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.
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!