Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coming home

So we leave Kenya tonight.  I cannot believe this summer is already over.  It has literally flown by.  But we are so thankful for the opportunity to have spent the summer in Kenya with Life in Abundance.  We have all learned so much about ourselves, about ministry/missions, and about God.  As our journey home comes closer and more of a reality (it’s literally hours away), the harder it is for me to leave.  However, I know that this summer has been a time for preparation and now I have to go home and implement what I have learned into the community that God has entrusted me with in Louisville.

One thing that I think we all have learned or been reminded of this summer is that the gospel has to permeate every single area of our lives.  The gospel has to be central and then everything flows from it.  I know that the gospel is supposed to touch every single area and moment of my life, but putting that into practice is difficult at times.  We have been blessed by getting to know so many people here in Kenya and we have been able to see how they live their lives.  Christ is glorified in everything they do.  For them ministry is their life.  Ministry is something you do regardless of whether you are getting paid to do it or not.  The love and truth of Christ is evident in every single activity they carry out and every interaction they have with other people.  For them ministry is something they were doing before they came to work at Life in Abundance.  So now the challenge for us is to be in prayer and be in step with the Spirit as he guides us to live out the gospel with our whole lives

So as our journey comes to an end, I’ve cried countless times and I know that more tears will be coming when we actually say good-bye.  I’ve been thinking about why I am so emotional about leaving.  I know for sure that one of the reasons is that I’m going to miss my family here in Kenya.  I have had the pleasure of getting to meet new people here in Kenya and building relationships with them.  Also, I have had the opportunity to build on relationships that started 2 years ago when I was here.   However, I also realized that Kenya holds a special place in my heart because so much of my spiritual growth is rooted in Kenya.  I’ve grown so much spiritually and grown so much in my identity over the past 2 years and once I took the time to reflect it all stems from my first trip to Kenya in 2010 and my second trip in 2011. 

Before my trip in Kenya in 2010, I didn’t get emotionally invested in things.  I was able to just close myself and my heart off.  I didn’t realize that I was robbing myself of some great relationships and friendships.  In Kenya, their culture puts a strong emphasis on relationships.  Relationships come before a lot of things, especially time, and while in Kenya God showed me the importance of investing in people, spiritually and emotionally.  After that trip he put opportunities in my life where I had no choice but to invest in people’s lives.  As he taught me the importance of investing my heart into where he has placed me, he also opened up my heart so that I could fully love and fully invest into the people he had placed in my life.  It’s hard to open your heart and become emotionally invested especially when you know that your time in that place will soon come to an end.  It’s vulnerable and it’s hard to transition, but it’s worth it.  Even though I am going to shed so many tears tonight, I have been rewarded and blessed by the relationships that I have built while being here.  

Growing relationally is just one of many roots I have in Kenya, but that one means the most to me right now. While we are all excited to see our friends and family, it will be hard to say good-bye to the people that have been our family over these past 3 months.  We are so thankful for this opportunity to spend the summer in Kenya.  We all are aware that this opportunity is unmatched and should not be taken for granted.  We have all grown so much as individuals and as a team.  We thank you all for your prayers and support as we took this journey.  We thank God for walking alongside us, for molding us, and for his infinite grace as we tried to figure out how to depend on him and how to follow him.

Mungu Akubariki, 

Monday, July 30, 2012

We love because He first loved us...

Hey everyone, Amy here!
So last week the Mi2: Kenya team spent a week serving at a Christian, mission hospital called A.I.C. Kijabe Hospital.  The point of serving here was to spend time experiencing missions in a different context other than LIA so that we could compare the way they do missions and see other ways in which missions can be accomplished. 

I was slightly dreading this week because I am not medically gifted at all so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do much.  However, God proved me wrong yet again and taught me so much during this week at Kijabe.  I spent most of my time visiting patients in the pediatric ward.  I built many relationships with moms and their children and their eyes would light up every time I came to see them, not because it’s me and I’m awesome, but because people just want to be known.  They just want to know that people care about them.   I was hesitant about going to the pediatric ward because it breaks my heart to see sick children.  What I wasn’t expecting was that I was more broken for the mothers of these children.  For a majority of these children, they have undergone major surgery and/or the diagnosis of these children remains a mystery.  As a mother (I’m assuming since I am not a mother myself) you just want to make things better for your child, you want to protect them at all costs.  You want to take away their pain and tell them it’s all going to be okay.  For these mothers, they can’t do anything to help their children get better besides be there with them 24/7.  As we were talking to these mothers, you could see in their eyes how much they love their children and at the same time you could see how they are just plagued with uncertainty about their child’s health to their family at home to the medical expenses being provided.
There were two mothers that absolutely gripped my heart and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to talk with them, to hear their hearts, to show them the love of Christ, and to pray with them.  The first mother is called Martha and her daughter is called Milkah.  Milkah is 15, paralyzed, and completely unable to communicate.  She was in the hospital for bed sores.  As we were talking to Martha, Bonsai talked about how in heaven Milkah will be able to walk and jump and praise her Savior.  Tears just started to roll silently down her cheek.  Martha didn’t say any words, but I could see in her eyes that she was just spent and exhausted.  I could tell the enormous amount of love she had for her daughter and that she was heartbroken that her daughter would never have a “normal” life.  I could see in her eyes how exhausted and burdened she was.  I visited her a couple times and prayed for her-both of us crying, of course.  I prayed that she would fully cast her burden on Jesus and to find rest in him.  I told her that Jesus sees her and he is walking with her and Milkah.  I told her that Milkah is a blessing and that God entrusted his daughter Milkah to her because he knew that no one else would be able to love Milkah like she would and does.  

Another mother and daughter I fell in love with is a woman called Josephine and her daughter named Flovy.   Flovy is 12 years old and was a normal 12 year old until January when she suddenly was unable to walk.  Josephine and Flovy have been in and out of the hospital for months trying to figure out what is wrong with Flovy.  All they know is that it is a spinal problem.  The first thing I noticed about Josephine was the insane amount of joy she had.  There was no question that this woman loved Jesus.  We talked with her about Flovy and though there was so much uncertainty and so many questions, Josephine kept saying how she is trusting God-trusting God to give the doctor’s wisdom in treating Flovy, trusting God to heal Flovy, trusting God to provide her, Flovy, and her family at home with strength and peace, and trusting God to provide the medical expenses (even though her husband does not have a job).  This woman’s faith is strong!  Before we prayed for them, I bent down to talk to Flovy (who is BEAUTIFUL) and I asked her how she was.  She started to say “good”, but stopped.  I could tell that she wanted to say more but she didn’t know how to put it into words.  However, I could see in her eyes that she was struggling, that she was full of questions.  I can only imagine how she felt—one day you are just a normal 12 year old and then one day you can’t walk.  Preteen and teenage years are hard enough when you aren’t sick, but being 12 and suddenly unable to walk is devastating to one’s self-esteem.   We prayed over them and asked God to continue giving them joy, strength, and hope.  The best part though happened after we moved on to the next bed.  As we were talking to the next mom, we heard singing behind us.  Josephine was lying next to Flovy with a hymn book opened and she was singing hymns to Flovy.  She was encouraging Flovy with praises to God.  I was so impressed and encouraged by Josephine’s faith. 

