Back in February, I asked my husband if he wanted to go with me to Kenya this year to meet our sponsor children. We thought it would be fun.
Little did I know that this decision came from someone far greater than me! I have met people from Crossroads who have changed my life forever! We traveled 11,000 miles to be loved on by our kids, and to love on hundreds more!
These children don’t have the comforts that we do, but their spirits and heart outweigh anything I have experienced.
Our daughter, Katie, has come here twice in the past, and she tried to describe. There are no words.
I hope those of you reading this will venture out of your comfort zone one day. These children need to know we care!
I am thankful to God for placing me here!
Kenya has been many of the things people say it is, and yet none of it at the same time. No words will do justice for what you have to see with your own eyes and feel in your heart. Driving to church on our first day, I remember thinking, “Jesus loves this place.” In the days to follow, I have seen the deep reality of the slums and how God’s light shines through like tiny piercing holes in true darkness. Every trip, every good work, every person that comes is another light poking through.
In the past 2 days of VBS, we have sat with 1,300 kids amid a flurry of animal crackers and milk boxes. We danced, sang, played games, took LOTS of photos, hugged lots and talked about ourselves. They want to know about my family, my friends, even my dog.
They remember Kenya team members from years and years back and repeatedly ask if we know their sponsors. Oh and they LOVE Jesus. They are children just like the ones that live in our own homes– they have personalities and emotions and struggles and quirks. And because of faithfulness, they have a future.
I made friends with 3 eighth grade girls who found out I am studying science, and we have talked about static electricity, growing plants, anatomy, and even the periodic table. The impact of child sponsorship has stared me in the face as these 13 year old girls who live in the slums of Nairobi held a conversation about energy transfer with me after church on Sunday. The necessity of God’s work is seen in the slums and the fruit of it is prevalent in the children.
After 10 years in missions, there are still those times when I find myself out of my comfort zone. Back in April when I was in Kenya with our worship arts team, I had a meeting with the staff of Kiamaiko School to plan this year’s VBS. They presented me with a challenge from the 7th & 8th grade classes. They told the head teacher that they wanted more out of VBS; they wanted to be challenged. Our program serves kindergarten through 8th grade, so I could see why they were feeling a little bored.
They asked if we could have someone preach on leadership using the story of Joseph. I normally have a teaching pastor with us, but this year I didn’t. That’s when God put it on my heart that I needed to step up and do it! Our Crossroads Jr High Pastor Craig helped me with the message, one he had taught a few days before I asked for help on this topic. It’s amazing because God gave him the exact message that the Kenyans asked us to teach on!
Watching them turn the pages in the Bibles which Crossroads donated last year as I shared the message was simply beautiful. The message was interactive using small groups. Our team helped to facilitate the questions along with the Kiamaiko staff. The challenge was clear: Rise up as a leader in your influence at school and with family, friend groups, and your community. No matter your circumstance, remain faithful and so will God.
In my planning I decided to also teach them bible journaling using art. We passed out a drawing sketch pad, a watercolor kit and colored pencils, and other small items they needed. Cyrus, my sponsor child, was sitting in the front row and asked me, “do we get keep these?” I said yes and he almost jumped out of his seat he was so excited. When we announced to the room that everything was theirs to keep, the room erupted in applause. It melted my heart and filled me with joy! We can forget how the simple things we may have an abundance laying around the house can mean so much to someone halfway around the world.
We discussed the importance of a daily quiet time with God and helped them explore how to use art to journal. We also gave kits to the teachers. Everyone sat about 45 minutes working on their journals. The art that came out of it was beautiful. At the end of the session, I went back to Cyrus and wanted to see what he was drawing. He was still working on his, but I was blown away at his drawing of Moses! I didn’t realize what a talented artist he was.
I was recently with a missions team in Israel and while there, God really spoke to me that it’s time for me to not be comfortable– to challenge myself as I am always challenging others to do with each outreach experience. The blessing is worth every uncomfortable moment.
Pastor of Global Outreach