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