My time in the pediatric ward was emotionally exhausting, but one of the most rewarding experiences of the summer.  These mothers are burdened with so much and are so worried about their children, but they cannot do anything to help them.  Most of them are far from home and their husbands are at home working and taking care of the other children.  They just need to know that they are loved and that they are not in this alone.  They needed someone to come and share the burden with them for a bit.  I didn’t know any of these women, but God gave me a love for them—a love for them like his.  A love that’s unconditional.  A love that requires you to pour yourself out, to spend yourself on behalf of the broken and the hurting, but there is absolutely nothing in it for you.  There was no benefit for me to love these women and their daughters, but I allowed God to love them through me, I acted in obedience to Jesus’s command to “love one another”, and I loved selflessly; and, I have never felt closer to the Father’s heart.  I’ve never been so fulfilled or full of joy.  God is so good.

Though I learned this week that my place in missions is definitely within the community rather than in a hospital, missions requires us to selflessly love every single moment or every single day.  Missions isn't about going and serving God in a really cool place, it's about pouring yourself out over and over again on behalf of others.  I'm thankful that God used Kijabe, a place where I wasn't sure I could really serve him, to use me in ways that I never imagined and to teach me 

Friday, July 27, 2012


Wow! What a great week we had volunteering at A.I.C. Kijabe Hospital, a big missions hospital located near or in the Rift Valley (beautiful place, by the way). I think I was amazed at how nice it was and how caring the staff was. Of course, you would expect these things in any hospital but care is not so caring in a lot of places.

They had a need for people to help the kitchen staff so that’s where I spent the majority of the week. They were a hoot and I had so much fun working with them. They work hard too…I never knew how much work went into hospital cooking. One of the things I enjoyed helping with was sorting through beans. They come in large bags that have to be sorted through because they have stones mixed in which I guess happens in the gathering process. We also took out any bad beans from the mix. So first, you pour some of the beans out onto a sifter board which is supposed to take out the smaller stones. The next step is to gather some beans onto a tray and go through it section by section, removing what isn’t supposed to be there. It is a tedious process but I couldn’t help smiling and saying, “thank you, Lord” because it meant that a patient wouldn’t chomp down on a rock when eating his or her meal. Along with sorting I also helped them wash and rinse dishes, cut potatoes, roll chapatis, make tea, and serve the patients.

That brings me to another thing I really enjoyed, which was going with some of the staff to serve the patients in the wards. The picture to the left is of Elizabeth (one of my faves). It was awesome…I felt almost like I was back at Longhorn, serving. They put the food into large containers and place them on trollies to take to the wards. One goes to the men’s and women’s wards, another goes to maternity and pediatrics, and the last goes to the private ward. There are other kitchens too, they said, but ours catered to those wards specifically. Each patient is served from the trolley according to their dietary restrictions/needs and their preferences too. And the food is good! Even the batches they make without salt are probably awesome. It was great to see that the kitchen staff is able to interact with the patients they cook for and that they love what they do. They joke with the patients and make them smile. When we went around with the food, I had patients trying to adopt me as their last-born daughter and many times I was spoken to in Swahili. I did learn some words whenever we would take tea and porridge though. You have your tea (chai), porridge (ugi), and your tea with no sugar (dufia). So whenever it was tea time I would just strain my ears to catch one of those words haha so that the patient got what they asked for. But I was with a kitchen staff member, too, so I just asked for his/her help when I didn’t understand. They were so nice. It was hard to see the patients though because a lot of them are in pain but Kijabe Hospital is really a great place for them to be. All of the staff members are Christians and the chaplains are always present during the interviews. The wards have devotions early in the mornings and begin their days with prayer. And the chaplains are always around to pray with patients, encourage them, counsel them, and spread the Gospel. And they all really care from what I saw.

Above: Kimber and I (Rebecca) posing with some of the staff before we left...

For a couple of days I also volunteered in the nursery. There were a good number of premature babies (maybe 6) that needed breathing assistance and some having to be fed by tubes running to their stomachs. One of them was so tiny! And, the last day I was there an even smaller baby was born –28 weeks old. Wow…I helped one the the nurses, Christine, feed some of the babies, change linens, and anything else she needed assistance with. Some of the other babies in there just hung out because the moms were healing from C-sections or other things and didn’t feel well enough to keep the babies in their beds and feed them. Christine has a very stressful job…I don’t think I could handle it. At one point she had to assist one of the doctors by holding a baby still while he put a needle in her back to get a sample of spinal fluid if I’m not mistaken. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. And little Ruth was screaming her little head off…yea…but thank God for those who are called to be in those areas.

But I think the best part in all of this was being able to talk with an encourage one of the moms, Josephine. She was the sweetest lady. When I talked to Pastor Sylvia about talking to some of the moms she told me Josephine would like a visit and pointed to her baby in the nursery. He wasn’t premature but he couldn’t breathe on his own so he had tubes running everywhere to monitor him and help him breathe. There was a scare at one point with him in the day but Christine got him stabilized. Scary. I went to meet Josephine that afternoon but there were a number of things that got in the way so she asked me to come back tomorrow. “Tomorrow”meant our departure day so I told her that I would try. So when the group got to the hospital that next morning to say bye to the pastors, Pastor Sylvia told me that Josephine was still expecting me and that her baby had been taken to I.C. U. yesterday evening. So, while the group said their goodbyes I went to see her. As soon as she started talking she began to tear up. She is so strong though and her faith in God and prayers has kept her going…I talked with her and encouraged her to keep trusting God, that He has a plan for it all, and prayed with her. That sweet baby boy. She and her husband haven’t even named him yet. I pray that they are all discharged soon, healthy and strong. I gave her my email address and she told me that she would let me know how the baby was doing. She was just so thankful for me coming to see her. She said, “thank you for remembering me.”That really touched my heart. It’s amazing how powerful visiting someone is and letting them know that you care and are praying for them.

