The Feed

Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit

'That Food. That's What They Need'

'That Food. That's What They Need'

Jophi’s earliest memory is running from bullets. His mother disappeared when he was a toddler, and he wishes more than anything he could remember what she looks like.

The Congolese native remembers his first day living with his uncle.

“I kept asking, “Where’s my mama? And nobody would tell me,” he recounted to his legal guardian, Laura.

At six years old, Jophi worked on his uncle’s farm instead of going to school. At 11 years old, he fled to Uganda with his uncle and cousins. 

The family came to the United States in late 2014 as refugees. Jophi showed up to school every day, wearing a tie and eager to learn, but he struggled. He knew little English and hadn’t been to school a day in his life.

He had never slept in a real bed or had a room of his own. And he still wasn’t eating.

Now Jophi lives with Laura and her family in Ohio. He called Laura’s daughter, a refugee caseworker, asking for help finding a job and an apartment.

A month later, he was living with Laura’s family and he officially became their ward, although they prefer the word son.

Laura remembers having to teach him how to use a bed that first night.

After pulling down the comforter and showing him the blankets, he slid his hand between the top sheet and bottom sheet and said, “I sleep in HERE?”


The family packed MannaPack meals at MobilePack event last fall.

Jophi couldn’t stop talking about it, Laura said.

“He’s always saying, ‘You know that food, that food, that’s what they need. They don’t get enough in the refugee camps,’” she said.

Jophi is learning English quickly and doing well in school. He plays soccer on the high school’s varsity team.

A former ESL tutor, Laura helped Jophi learn to read. Her husband is a retired Marine. They raised their two adult daughters to love and serve others and are currently raising their 12-year-old son and Jophi the same way.

But Jophi has taught them as much, if not more, than they have taught him, Laura said.

“He brought a whole other culture into our home,” she said. “And there’s a whole other world out there that is hurting and needs help.”


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