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Mission to Kibera, Nairobi, KENYA

The more time that I spend in Kenya the longer I want to stay. Derek Webb says in a song "Poverty is so hard to see when it's only on your TV, or 20 miles across town." Unfortunately, I am here.

I see the poverty every day and the worst part is I am poorer than any of the people here. How is it possible that people who live in shacks made of mud and garbage, can have a greater appreciation of God and His word than I could ever have.

The greatest part of missions work to me is not ministering to people but seeing the godly examples of extremely poor people, and realizing just how much they minister to me.

One of my favorite quotes comes from "An Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. When we have new eyes, we can look into the eyes of those we don't even like and see the ONE we love. We can see God's image in everyone we encounter." Henri Nouwen says, “In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face, and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh, their blood is my blood, their pain is my pain, their smile is my smile." "We are made of the same dust. We cry the same tears. No one is beyond redemption. And we are free to imagine a revolution that sets both the oppressed and the oppressor free."

Christianity is hard. As far as I know, nowhere in the Bible does it say give your old clothes to goodwill or give money to unicef so that they can give it to the poor.

James 1:27 says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

God is not looking for distant acts of love. God calls us to be with the poor, and the homeless. Their burdens are our burdens, their troubles are our troubles, and their hope is our hope.

I guarantee that when you sit down and talk with a 13 year old boy who has no parents because both have died of aids, and you hold a child in your arms while he’s urinating in his pants, and you see the joy that they get from playing a game with them or holding their hand, you will have a new definition of what it means to be a Christian and what it means to love.

I love the poor.
I love the sick.
I love holding a child’s hand when I know for a fact that they just went to the restroom.

Because it gives them hope. A hope that can only be seen through God’s love. Even when surrounded by darkness the smallest light can shine brightly.

That is what mission work is to me. Being with the poor, the sick, the dying, the hopeless, people who have never felt love in their lives and showing them God’s love and how it surpasses any earthly troubles that Satan may throw at them.

Another quote from “An Irresistible Revolution” says, “I found that I was just as likely to meet God in the sewers of the Ghetto as in the halls of academia. I learned more about God from the tears of homeless mothers than any systematic theology ever taught me.”

Give food to the homeless.

If you have an extra coat give it to the man who has nothing. (Luke 3:11)

Live your lives as if you were glorifying God in everything you do.

I used to think Jeff Foxworthy was a dumb comedian that only rednecks liked but then I read this quote from him about his time in Africa. He says, “I have been to the AIDS orphanages in the worst slums of Africa. I’m sure hell is worse, but not by much. The difference is that hell is separation from God and yet, God is in Africa giving hope to the hopeless. You cannot see this and do nothing. The Spirit of the Lord within you will not allow it.”

Wow.

He couldn’t be more right. Amidst all the pain and suffering in this place God is here giving hope to those who have never had any.

I see now something I didn’t understand about the poor. These people can rejoice in God’s promises because although they have nothing on earth, they will have everything in Heaven and will have a greater appreciation of how amazing God’s love for them is.

Don’t sit at home and do nothing.

Get up and help somebody.

Love somebody.

Because God loves us and why shouldn’t we share the greatest gift we have with others.

Travis Cochran Heim, Intern MTW-Nairobi, KENYA 2007





 

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