It was hard to say goodbyes to everyone. I feel like I really connected with them and the week went by way too fast. Kijabe will be missed. I hope to go back one day. I'm thankful for the way God used us this week. I know we all learned a lot and were able to connect with those at the hospital and encourage them. Thanks, Lord.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mosquitos Can't Stop Christ

Bonsai (James B) here.  I haven’t blogged in a while but I had to blog about the amazing first part of the week in Kisumu! 

We had been in Kisumu since last Friday.  The mosquitos are so many, but we haven't let that get us down.  For almost all of us, Kisumu has been our favorite place to visit so far.  Oke (pronounced oh-kay), Ephantis (aka Fanta), Mary, Moses, Jacob, and Dr. Christine work for LIA in Kisumu.  LIA works in two slums in Kisumu, Objunga and Nylenda.  We spent Friday-Monday in Obunga, and are spending Tuesday-Sunday in Nylenda.  I am just going to blog about our time in Obunga for now and let another Mi2 blog about Nylenda when we get back to Nairobi. 

Objunga slums are new for LIA, as they have only been working there for six months to see if LIA could do a longer-term commitment.  They started with 13 churches interested but only eight churches were dedicated enough (through completing seed projects, going through TOT training, and meeting with the other churches) to be partners with LIA.  Since this is such a new area for LIA, we were the first missions team that these pastors have gotten to work with through LIA. 

Friday: We went to Church of God of Prophesy where we met pastors and/or TOTs (Trainer of Trainers, they are the people in the churches who LIA trains to train others on how to do community health evangelism) for most of the eight churches that LIA has been working with in Obunga.  We had a praise and prayer meeting and then because they knew we were really tired, called it a day around 2 so that we could rest and get settled in and prepared for Saturday. 

Saturday: We did bota bota and fish guts evangelism.  A bota bota is a bicycle or a motorcycle taxi.  Since the roads are not as busy as Nairobi, most people travel the city using these because they are cheaper than the motorized taxis.  We went to a nearby bota bota deport where the drivers wait for people to come and solicit a ride.  Most drivers were willing to hear our message and God used me to lead a few of them to Christ.  It was really encouraging!  While Pastor Mark and I were letting the Spirit lead us there, the others went off to a place near a fish fillet factory.  They make frozen fish fillets and the parts of the fish that they don’t use, they give to people waiting nearby that scrapes every last bit of fish and guts out so they can cook them in patties to feed their families.  Jim and Amy were together, but since Amy hates fish, her stomach was not too happy about the very fishy smell. 

For me personally, evangelism has been my favorite part of being in Kenya because we do not normally get the opportunity to practice with people that are as willing to listen as the people in Kenya.  I had not actively evangelized to people back in the US before coming to Kenya, so being here has definitely eliminated the barrier that I had attached to evangelizing. 

Later Saturday, the Pastor’s Fellowship of Obunga and the Mi2s got the opportunity to play football (soccer) against the local community youth (ages 10-18ish).  It was so much fun!  For the first half, Rebecca was our goalie and she stopped quite a few balls.  Jim, Kimber and Daniel mainly played defense and they were really good.    All three of them would chase an offensive player and kick the ball right back out of our side of the field.  I thought that I would be capable of playing midfield, which means that I would switch between offense and defense depending on where the ball was.  However, since I have done very little exercising since getting to Kenya, my stamina was definitely not where it needed to be.  At halftime the score was 3-0.  After halftime, Kimber started as goalie, but very quickly a broad husky Kenyan took over for her.  This dude was very built, which I thought would slow him down.  That turned out not to be the case, as somebody shot at the goal and I see him diving across the goal to intercept the ball, with his head!!  It was very very very impressive and I was so happy that we had that Kenyan on our team.  After that block, we eventually were able to score a goal out of luck when another Kenyan on our team kicked the ball towards their goal midfield, but they weren’t quite ready and the thing rolled in.  The entire crowd (about 30-40 people) just let out a huge cheer that the American/Pastors team finally scored a goal!  Even the other team was laughing because we got really lucky that we made that goal.  The final score ended up being 5-2 with the local team winning, but both sides had a great time.  Pastor Barrack circled all the youth and community up and it gave us (we volunteered Daniel to speak on our behalf) the opportunity to share Christ with the community.  We then presented the youths with a trophy for winning. 

Pastor Barack then invited everybody in the community to come to one of the three churches we would be at.  Even though Pastor Barack was pastor of Great Commission Ministries, he never mentioned which of the three churches was his.  Pastor Barack just told people where the churches were and to attend the church closest to their house.  It might seem insignificant, but that was HUGE.  When you are trying to get churches to work together, for pastors to be selfless like that speaks volume.  It builds trust with the other pastors that they are all in this together and it shows the community that the churches are working together and are truly concerned for them, not just about their money.  This is something that the church in America could really learn from. 

Sunday:  We went to three different churches.  Amy and I went to visit Tehila Gospel Church, Jim and Rebecca went to Azula Ministries, and Kimber and Daniel went to Great Commission Ministries.   Amy, Jim, and Daniel all delivered sermons, while Rebecca, Kimber, and I shared testimonies are our respective churches.    

Later Sunday, all eight churches in the Pastor’s Fellowship met at New Testament Church for a revival service.  It was a really good service.  Daniel preached about the components of a revival saying “If a revival were a building, it would be made of these materials….” He is really good a relating a message to language that everybody would understand.  Daniel ended his sermon by calling people to go out and take the revival to the people.  Pastor Mark at the end did an alter call (something that happens at almost every Kenyan church service) for people who wanted to commit to going out into the community so that Daniel and I could pray for them.  Ten people came forward and it was so awesome being able to feel God using me to motivate these people by praying for them.  I could feel the completeness Holy Spirit in a way as I was praying that I will not soon forget. 

Monday:  This was our last day in Obunga slums.  On this day though, Oke and Ephantis were going around to all of the churches to sign partnership agreements on behalf of LIA to officially the eight churches that LIA would walk with them and provide training for them for the next three years.  It was so awesome being able to be at each church and see the joy in the Pastors face when the work their congregations have undertaken these past six months is paying off by LIA agreeing to stand behind them for the next three years. 

At the end, we had a goodbye ceremony where representatives from all of the churches gave testimonies about what they witnessed having the Mi2s in Obunga.  One of the best testimonies was given by Church of God of Prophecy, where they said that the community respecting the Pastors more that they had Americans guests visiting.  It is said here in Africa that visitors are a blessing.  The Pastors said that people asked why we were here and it gave them an opportunity to share the Gospel to people who they had not been able to reach before.   This was extremely encouraging that just our presence in this community helped open people’s hearts to the Gospel. 

