Lessons in Hope: Meeting Mercy

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This week I’m continuing the Lessons in Hope series: What I learned in Kenya. I should forewarn you that I know I’m going to cry as I type out the post. So you can go ahead and grab a tissue now if you’d like.

The Lord had very specific plans for the AWANA International global mission team I accompanied to Kenya just a few weeks ago. The first leg of our flight was delayed due to thunder and lightning so we missed our connection flight by two hours. This added about 8 hours of travel time to the trip over to Kenya. Even through this delay, I can look back and see how God was working to arrange our visits in his perfect timing. So  incredible!

Each day as we visited schools, churches, and orphanages where God is using AWANA to reach children with the gospel, we had lots of opportunities to love on children and encourage their caregivers and teachers. The last school we visited was further into the Kibera slum area.

I have to pause for a moment and explain that I’ve seen many poor folks and visited extremely poor areas in the ministries I’ve been involved in over the years, both rural and urban. But I’ve never seen anything like the Kibera slums. Just to be sure you get the picture, here are a few facts from the Kibera Law Centre:

The Kibera Slum houses almost 1 million of these people: Kibera is a  field and valley (not quite as large as Central Park) jammed with tin huts, 8 people per hut, with urine and feces running in ruts of the rambling walking paths. There are no streets, street lighting, police or  medical facilities and the walking paths are filled with trash, garbage and human waste. Kibera is the biggest slum in the African Continent. Some numbers bore you; these paint a grim picture:

  • Kibera is one of the most densely populated places on the planet;
  • Life expectancy in Kibera is 30 years of age…
  • Half of all Kiberians are under the age of 15.
  • One out of five children do not live to see their 5th birthdays.
  • There is no clean, running water in Kibera shacks. The people purchase water from private vendors, paying two to ten times what is paid by a Nairobi resident outside the slum.
  • Kibera’s 1 million residents share 600 toilets; a single toilet serves 1,300 people.

There are many more stats on the crime rates, especially sex trade.

Imagine walking through this area, only to hear joyful singing from the children. After we were greeted by a sweet woman who led the orphanage, the children sang and quoted Bible verses. Then a girl came to the front to give a testimony. I can’t explain what happened in that moment that made me turn my phone on to video her. Honestly, I believe that the Holy Spirit was whispering to me that I needed to hear her and remember her. I would share the video with you but it is very bad audio quality. Here are the words I heard upon meeting Mercy:

Me and another girl who is one of the teachers here- they taught us from the Word of God. Because I don’t know where we would have been right now. Because we were (in) hard times, we wanted to give up on life. We couldn’t pay our school fees. We would be sent home. Miss classes. Sometimes we would get abuses. And I just want to thank God because Beatrice and Ben (the orphanage leaders.) We don’t know where we would have been. God has brought us from far and I thank God because I can stand here and thank God that you’re brought into our lives. I just want to thank God that you came from far, no matter the challenges, because most of us, sometimes we are sent away from school. We have no money to buy books, school fees and your parents don’t even care. They abuse you all the time. But God sent special people, Ben and Beatrice, to serve us. Even for a little, to give us the lesson that you never give up because we want to stand firm in the Word of God. I just want to thank God for what he’s been in our lives because even when we have no chance to hope, we are still hoping that we can become better people, no matter the challenges we are facing.  I want to thank you for coming here because you are letting us know that there is still someone who cares out there. I want to thank you very much.

 

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At the end of Mercy’s testimony, there were no dry eyes on the team.

Through the opportunity of knowing God’s Word, Mercy found hope where there is none.

To purchase a Bible for another Mercy, click here.

To visit the Lessons In Hope series, click here.

Thanks for joining in on Whimsical Wednesday, Bloggers! Can’t wait to read your encouraging posts. Be sure to check out another link or two from the list and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Rachel


Don’t Tell Me Just to Keep Going

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Last week a couple of my friends got together for a rare girl’s night chat. We had such a great time catching up with one another and although each of us was tired when we arrived, we were all so glad that we made the time in this busy season of life.

Our discussion led to books (I know, you’re totally surprised, right?) and some of what we had been reading this summer. Then we chatted about how some books are ones that we can relate to easily and we feel like the author “gets it.” And then there are those that from the title, seem like they would be fabulous, but somewhere into the book, you lose touch with the author. The message changes from relative to “preachy” and the book never gets finished.

Some of you know that I signed my first published book contract this spring and right now I’m working feverishly as my manuscript deadline is mid-September. While the book is more than half written, the conversation from last week prompted me to get real and boldly ask for your help. What I haven’t yet told you is that the core concept of this book is perseverance. I know, that’s a pretty general topic but most of you reading understand that there are a few priorities here on the blog:

1. God’s Word is everything to me and without his love letter, I don’t know where I’d be.

This is why I create topical verse lists and I enjoy sharing Bible study material, topics, and ideas with you.

2. Prayer is central to enjoying a personal relationship with God.

Without communicating with Jesus each day, I am a  mess.

3. The above items are what keep me going and I’m constantly looking for ways to inspire you to keep going too. 

Life is hard. Circumstances get tough. Jesus is all we have.

Back to the book writing though, I don’t want you to pick up the book when it releases next September, start reading it, and then lose touch with my heart in the book, put it down, and forget about it.

And when I think about the topic of perseverance, I get a bit defensive when I hear other people say things like:

Oh, you just need to keep going.

Keep on going; you can do it. 

Just take the next step.

Those statements are all great advice; don’t get me wrong. I say them. I use them. I believe in them.

But I know that in my deepest, darkest pits, I need more than a few words. I need someone to crawl in that pit with me and share how they crawled out. I needed someone to get inside my head and know that my thoughts were making me crazy. That this situation at the time was so much bigger than me and I felt swallowed up completely.

Crazy enough, the sermon I heard on Sunday, after the book discussion on Thursday, was on perseverance. Whew, people. That’s how God works. He uses people in your life to ease the journey. Honestly, I don’t have a zillion fabulous quotes from the sermon. I didn’t come home with a ton of book material. Why? Because I was uniquely in tune with the message- the man of God was sharing his heart. He talked about his deepest pit and a very scary time in his life.

I was so busy catching his heart that I didn’t have to try to catch his words. 

You know what I mean?

Don’t tell me just to keep going. 

Anyone can do that.

So I really need your help today. Tell me what kept you going in your very worst time of life. Tell me what you need to read in a book on perseverance. Tell me what you would tell the world if you had a book contract and you wanted every person to pick up the book and say, “Now I can keep going. Even though she didn’t tell me to do that.”

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Rachel

 

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Bible Reading Challenge Check-In

bible sample wide Hey there Friends! Monday is here and I can hardly believe how quickly the week has flown by. Though it was dragging by at times because my hubby was out of town the entire week for work training. I was so busy with the kiddos that I forgot a few things; one of which was to pin the daily Bible Reading Challenge to the Pinterest board! Yikes- so sorry about that. We’re all caught up now and hopefully I can do a little better management this week. So tell me, how is the Bible reading going for you? We were at dinner with some friends last night and I half-joked that I read my Bible twice as much this week with my husband gone because I needed the sanity-saving moments. I’m guessing you’ve been there. Our family’s calendar for the next few weeks is very full and I didn’t think it would hurt to try to read ahead a little. I can hardly believe that I’m telling you I accomplished that. No matter how your reading is going, can you take a moment to check in and say hi? I’d love to know how the challenge is going for you and remember that the point of the reading is simply to stay in God’s word each day, no matter how much or how little. Have a marvelous Monday! Rachel