John and Candy Davis were an extraordinary couple. What started out as a missionary trip ended up changing the lives of hundreds of children, particularly three black girls. People with pure hearts do good things without expecting to receive something back, but the way these girls chose to repay Candy is unbelievable.
When John Davis met Candy in their last year of college, it was a no-brainer that he had found the gem he had been looking for all his life. Here was a woman grounded in her faith with very strong values that he shared to a T. It was as if he had been tailor-made to fit into her life and walk right by her side.
For someone who had a missionary heart, finding the right companion was of the utmost importance. John had grown up in a family that had a heart for Africa, and from a young age, he had been exposed to missionary trips to various African countries. The poverty, suffering, and war-torn environment where children had to grow up deeply touched his heart. It was for this very reason that he wanted to work in Africa and make a difference, especially in the lives of orphaned children.
Candy too had known from a young age that she wanted to follow a career where she could live out her faith. She studied to be a teacher, as she felt this was the ideal place to influence a generation of children to live their lives to the fullest. When she met John, the picture was finally complete.
On their first missionary trip to Nigeria, three years into their marriage, the couple visited an orphanage in the small town of Otutula. There, they spent about a month helping to upgrade the facilities and empowering the local people with teaching materials and practical skills to try and make a living in extremely hard circumstances. The couple also fell in love with three orphan sisters and decided to adopt them and raise them back in America.
Adoption from African countries can be challenging and exhausting, but after almost a year of legal negotiations, the girls were finally placed into the custody of the Davis Family. During this year of negotiations, the village was practically their home, as the couple wanted to build a strong bond with the girls. When the adoption was finalized and the couple returned to the States, Modupe was seven years old, Bimpe was four, and Kioma only two.
Life back in the States provided better opportunities, but the transition for the girls was huge. For this very reason, Candy homeschooled the girls for the first two years to teach them the English language and help them with emotional challenges. One of the harder things the Davis family had to deal with was racial prejudice.
Even in the church, people could not understand how two white parents could choose to adopt three black girls. Some argued that there were enough white children in America also looking for a loving home who should have had precedence over the three African sisters. The children looked so different with their very dark skin and broken English.
Kiyoma had some health problems in her first years in America, and some people were even scared to come near her, although her illness was not contagious. But love has no color, and Candy and John never doubted their decision. For them, parenthood consisted of dirty diapers, lunch boxes, scrapes and bruises, learning to ride bikes, and teaching the children how to pray.
These were the same things they would have done if the girls were their biological children. Candy and John were steadfast in their convictions, and they truly loved these girls. After all, they were not planning to adopt any children from Africa when they first went there. Their choice had been an act of obedience. They believed that there was a higher divine plan, purpose, and destiny for these girls, although they did not know what it was yet. By faith, they would prepare the three sisters for whatever future was waiting for them.
Almost two years after the adoption of Modupe, Bimpe, and Kioma, John and Candy had a little girl of their own, whom they called Adebayo. It was a Nigerian name that meant “we asked for a girl.” Instead of receiving only one daughter, they now had four beautiful sisters to raise.
In the years that followed, the girls developed into four extraordinary human beings. They worked hard in school and excelled in many fields. The three adopted sisters had beautiful voices and sang harmoniously together. They became quite known in the church for their inspiring and soulful gospel songs. Adebayo wasn’t a singer, but she was a dancer from the moment she could stand upright. She was dancing to the music her older sisters made.
Life as black girls of Nigerian descent living in America was not without prejudice. The girls had to deal with insensitive remarks from strangers, but in time, they learned to cope with ignorance, racial discrimination, and rejection. Fortunately, there were also people who did not see the color of their skin but saw them simply as wonderful people created by God and divinely saved from an orphanage by a loving family.
When the Davis Family appeared in public, it would often cause a stir. Here was this beautiful couple with three dark-skinned girls with African hair. Then the little baby sister would appear, pale of skin with soft, flowy blonde hair, clinging to the hands of one of her sisters. The bond and love between this diverse family were tangible and acted as a shield against the blatant prejudice they had to face.
As the girls grew older, the Davis Family continued to do missionary work. At least once a year, they would visit the orphanage in Otutula, Nigeria. They were still involved in channeling resources to the orphanage, and their local congregation contributed generously to supplying clothing, blankets, and other necessities for staff and children.
The other reason why the Davis Family stayed involved with the orphanage was to give their three oldest girls the opportunity to stay in touch with their Nigerian heritage. Although they were fully integrated into American society, the parents wanted the girls to remember where they came from.
Fast forward a few years into the future when the girls were almost grown up. Modupe was in her late 20s and working as a nurse. She was known for her kindness, especially to underprivileged people who needed help. She would treat the president and the cleaner with the same level of respect and dignity. Bimpe’s name meant elegant and beautiful, and that was exactly what she became.
She was pursuing a music career and dreamed of recording a gospel album. She had studied Yoruba, one of the native languages spoken in Nigeria, and wanted to incorporate some of the language into her songs. Kioma was still studying to become a teacher. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother. It was Candy that had taught her about the value of education, perseverance, and love for children. She would one day love to teach underprivileged children, possibly even in Africa.
Adebayo was in the final phase of high school, and she was still dancing. The school was hosting an island concert as a fundraiser for one of the local shelters, and Adebayo was at the forefront of the organizing committee.
When the night of the concert finally arrived, John and Candy were sitting in the front row, proudly supporting their youngest daughter. Adebayo had a dance routine early in the concert. Various people in the community delivered excellent items, and the night was quite entertaining.
The big surprise came when the Master of Ceremonies announced that there was a special final event on the program dedicated to the two extraordinary
people in the community. When the curtain opened for the final event, you would not believe what happened next. This was a special item dedicated to a mother and father who had selflessly given 27 years of their life for their family. The mother, in particular, had given up her career to become a full-time caregiver for three children who hadn’t even come out of her womb.
To everybody’s surprise, Modupe, Bimpe, and Kioma Davis appeared on stage. The audience was brought to tears when the three girls sang an original song dedicated to Candy, with some lyrics in Yoruba. The song was about a mother rescuing three girls from growing up without guidance and love, and teaching them to love themselves and others in a world filled with prejudice and hate. The song was called “Mama Candy” and would become the title of their first album, released a year later.
Although love can never be repaid, it was a great honor for Candy to share this special moment with her three adopted girls from Nigeria, as well as her husband John and Adebayo, the little sister who unconditionally loved her older sisters.