Overall, this was the best community that we had been to by far.  The Pastors fellowship has really embraced the concept of “The Church” whereas we are all part of Christ’s church and that completion is not productive.  As teachers of the Mi2s, the pastors were really engaging, they had a lot of stuff planned to pour into us and keep us busy, and they gave us the opportunity to actually go and do stuff (like evangelize).  It was just an overall great experience!  At the end they were sad that we had to go, but I told them that I am sure LIA will bring more short-term teams back because of their amazing hospitality.  We definitely met some amazing people and our entire team was really encouraged by Obunga slums. 
Moral of the story: Christ works through mosquitos?  Only kidding, but it is so, so cool to see everything that is going on here and I know that if we were to visit again next year, we would see so so so much more done.  Kenya=Awesome!!   

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

James 1:27

Last week while in Kisumu, we visited an orphanage called New Life Home Trust. The home primarily cares for abandoned and orphaned babies with priority given to those who are infected with HIV/AIDS. We heard many shocking stories and were witnesses of many miracles God had performed. At one point we heard of a baby being thrown into a pit latrine (a hole in the ground, used as a restroom).  Sadly, a lot of these babies are found in these pit latrines. Crazy. We then got the opportunity to feed the babies and as much fun as it was, it was tough work. As I walked into one of the rooms and saw all these sleeping babies, I never would have guessed that they were abandoned. In all honesty, I sort of forgot. After feeding the babies, I went down to the special needs unit. There was a 6 year old boy named Moses. He had Cerebral Palsy, but if you saw his smile, you never would have guessed that. As hard as it is to know that these children were abandoned, some have special needs, live in an orphanage, and could possibly have HIV/AIDS, it was really encouraging to see the light in their eyes and the hope in their futures. I am so grateful for all the staff there. They are doing an amazing job and transforming many children’s lives.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

The God Who Prepares

 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:1-2

Preach the word: whenever, wherever, to whomever, however. There is only one other option and that is silence. A silence that shouts of indifference to those whom might hear. A silence that screams of your selfishness that rationalizes your silence.

We are God’s ambassadors. Ambassadors speak the message of the King.

We are filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s one thing the Holy Spirit makes people do throughout the book of Acts and all of Christian history and that is speak.

Yet I (Daniel), and most likely, many of you have remained silent at times when God has urged us to speak. The events have been orchestrated, the audiences prepared, and yet our mouths remained empty of any Good News. But why? Why would we keep this Gospel to ourselves? Why would we not carry out the will of our Savior?

Fear. Fear of what they might say. Fear of how they might react. But more often, fear that we will not know what to say. We want to be prepared. We want to have every answer for every question. We want our outlines and notes prepared. We want the details of our speaking engagement and a survey of the audience we will be speaking to. We want to be prepared. And so we remain silent until we are.

The reality is we are prepared. Our past, our experiences, and our personality have prepared us for the work God is calling us to.

The ten days I spent in Kisumu were a crash course in realizing this. Of the nine times I spoke in front of a group only four times did I know the night before that I was speaking the next day.

Sometimes these unprepared messages were short and simple. I was asked to share the Gospel message to the group of kids we played soccer (football in non-American English) with.

Other times God seemed to simply be having fun with me. I found out at lunch that I was to give a word at a revival that afternoon. Ok, I can do that. A word in my mind translates to about 10-15 minutes. That I can do. When I got to the revival the pastor asked me how long I expected to take. I still had no clue what I would speak about so I asked him how long he was expecting me to take, his reply, “Around forty minutes.” Apparently a word in Kenya means 40 minutes worth of words . But God was faithful; He provided me with a message that not only proclaimed the Gospel to those who had not heard it, but which challenged those who have already believed.

And one time I could clearly see that God had clearly been preparing me for what I didn’t even know was coming. We were supposed to speak at a leadership seminar. Jim said he had it covered so I went to bed glad that I would have the day off from speaking. But when we got up, Jim was sick, leaving the seminar without a speaker. I volunteered thinking I would be a speaker in the seminar, but of course that thought was also proved incorrect as I was the speaker for the seminar. But God was faithful. Two semesters ago I took Leadership in Ministry at Ozark; God was already preparing me. Then earlier in the summer I had felt compelled to reread Bill Hybels book Courageous Leadership; God definitely prepared me.
No matter how unprepared I felt, God had arranged experiences and circumstances in my past that prepared me to deliver His message to the people put in front of me: people varying from church leaders to 150 primary school students. I didn’t think I was prepared, but God had prepared me.

He brought me into the situation. He prepared me. I did not have an opportunity to back down. I had no escape route. There was no plan b. All I had to do was open my mouth and speak. Speak His words of truth and life, speak his Good News to the nation, and speak whatever words the Holy Spirit lead me to speak. Though I did not consider myself prepared, it did not matter, God just wanted me to open my mouth; He supplied the words.
There is no excuse to not preparing when there is time allotted for preparation. But often ministry happens in the interruptions, when God places an opportunity into our lap unexpectedly. In those moments we must simply speak and let God take over. To remain silent is to silence the voice of God calling out to His children, “I love you.”

So speak. By all means speak. Do not back down. And when you are faced with a situation where you feel you cannot speak because you are not prepared, for the sake of those before you, open your mouth and let the Spirit speak.

Playing with kids in Thika!

  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
-Proverbs 22:6

While we were in Thika, we visited a nursery school started and run by one of the churches whom LIA is a partner.  The churches LIA is working with in Thika all recognize the need for an effective children’s ministry in each of the churches.  Most of the churches have more kids than adults, and sadly most of the childrens’ parents do not attend church with their child.  The church has recognized that it is their responsibility to pour into these children and to guide them in the truth of the gospel. 

Anyway, at the nursery school the children were 1-3 years old and they stayed there during the day while their parent(s) went about their daily business.  The pastor charges the parent(s) 20 schillings a day.  On the walls throughout the room there were posters with the alphabet, pictures and names of animals, numbers, etc.  I got to talk to the pastor of the church that is overseeing this nursery school and I was so encouraged by his heart and vision for this nursery school/children’s ministry.  His vision for this school was for a place where kids get taught about Christ and a place where they are taught the basics so that they will be fully equipped for primary school.  He also told me that they found out that most of the parents could not afford to send lunch with their child so the pastor’s wife cooks EVERYDAY for those children. This nursery school and the vision for effective children’s ministry in all the churches really showed the churchs’ hearts for children and their recognition of the importance of training and raising up children in the way of Christ.  These children are the future of the church.

