Over the course of her illustrious career, best-selling author Debbie Macomber has written hundreds of stories. Today, she is the main character.
The supporting characters of this story are a Microsoft VP, World Vision, and the girls of a school in Kenya. Read our story of determination, passion, and heart!
This is a story about author Debbie Macomber, a book, and a group of readers nearly 9,000 miles away.
It features gritty determination, passion, and heart.
Just like one of her stories.
Debbie Macomber’s books are loved. She is a #1 New York Times best-selling author with more than 170 million copies of her books in print.
One of those books, This Matter of Marriage, ended up in one of the most remote places on earth — West Pokot, Kenya.
How that book arrived was more than serendipitous.
It all started with Margo Day, vice president of U.S. Education for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.
Margo had been trying to figure out how to serve God. Should she start a new business? Five new businesses? What should she do? After praying and praying, she distinctly heard the voice of God saying, “Five loaves and two fishes. What you have is enough.”
Margo was heading to Africa for vacation with her niece Gail and contacted Jonas Carlson, who works with World Vision donors, to ask if he could take her to see World Vision’s work. He said yes.
On their first day in Kenya, four months after God had spoken to Margo about loaves and fishes, the group started their trip with devotions with the Kenyan staff. That morning, a staff member started with the verse on his heart, “Five loaves and two fishes. What you have is enough.”
Margo felt a chill. Her answer was near.
At the end of the trip, Margo, Gail, and Jonas visited a rescue center for girls escaping from the cultural practice of child marriage — also known as cutting — and female genital mutilation as a prerequisite to marriage. They met 34 girls who had escaped from their families before this could happen.
But what would happen next? There was no place for these girls to go to secondary school and yet, says Margo, they were amazing. These girls had so much potential. They only needed a path.
That day, the idea for St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls in West Pokot was born. Today, 380 girls go to St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls, the school Margo Day helped build. The girls are studying chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics. Of course, there’s a computer lab with Windows 8.0.
And, there’s a library.
As St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls continued to thrive, author Debbie Macomber was looking for a way to give back — a way to provide her own loaves and fishes for people in need.
Debbie isn’t just a writer. She’s also an avid knitter. She became involved in an organization called Knit for Kids, a World Vision partner. That’s how Jonas Carlson met Debbie and her family. Debbie was a child sponsor with a heart for God and the poor, and she wanted to do more. It was a perfect match.
But how could Jonas connect Debbie and her family with the right story? He was about to take Margo Day and her niece Gail back to Kenya to visit the girls at the school. And Gail was collecting gifts to bring.
Gail was excited about visiting Kenya with her aunt Margo. She told everyone about the trip. One of her friends said, “How can we help? Can my group do a school supply drive?” Jonas picked up the supplies and took them to Gail’s house to load up. Reaching into the box, he found a paperback book, This Matter of Marriage, by Debbie Macomber. He put it aside to read it on the plane.
Jonas was enthralled. “It was all about a main character who had decided to focus on her career after college,” says Jonas. “She didn’t want the distraction of a husband and chose a professional path instead of marriage. But in her 30s, she got to thinking, ‘I would kind of like a husband now. And children. How will I do this?’”
Jonas gave the book to the principal at St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls in Kenya and asked her to read it. The principal was astonished by the book.
“How does this woman in America know the hearts of these girls so well?” she asked Jonas. These were girls who had escaped child marriage and the brutality of female genital mutilation. “But they are wondering,” said the principal, “can I still get married? Will anyone want me? They were truly inspired by this book.”
And then she added: “They want to meet the author.”
In November 2012, World Vision staff from Kenya met Debbie Macomber at World Vision’s offices in Washington State. Margo Day was there along with Jonas Carlson. They recounted the story of This Matter of Marriage and its impact on the girls.
“We told Debbie the story of how they were reading the book in Kenya,” says Jonas, “and how the girls wanted to meet her.” Jonas and Margo asked Debbie to come to Kenya. She said yes on the spot.
The next year, Debbie, her husband Wayne, her daughter Adele, and two granddaughters visited St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls in Kenya. The family met the girls and heard their stories. The girls were able to meet the author who somehow understood what was happening in their lives, even though they lived nearly 9,000 miles away.
And Debbie added more books to the St. Elizabeth’s library.
Debbie’s response to this story is typical of a woman of faith. Nothing is an accident, she says. She’s seen God’s hand throughout. “Of the hundreds of books I have written,” she told Jonas Carlson, “of course this is the book they would read.”
Debbie and Margo are now fast friends. Like Margo, Debbie has a heart for the girls at St. Elizabeth’s. She intends to visit again.
But there’s more to the story. Debbie now wants to take her readers on this journey.
Debbie is asking her readers to raise funds for the girls at St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls and four other schools in West Pokot — through book clubs and through fundraising sites. There will be incentives for people who raise the most money for this project that is so close to her heart.
This is a story Debbie wants to share with the world. It’s not her story or Margo’s story, but God’s story, told through transformation in the lives of the girls in Kenya.
And like every Debbie Macomber story, it is a treasure.
This fall, Debbie Macomber has a goal of raising $50,000 by the end of September to build a high school that will provide high-quality education for girls in Kenya. It costs approximately $200 per girl to keep the school fully equipped and running smoothly.