor because their parents couldn’t afford it. One student had a painful, infected tooth that had caused his whole face to swell for over a week. His parents had been saving money to take him to the dentist, but he was in so much pain waiting for them to save enough money. We were able to take him to the dentist to have the tooth pulled and get him medicine for the infection, swelling and pain.
Most of our scholarship students don’t have enough food at home to eat, but at school they are given lunch and a snack every day. During school breaks, some days as many as 10 kids show up at my house. I live next door to the school, and all of the kids know they can get a good meal if they come around lunchtime. We love being able to provide basic needs for kids, both during and after school.
I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing mission. It always amazes me how God lined my path from South Carolina all the way to Kenya, and He has been with me every step of the way.
More Faith Stories
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”
We attended church but maintained a passive religious life. Our family had been going to church and proclaiming, “Jesus is our Savior and Lord,” with our mouths only. It seemed that my heart was gradually drifting away from God.