At the nursery school Jane, Steve (works in Kibera), and I got to feed some of the kids their lunch.  Rebecca played games outside with the kids.  Kimber chatted with the pastor while she held a napping baby in her arms.  Daniel, Bonsai, and Jim awkwardly tried to figure out how to interact with the kids.  Besides the kids being scared because we looked different from them, every time Jim looked at a child it started to cry—except toward the end one child grabbed his hand for 10 seconds!  It was funny watching the boys interact with the kids.  They eventually got slightly more comfortable.  We all played games with the children and then we had to go.  I loved seeing these children being poured into and being rooted in their identity in Christ at such a young age.  I also appreciated how much the pastor, his wife, and the lady watching the kids loved them and cared for them as if they were their own.

In Christ, 

The Church

Hey everyone it’s Amy!!!!

So on Tuesday we returned to Nairobi from a long weekend in Thika, specifically in a rural slum community called Kiandutu.  We only had a short time there to experience and learn what LIA is doing through the local churches in Kiandutu, but thankfully our God is not limited by time.  God taught all of us so much and opened our eyes up so much in the few days we had in Kiandutu. 

In every community LIA enters into one of the first things they do is unite the local churches so that they are working together.  The fruit of this is that a Pastor’s Fellowship is formed and the pastors meet once a week to pray, be trained, and to plan/discuss how they can continue to serve the community.  In every community we’ve been to so far, we have had the opportunity to meet with all the pastor’s fellowships, and I can honestly say that the pastor’s fellowship in Thika was the strongest that I’ve witnessed so far.  I was so encouraged by their unity, their commitment, and their hearts for transformation.  They had not only grasped LIA’s vision and model of empowerment, but they were running after that vision full force.  One of the pastors told me that they were more of a family than a group of pastors.  I was just really encouraged by that because these pastors have realized that they can impact this community in bigger ways if they work together than if they were to work alone.  These pastors come from all different backgrounds, regions, denominations, etc but they have not let those differences blind them from their goal of exalting Christ in their community and addressing the needs of Kiandutu. 

Along with the pastor’s fellowship, there are also the TOT (Trainer of Trainers) team and the CHE (Community Health Evangelists)team working alongside the pastors and LIA.  These teams are made up of church members mostly and others in the community.  The TOT team and the CHE team in Kiandutu shared the same commitment, vision, and unity that the pastors did.  Every CHE oversees a couple families in Kiandutu that are considered the poorest in the community.  The commitment of the CHEs was clearly seen during home visits.  The CHE that was with my group introduced each family to us and it was so clear that she had taken the time to invest in these families so that they were known and loved by her.  I could really sense that she spends a lot of time weekly visiting these families and just encouraging them.  I was so encouraged to see how committed this CHE was to her role in community transformation.  I know that God has put this team together in Kiandutu and that his glory and transforming power is going to be made known in that community and beyond. 

Our time in Thika really taught me the importance of unity within the body of Christ.  These individuals are all so vastly different, yet they are all united by Christ.  And because they are united by Christ they are committed to making his glory known and serving to bring about community transformation.  I think about all the churches in Louisville. If all these churches were to put denomination differences aside, unite to make Christ known in Louisville, and address the many needs in our city--how big would that impact be?  One church in Louisville can make a small difference, but many churches united and working together in the power of the Holy Spirit would make a much bigger difference.  We may all meet in different buildings, that is the local church, to worship, but we are all part of one body--Christ's body.  

"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him
to be head over everything for the church, which is his body,
the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."
Ephesians 1:22-23 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Last week, we had the privilege of spending time in Mathare, which is another slum in Nairobi. It is half the size of Kibera, but there are still a great deal of people living there. One of the pastors told us the population is about 600,000.

Mathare has a completely different feel than Kibera, though they are similar in a lot of ways. The poverty is clear but Mathare is more developed. And, it was safer for us to walk around, so we got a better idea of what is going on. I asked one of the guys what he thought was the biggest problem in Mathare for the youth and he quickly said, "unemployment...there are no jobs." You see a lot of people that are idle, and one might be quick to assume that they are just lazy but the majority just can't find jobs. So you find people idle, but it's not by choice. I did, however, see so many people selling various things. Everywhere you go, you can find someone trying to do something to provide for their families which is always encouraging. They might be selling maize, mandazi, shoes, clothes, beans, and/or all sorts of other things. I think that if some of the people without jobs could get some start-up capital, they could really make a business for themselves. The African people, if nothing else, are very creative and they love to work with their hands. I love it.

LIA has been in Mathare for about a year and a half. They are currently working with a group of youth and a group of women for economic empowerment. We got to hang out with the youth (ages 15-23) on Tuesday. They have a business together selling fresh juices in the market. So we got to wash, peel, and juice many fruits/veggies that day with them. We had paw paw, mango, pineapple, oranges, watermelon, carrots, beet root...I think that was everything. So, they sell the juices and share the love of Christ with the community. And then, they split the money amongst themselves. LIA has gotten them all savings accounts, and encourages them to save their money. Very cool.

On Wednesday and Thursday we spent time with the women's fellowship. I love them! They are so much like a family and Keziah and Beth (LIA staff in Mathare) were telling us that they just share and encourage one another openly. For their business they do a lot of bead work...purses, necklaces/bracelets, jewelry boxes, and they do some knitting too. We got to work on purses with them those two days. Most of the women are the sole providers for their families so it's great they have something to do that not only helps them economically but spiritually as well. This week was mainly a time of sharing and fellowship. I loved to hear from the women and to learn about their dreams and desires as we worked alongside them. They are very funny women and they love the Lord =)

Almost forgot - we went on home visits on Monday. They split us up and we went to one house each. Daniel and I were together with Pastor Jennifer and one of the young CHEs, Bernard. We visited the home of Jane...very sweet lady. She is there by herself doing the best she can to provide for herself and her two children. The father is not in their lives but she makes a living selling beaded pieces to a sandal-maker. I later found out that she's part of the women's fellowship, too! My face lit up when I saw her again on Wednesday lol because I thought I never would. At her home she showed us some of her work and it was stunning. We talked with her for a while and prayed for her needs and gave encouragement to her along with a bag of food items. Home visits are really something special. I wish we did them more in the US.

Friday is Mathare's prayer and fasting day so we joined them for that. And since it was the last Friday of the month, we took the Lord's Supper with them as well. It was a much needed time of prayer and reflection. And then we headed to Thika! Busy, busy, busy. The pastors were disappointed that we couldn't spend Sunday with them. =(

Thanks for reading, Rebecca.

