It was a good day — until Charles Mully, the owner of Mullyways Agencies, reached the spot where his vehicle should have been. Only shards of glass remained. He turned to a nearby street boy. “Where’s my car?”
“You didn’t pay me to watch it,” the youth retorted.
Charles groaned. When he had parked his car, a group of street boys had asked for a shilling to protect it. He could tell they had been sniffing glue. Not wanting to encourage their addiction, he had refused to give them money.
Now his Peugeot was gone. Of course, he could buy another car. He was a rich man, a millionaire. But something about those street kids bothered him. He had seen the same desperation in their eyes that he had felt as a child.
Charles was born in a small village in Kenya. When he was 6, he awoke one morning to silence. No parents. No brothers playing near the hut. No baby sister crying. Everyone was gone.
Charles ran down the dirt path between acacia trees to his maternal grandmother’s hut. Maybe his mother was already working in the maize fields.
“Where is my family?” Charles asked his grandmother.
“They left,” she told him.
“But when will they return?” he asked. She opened her arms, telling him that he could live with her.
Charles had already started primary school, but his grandmother couldn’t afford to continue sending him, and within a few weeks, her food ran out. Though Charles had uncles who lived in the village, he quickly learned that they would not help him.
Since he was staying with his mother’s mother, he could lay claim to some of the family’s inheritance from her. This made his uncles angry. To show their displeasure, Charles’ uncles brought their mother food and stayed to watch her eat it so she wouldn’t give any to Charles.
For two years, Charles had to beg for food from relatives, friends, and strangers. It was humiliating, but he needed to eat.
Alone with family
One day Charles’ mother returned. She had been beaten so badly by her drunken husband that Charles barely recognized her. Tragically, she had been unable to hold on to their baby, Zachariah, during the beating, and the child fell into a cooking fire.
Relatives took her and the baby to the hospital. Shortly after they were released, his father returned and took Charles, his mother and his brother to live in his father’s village with his other siblings. But within the year, his father, in a drunken rage, beat up a neighbor and fled with his family, once again leaving behind his oldest son.
When Charles finally found his family, his father sent him to his grandmother, but his uncles, protecting their inheritance, wouldn’t let him near her. Again, Charles had to beg from relatives and strangers. By age 11, he found menial labor to pay for food, clothing and his schooling. Sometimes he found someone’s floor to sleep on, and other times he slept outside. Above all, he longed for the love and security of a caring family.
No longer alone
Charles first learned about God’s love when he was 16. As he contemplated suicide, a friend invited him to church. There, Charles embraced God’s message of salvation and reveled in being accepted into His family.
At 17, he graduated from the eighth grade, but found no opportunity for advancement until he walked 60 miles to Nairobi. There, he found a menial-labor job working for a Christian couple from India. They provided a room, food and pay equivalent to about a dollar a month. Charles was thrilled. His basic needs were all met, and he even sent money home to his family.
Within six months, he was promoted to farm supervisor. While doing this job, he met and married his wife, Esther. To better support her, he started working for a foreign construction company in Kenya.
As his family grew, Charles saved enough money to quit his job and buy his first matatu, a shared taxi that transported more than one fare. Though his wife was uncertain about this change, in time, his matatu business grew into a bus line. From there, Charles diversified into oil and gas, agriculture, insurance, micro-financing, real estate and debt collection.
He had it all — a beautiful and godly wife, eight wonderful children, a good home and a successful business. But everything changed the day his Peugeot was stolen. For the next three years, the desperation in the eyes of those street boys haunted him. It was no longer enough to hand out food and meet the occasional needs of street children. God was stirring his heart.
Finding God’s will
In November 1989, Charles sat in his Mercedes-Benz on the side of a highway, sobbing. He felt dizzy, was sweating and his insides ached. He struggled with God.
How could one man help so many abandoned children? It was an impossible mission! Should my own children become beggars? he questioned. The tears and stomach pain would not stop. Perhaps as a businessman, I could give more to help them. But if I must sell everything and risk poverty, I have to know this is Your will.
After four hours of wrestling with God, Charles came to a conclusion: God had blessed him with so much not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of others.
He told God, “Here I am.” And all his ailments disappeared. No stomachache. No dizziness. No sweating. Only God’s peace.
Charles’ decision to sell all his businesses and work with street kids shocked his family and friends, but within the week, he brought three children to his wife, Esther, and she welcomed these street children into their home. They were the first of thousands that were welcomed into Mully Children’s Family.
The path forward was anything but easy. Charles faced impossible odds and insurmountable obstacles. Tragedy threatened the lives of those under his care. And on more than one occasion, the hope of the children would rest on the need for a miracle. Yet Charles’ confidence in God’s will never wavered.
Find out the rest of the story of Mully Children’s Family in the feature-length documentary Mully.