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Huntington and Peyton family have connection to Zambia

May 27, 2019

Zambia came to Huntington last week, proving that it’s a small world after all.

“Huntington is a city of uncommon compassion,” said Protacial Mulenga, the district commissioner for the Sinazonge District of Zambia. “The people of Zambia want to recognize the generous people of Huntington for making such an enormous impact in the Gwembe Valley in Zambia.”

Christ Temple Church of Huntington sends money and people to the struggling country of Zambia. Mulenga said the assistance his country has received includes a medical clinic, clean water, solar power, tractors, drip irrigation and education, which has shown his people a better way of life and helped to relieve human suffering.

“Our country is in a better place economically, physically and spiritually thanks to your wonderful city,” Mulenga said. “Without Huntington and its compassionate people we would be far less than we are now.”

As I read the Zambian story in The Herald-Dispatch, I remembered my Aunt Candy.

What? You’ve never heard of my Aunt Candy? Then you haven’t read all my columns.

She is the pride of the Peyton family. I call her Aunt Candy but she was Claudia Peyton, the youngest of 10 siblings in my Grandpa Will Peyton’s family.

As the youngest female in her family, tradition said she was to remain a spinster and take care of her father, Solomon Peyton, in his old age until his death.

It didn’t work that way. One day in her teenage years, she said she was walking along Cyrus Creek in eastern Cabell County when God spoke to her in a clear voice and told her she was to go to Africa as a missionary.

Her family said no, but it didn’t stop her. The young girl who got the name “Candy” because of her skill at making candy for the entire Cyrus Creek community struck out for Cincinnati where she attended God’s Bible School, an institution that trained men and women for the mission fields.

When she finished her schooling, she applied to the Sudan Interior Mission group to be a missionary in Africa.

Her request was turned down. They said she was too tiny and weak to live more than a year in Africa. Besides she wasn’t married.

That didn’t stop her. She worked in a Cincinnati orphanage to earn enough money to get to Africa.

In the mid 1930s she arrived, alone and unsponsored, in Northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia.

She thought she would spread God’s word throughout Africa. Instead, she founded an orphanage in the bush outside Choma, Zambia, and adopted more than 20 orphans, who took the Peyton name, while preaching the gospel in and around where she lived and doing what she could to improve the economy.

She returned to America only once before dying in the mission compound at Siachitema after a long life of service and sacrifice in her adopted nation of Zambia. I met her on that trip.

At her death in 1984, she was buried under a baobab tree on the mission compound.

Aunt Candy’s spirit is alive and well at Christ Temple Church and in the people of Huntington who still strive to help the struggling nation.

Thank you, Aunt Candy. Thank you, Christ Temple Church. And thank you, Huntington.

Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address is davepeyton@comcast.net.

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