Us with the youth and LIA Mathare staff after our morning of juicing =)

A Prayer for Kiandutu

Prayer is powerful. It is transformative. It is humbling. Prayer is also revealing. It is an action of opening up one’s heart and soul and pouring it out before God. One’s prayers will reveal what he or she is passionate about. You can learn a lot about people by hearing them bare all to their Savior and Sustainer.  On Monday July 2nd we had the opportunity to spend time in prayer with the Pastors, TOTs and CHEs of Kiandutu, the rural slum of Thika. In groups we lifted up the different needs of that community: children’s ministry, men to return to the Church, widows and widowers, poverty, and sickness. As we prayed it just appeared to be another typical day of prayer. For those who don’t know Monday is the day of prayer and fasting for LIA and the churches they work with. We have participated in these before and, though we were in a new location, it seemed to be playing out as we had experienced before. How silly of us to expect anything typical of God. When the Holy Spirit moves it is rarely predictable or typical but it is always incredible. As we finished this time of prayer, Daniel, one of the LIA staff in Thika, went outside and picked up a handful of soil. He brought it before the pastors and asked them to pray prophetically over this soil to redeem it for the glory of God. He asked the pastors to beseech God and declare a new name for that community; Kiandutu means place of jiggers, a type of flea that burrows into one’s skin.

Therefore we began to pray; the pastors in the center praying over the soil, and the rest in a circle around the pastors. Not a quiet private prayer that is commonplace in many evangelical churches in America. For those who don’t know, corporate prayer in Kenya means everyone prays out loud at the same time, and so we did. To the outsider it may have appeared strange. Many people were shouting, some crying, and a couple bodily moving around; one pastor actually almost unknowingly hit Amy in the face. But this action was not for show; it was simply the overflow of their hearts. As I mentioned earlier, prayer is revealing. In those minutes of prayer the pastors revealed to me one of the most heartfelt displays of passion I have ever seen. Tears were shed because they were in pain for their community. Voices lifted and shouts were raised because they could not stand for their community to remain the same. Every word expressed love for their congregations. Each petition was a powerful display of passion. Even though the Amen may have finished the vocalized prayer, I am certain it is still continuing in the hearts of those pastors.

For me (Daniel) this experience was convicting. Having seen the passion of the pastors for their community I wondered, do I even have half of that amount of passion for my own community? Or have I become content with where my community is? Have I forgotten God’s transforming power and relinquished all hope for change? Do I truly love the people in my community or is it just something I say? Do you?

If so, pray that God will bring transformation; live passionately knowing that you pray to Him who is able to do more than you could ask or imagine. But if not, pray that God’s love and passion may fill your heart.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


So it’s Kimber here…

I first just wanted to say Thank You to everyone who helped support all of us. Without you guys (and God of course) this opportunity could not be possible. This experience has already impacted all of us significantly and we have already learned so much.

Last week, we were focused mainly at the LIA clinic in Kibera. All the people from the clinic attended training with us so it was great catching up and seeing them in “action”. The clinic was also located on the same grounds of a small, primary school. I really enjoyed playing with the kids and just loving on them. While there, we got the opportunity to sit with some 5th and 6th graders and talk to them. They asked us some pretty tough questions. Talking with them broke my heart as well as opened my eyes. These kids seemed so much older than they really were. When you think about it, many of these kids live in a small hut with their entire family. They are exposed to everything that goes on inside their home; what their parents watch on TV, how their older siblings talk… One of the questions a little girl asked was, “Why are you guys rich and we are poor?” Try answering that how a 10 year old could understand. Training equipped us for this answer by explaining the definition of poor. There are many types of poor: physical, emotional, spiritual, etc… In America, many of us are considered “rich” but which type? We can be physically rich but if we are spiritually poor aren’t we still at square one?  We told them that while we do have materially poor people in America, we have many other types of poor.  A lot of people are spiritually poor and emotionally poor.  Some people have all the money in the world, but they aren’t happy. 

6 Americans at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kenya with a Somali.

Although the Somali country director’s background is Somali, he lived in Ethiopia for a lot of his life, so on Wednesday he treated us to an Ethiopian dinner. The atmosphere was so perfect, I actually felt like I was on vacation. He ordered for us because we had no clue what was happening on the menu. When our food came, there was so much! Traditional Ethiopian food is like some meat and some sauces and some other stuff served on top of injera. Injera is this bread-like stuff that serves as your utensils. You just dip it in the meat or whatever you feel like dipping it in. Oh yeah, Ethiopian food is eaten community style so we all just ate off two large plates. All the stuff you dip the injera in is served on top of more injera! We tried to finish it all, but it was so much food! After dinner, we had Ethiopian coffee. The coffee was so flavorful because they prepare it some special way that only Jim could explain (he’s our coffee expert). Coffee was served under a little tent where we sat on little stools. It was a really intimate setting and we enjoyed just sitting around and being a family together. We also shared coffee with 2 other people-one was a girl named Addis and the other was a guy named Anzy. The country director shared Christ with Addis and we got the opportunity to hear about Anzy’s life. It was such a great night getting out of the apartment and immersing ourselves into yet another cultural experience.  

blessings from Somalia

Hey everyone! 
Love, grace, and peace from the Kenya-ers! 

So we have been in Kenya for 4 weeks now and I (Amy) have just been reflecting on everything that has happened, what God has taught us, and just the countless blessings He has poured out on us. One of the biggest blessings has been sharing a home with some of the LIA country directors. For the first 10 days the country directors from Sudan and Egypt stayed with us and this week, from Sunday to Thursday, the country director from Somalia stayed with us. We are so thankful for the opportunity and privilege to live with and get to know these amazing people from various countries. Countries that not only have completely different cultures than ours, but also countries that don’t experience same amount of freedom as we do—especially in the freedom to worship. We are so thankful for how these country directors openly shared their lives with us.  They were transparent in telling us their struggles and challenges, but they also passed on so much wisdom to us—wisdom that could only come from an intimate walk with the Lord and from their experiences. These country directors could have simply lived with us, but instead they took the short time they had to invest and pour into us. So so good.

As I said before, this past week the country director from Somalia stayed with us.  I’m not going to say  his name because of security, but he is fantastic.  I have had Somalia on my heart for the past year so when I found out that he was from Somalia I was so EXCITED! He told me how they are helping people affected by the famine, how they are helping orphans, and the struggles of building relationships and sharing Christ.  Despite all the challenges, he is one of the most joy-filled, energetic people I’ve ever met. He has such a close, intimate walk with Jesus.  It’s evident in his understanding and knowledge of scripture and by the way he carries himself and lives his life.  One night, he sat in on debrief and debrief turned into him just pouring into us. At one point, he talked about how much he loved the word of God.  He said that he would never leave Christianity, even if it was wrong, because that is how much he loves Jesus and His word.  This brought tears to my eyes especially as I reflected on my own walk. I want to know Jesus as intimately as he does. I want to have a love for the Word that leaves me hanging on every word and desiring to know more. Sadly, I haven’t put in the time and energy to grow that relationship with Christ.  He ended the night telling us about how the most important thing is to just love Jesus. Our ministry doesn’t matter; just love Jesus. When we do something for others, we do it simply because we love Jesus. At the end of the day, just love Jesus. We ended the night praying and just telling Jesus how much we love him. It was so powerful and way better than any prayer time we were planning on having. 

