We go into the poorest slums, and that is where I find God.
- Ferdy Mahfood
In 2000, American Family Radio partnered with Food For The Poor to raise $250,000 to build 2,000 homes for the poor in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica. AFA Journal editor Randall Murphree reflects on his visit to observe FFTP’s ministry in Kingston. This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 here.
Reflection 2: The Measure of a Man
I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
Ferdy Mahfood makes his way along the narrow dirty streets of Majesty Gardens, avoiding the open drainage and speaking to those along the way. Soon, a parade of residents follows as he guides us through the maze of cardboard and plastic shanties the poor call home. Water comes from a community standpipe. Electricity is pirated into a few homes.
Ferdy stops in front of a makeshift shack and asks for Michael. Until recently, Michael, 16, spent much of his time and energy caring for his mother, who died of cancer. Now, Ferdy admonishes Michael to stay in school and find gainful employment. It strikes me as quite remarkable that Ferdy, founder and head of the multi-million dollar ministry, knows so much about the life of a 16-year-old in the slums.
Majesty Gardens, one of the poorest sections of Kingston, is the next stop on our pilgrimage with Food For The Poor. The St. Andrews Settlement there is a work in progress sponsored by St. Andrews Anglican Church. Scattered among the ramshackle huts are occasional brightly painted small homes, about the size of a storage shed for most Americans. Food For The Poor not only builds the homes, but also supports the project with sports equipment, educational supplies, and other materials as needed.
As they guide us through the neighborhood, Ferdy and the local missionary discuss needs, prioritizing the necessary and the urgent. Again and again, they are interrupted by residents eager to greet Ferdy, their patron and their friend. Some want to request help, but most just want his smile, his embrace, and his words of love. It’s astounding how many he knows by name.
“We go into the poorest slums,” Ferdy says, “and that is where I find God. God is madly in love with these people. And, very clearly, so is Ferdy. His face beams with each embrace, his eyes sparkle with each touch, each baby’s kiss.
If one would measure a man’s heart, take note not just of what his lips speak. Follow where his feet walk. Observe what his hands do. See whom his arms embrace. Then you can count the value of his words.