The four days with him were such a blessing. He shared his testimony with us and poured so much wisdom into us. I am eternally grateful for all that I learned from him.  Everything from the way he talked to the way he lived his life was modeled after Christ. He had so much wisdom and knowledge of God, but at the same time he has this child-like faith that I admire so much. It was so encouraging to hear how faithful God had been to him and how he has persevered despite the hostility to Christianity in Somalia. In America, we have a church on every corner and you can get a Bible almost anywhere—we have the freedom to seek Christ openly and to proclaim His truth to everyone, yet our lives don’t display that freedom. We can openly live out the gospel and we don’t, while our brother from Somalia doesn’t have the freedom to live out the gospel openly, but he does. He has much more at stake than we do. Our reputations might get tarnished, but his life and the life of his family is at stake. It just shows how much we take our freedom for granted. I’m encouraged by his testimony, but I’m convicted at the same time because my life needs to look drastically different. I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to share our home in Nairobi with ,him and I pray that I will get to visit him and serve with him in Somalia. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Makueni - Retrospective Thoughts

James: Our week in Makueni exposed us to part of the ministry LIA is involved in and the model they use (the CHE model) to effectuate holistic community change. We learned about and participated in construction projects, played with kids, and evangelized with the pastors (which wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be).  We saw the powerful effect a coalition of pastors and churches can have on a community, and already I'm anxious to see how I can encourage churches back home to effectively share the Gospel locally. It was comforting to be reminded that people are people, regardless of where they live and what perspectives they have; we're all under the same grace and love the same Jesus.

Overall, the time we spent with the pastors and members of their churches helped tremendously in further solidifying the understanding of how LIA operates we gained in the previous weeks' TOT training. 

Makueni Overview

Bonsai here.  Sorry for the long delay between posts, we had very limited internet access while we were in Makueni last week.  I am going to give a brief overview of what we did each day and then others will post more detailed experiences that they had while there. 

On the first Sunday we all went to a small (20 members) evangelical church called Amen Gospel Church. 

On Monday we met with the Pastor's Fellowship group, went to a school and played with like 200 kids, and went to Pastor Stephen's house for lunch with all the pastors and many of their families. 

On Tuesday we helped do construction on a building that is going to be used for a storeroom for grain and kerosene so the churches can buy grain and kerosene in bulk and sell it at a fair price all year so the townspeople  won't get taken advantage of by businessmen charging way too much during the dry season.

On Wednesday we did evangelism visits to people's houses with Pastors and LIA staff.  The Mi2s were Amy and I, Jim and Rebecca, and Daniel and Kimber.

On Thursday we went to a construction project at a church for a Pastor's house/church office.   There wasn't much the Mi2s were able to do because of lack of tools but Jim, Amy, Kimber, and I went on a donkey caravan to get water. 

On Friday we did home visits that turned into evangelism and I helped lead my first person to Christ! (more on this in a later post).  We also had a bonfire that night with Pastor Stephan and many of the youth from the town. 

On Saturday we met with an HIV/AIDS support group and prepared sermons.

On Sunday we all preached at different churches and had to say goodbye to Daniel and Margaret from LIA Makueni office and the Pastor's fellowship.  The pastors presented us with some REALLY cool gifts, too!

Makueni was so neat and it was so helpful having very little Internet access because it allowed us to focus on God more.   Look for many of us to be writing blog posts that summarize our best experiences from Makueni.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hey everyone! It’s Amy. First I’d just like to say thanks so much for keeping up with our blog.  It means so much to have people back home aware of what is happening over here in Kenya and to be praying for us.  Today we will be departing Nairobi and traveling to Makeuni to serve in the projects that LIA is in involved with there.  This is our first trip away from Nairobi and this is the first time we will really be engaging in ministry, so we need YOUR prayers!!
  •      Pray for team unity. God has really used these past two weeks to unify us and for us to really get comfortable with each other.  These past two weeks were absolutely necessary to prepare us as a team before we go out in the field—we couldn’t have gone out earlier and have been as unified as we are now.  But we also know that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy and we know that he will aim to divide us so pray that we stay unified.
  •      Pray that our hearts, minds, and souls will be completely vulnerable to Him.  That we would be completely open to His spirit’s leading.  That we will allow Him take over.  That we will be completely open to all that He has for us and all that He has to teach us.  We don’t want to miss out on anything.
  •      Pray that we He will give us His eyes.  That He will destroy any expectations or presuppositions that any of us have about the community, poverty, our role, slums, etc.  We want God’s perspective. We want to see this community and these people as He does and not from our American worldview.  That He will break our hearts for what breaks His.  That He will love the people through us.  That we will understand our roles as interns—vessels that have been entrusted with the gospel,  who are to live and breathe it in actions and words. 
  •     Pray that Jesus will be glorified.  That Jesus will be exalted.  That Amy, James/Jim, Bonsaii, Daniel, Kimber, and Rebecca won’t be seen, but rather that Jesus will be seen in our actions and words.  That God’s kingdom will invade Makeuni and that God’s will be done in Makeuni and in our lives. 

Thanks so much for your prayers! The power of prayer is unfathomable and we have definitely seen the evidence of your prayers in these first two weeks! We love you all so much!
-The Kenya-ers

P.S.   We won’t have access to internet for the 8 days-ish so that’s why you won’t be hearing from us!
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and forevermore. Amen

Friday, June 8, 2012

Graduation Day!!!

Bonsai (James B.) here.  What a week we have had!  This was our last week of our Training the Trainers training.  On Tuesday they took us on a field visit to Kibera Slums.  It is the largest slum in Africa and we saw just a minuscule part of it where LIA is working.  They have a health clinic that a fellowship of churches are running with LIA's help for just a little bit longer.  There are also community health evangelists (which are the members of the churches) that go out into the community and teach good health practices and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ through home visits. 

We also saw a shoe project where residents are taught on the equipment to make these really neat flip-flops that they are initially sending to a company in the United States to sell.  That contact is almost over though, so they are exploring other ways to sell the shoes.  It not only provides income for residents now, but gives them the training and confidence to work for a bigger company that uses similar machines. 

Since we recieved the full 10 day training that the leaders of the churches had, we were able to participate in the graduation ceremony on Thursday!  Dr. Florence and the Chairperson for LIA’s International Board was there to present us our certificates.  It was a great accomplishment to finish and be able to take this knowledge with us in the future. 

On Friday we went to Nairobi city center and got to walk around downtown.  It was really neat seeing such a modern city in the middle of East Africa, but also sad that these modern skyscrapers were so close to Kibera. 
We have an amazing week away from Nairobi ahead of us.  This will be the last time I will post until we get back next Sunday, so please keep Egypt in your prayers as they prepare for their critical elections on June 16th-17th that will decide the future of their country.  The already limited freedoms of Christians are literally at stake so I cannot stress enough to please keep them in your prayers.  Thanks a bunch for your support!! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dancing in the Church - Kimber and Bonsai

Hey everyone!

While in Makueni on Sunday, we (Kimber and Bonsai), went to Pastor Steve’s Church along with Beth, Christine, and Daniel (all attending training with us). Due to our bus overheating we arrived  45 minutes late, which in Kenya time is not bad at all. The church had waited for us to start and the Pastor greeted us outside to let us know where to sit.  As soon as we sat down they began doing choreographed dances to songs which told a really neat message. It was fascinating seeing authentic, African dancing. They then had offering, and, as you can see from the other blogs, they auctioned off agricultural items that were given in lieu of a traditional offering. That was interesting to see and hear. (Imagine an auctioneer speaking in Kambo-their tribal tongue). When we had to get up to say a few words to the church, Bonsai tried speaking Swahili to the church but it was not until after the service that we learned they spoke Kambo.

After the service (3 hours later) everybody greeted the pastor, then got in line behind him, shaking everyone’s hand in between; definitely a smart way to meet and greet everyone. After the greetings, we joined a group of all ages (3 years to 80 years) doing an African line-dance in the front of the church. We were definitely the least coordinated there by far. Before we left, they brought us sodas (a very well established Kenya tradition) as we talked with Pastor Steve. He told us of the progress his church had been making as well as his involvement with the LIA programs. We soon thereafter left the church, not only with a better understanding of how LIA works with the church, (and how to African line-dance), but with an understanding that we all worship the same God, just in different ways. We are both looking forward to going back to Makueni this coming up week and we are hoping to be better prepared for the dancing… maybe we can teach them some American dance moves?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Humbled by a chicken-Amy and Daniel

Hey family and friends!
In Makeuni on Sunday, Daniel and I attended AIC (African Inland Church) with Florence (not Dr.) and Judy. We arrived late, and as we walked in every eye was on the mzungus.   I felt like I was in a traveling circus exhibit. After a brief introduction of ourselves, the Kenyan Pastor Daniel, got up to preach. All I know is that the sermon was over Deuteronomy 28:1-8 and had something to do with blessings. I know nothing beyond that because the pastor spoke mainly in their mother tongue, Kambo. He would switch over to English for like 30 seconds, but it was more of a continuation of the sermon than an actual translation. 

After the service, we were planning on talking to the CHEs (community health evangelists) which are the people who have been trained by the TOT to go out into the community and serve. But the church had different plans. From what I could muster up from the weaving in and out of English, they were collecting additional offering so they could construct a fence that would surround the church property. And then out of nowhere, they started auctioning off items.  I was so confused, but Florence explained that the items they were selling were goods that people tithed with because they didn't have the money to give. I was so touched by the commitment they had to God. They didn't want to show up empty handed so they gave what they could. At one point, they brought a yellow bag over to sell and there was a HEAD sticking out. With an eye…blinking!!! It was a CHICKEN! Someone tithed a CHICKEN! I was so taken off guard that I started cracking up. It was so unexpected and the chicken kept bawking and hopping (its feet were bound together). I could barely control myself. 

Even though the chicken situation was funny, I realized that I have a lot to learn about trusting and depending on God from the people of Kenya. As I said before, I was so touched by the commitment to serving God by giving what they could and fully believing that God could use that chicken or papaya. If I don’t have the money for tithes one week, I just tell myself that I’ll make it up next week rather than giving what I can no matter how small the amount. I’m sure that giving that chicken, papaya, or whatever was way more of a stretch than 15 dollars or so would be for me. I keep that money so that my “needs” are met that week rather than depending and trusting in God to provide. These people literally are trusting in God’s provision daily so that they can eat, and I keep my money so that my “needs” are met while I have a pantry full of food. I have so much to learn. 

The chicken situation also got me wondering what the reaction would be at my church or any church in America if someone tithed a chicken. People would think they were crazy and they would definitely see that as “unacceptable”. I feel like the person who tithed the chicken would be seen as “poor”, “inferior”, and a charity case. Is that person poor? They may not have a lot of money, but at least they are giving what they can which is a lot more than what most of us give. They see it as shameful and disrespectful to God to show up empty-handed. God just asks us to give what we can and to trust him with it. He wants to provide for us. I’m reminded of Luke 21:1-4.

“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

God teaches us lessons in the most unexpected situations. I have been very humbled by the chicken. 
Mungu akubariki! (God Bless)

Hey! Daniel here. Just to make sure you are reading every word of this post so we decided to change writers half-way through it. As Amy mentioned early we had the opportunity of attending a church in Makueni on Sunday. It was a vast difference from the mega-churches I attend at home and away at college.  The building was nothing fancy, a simple structure without even doors or windows. But that did not catch me off guard. What surprised me was the makeup of the congregation. There were a decent number of women in the congregation, but most were elderly and none were youths. The majority of the congregation was comprised up of the elementary school children who lived at the boarding school next door. That was amazing to see, an entire school in the church. But then I looked and wondered? Where are the men? Where are the youths? Apart from the elders there might have been five men in the congregation, and there was no youth group. Not a single youth sat in the seats of the church. This is not okay.

When we sat down to talk to the leaders of the church Judy, one of the Kenyans with us, told them straight up that this must change. If there are no youths, there is no future of the church. When the parents and grandparents are dead there will be no one to sit in the seats. They had a hundred school children but a single high school student couldn’t be found. The church had failed to reach out to the youth of the community. They had failed to build bridges and invest in their lives. They had failed to raise up the next generation of church leaders. But there is hope. God can turn the state of this church around; he can use the congregation to disciple and pour into the youth of the community. This does not have to be the end of their story.

Hopefully for you and your church it never becomes a part of your story. The youth are the future of the Church. The Church is one generation away from nonexistence. Invest in the lives of the youth of your church. Support them as they seek out their own relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ. Challenge them. Listen to them. Encourage them. Pray for them. And never ever give up on them. The youth are the future of your church. They are the future of THE CHURCH.