I, Meredith, have been in Kenya for over eight years now. I have seen a lot.
Poverty. Death. Sickness. Witchcraft. Demons. Hopelessness. Brokenness. Widows. Orphans. Girls who lost their innocence too young. And not by their decision.
And I have seen the hand of my Abba, my Father in all of these situations. His love, His presence is the healing of it all.
I have seen Him remove demons from a young woman. I have seen Him heal a little boy who’s little body was covered in HIV, chicken pox, meningitis, malaria, typhoid and pneumonia and was given less than 24 hours to live. Less than a week later, that little boy was in our backyard, running around with a soccer ball.
I have seen Him restore beauty and love into young girls who had their innocent lives ripped out of their hands. I have seen Him in the smiles of the forgotten, the widows and orphans, by providing for them in ways that only He can provide.
I have seen Him love on Sean and me these past few months through opening doors, words of encouragement from people and providing needs without us even having to ask Him.
He knows and He loves.
With God’s leading and vision, Sean and I started this new ministry, One 5 Ministries, here in Kenya and are networking with other ministries to see how we can come alongside them and assist families in their area of which they serve.
Last Tuesday, we went with another ministry, Africa Connect (www.africaconnect.org), to visit the Tuwani slums. Africa Connect has a great relationship with the people of Tuwani. They have been there many years and have transformed lives by bringing God’s love and light to a place that was once dark.
The need in Tuwani is great and we want to be able to assist Africa Connect in the desire to see the widows and their children and the orphans living with their grandparents to have a chance of getting out of poverty, free of malnutrition, healed of illnesses, education for the children, and to find hope and love in Jesus.
The first family we met, the guardian of the home was a woman whose name is Susan. She cares for three children: two grandchildren and one nephew. Susan is HIV positive.
Their home which is only one room and no larger than 9×20, is made of mud and sticks. Their roof is made of tin with holes where a ray of sunshine shines through a bit. Fine for the dry season, not so nice in rainy season. The one room home is also the kitchen to cook food in. There always seems to be a bit of smoke in the air as the only ventilation I see is the door.
I notice that there is one old bed, two couches and two chairs, all of them worn and very dirty. There was a sheet hanging from the ceiling to separate the “bedroom” from the sitting area.
Susan looked overwhelmed, tired, and beat up emotionally. I constantly smiled at her just so I could see how beautiful she would look with a smile across her sweet face. I got one smile. And yes, she is beautiful.
I began to get the stories of the children she cares for. Her nephew, Peter, just four years old, lives with her now. His mother lived in Northern Kenya and in December of 2013, was killed. Her life was taken by robbers; her life worth far more than what they probably stole from her. You can still see the ache on Peter’s face of knowing his mother isn’t coming to visit him.
Susan’s grandson, Derick, is six years old with a gorgeous and contagious smile. His father was killed during the post election violence. Derick didn’t get to meet his father; he died a few months before Derick was born. Derick’s mother is away in Bible school. She was taken by a church and comes to visit him when she can.
And last but not least, Susan’s granddaughter, Sylvia. Too young to be in school but that doesn’t stop her from following her brother Derick to school every day and sneaking into the baby class so she can be near him.
Sylvia doesn’t know her father and likely never will. Sylvia was conceived out of rape; all too common in places like Tuwani. But the blessing is, she has a grandmother that, in her exhausted state, will still try to find food for her. She has a brother who clearly adores her as much as she does him. Beauty from ashes.
Another home we went to visit was a single mother named, Emily. She has four children under the age of six years old. Her husband ran off on her when she was four and a half months pregnant.
Her home is similar to Susan’s except it was about 9×12 in size and the only piece of furniture was a couch that only had one old cushion and a small stool.
Emily looked broken and hopeless. We found out that her two month old son doesn’t even have a name. She is waiting for her husband to someday return and give him a name. For now she calls him the same name as her second born son: Alfred.
The baby looked drawn and emotionless; he made no attempt at eye contact and didn’t respond to touch. Thankfully, he was a solid baby, being fed by his mother’s breast milk but still my heart ached to take him in my arms and love on him. I wondered if he felt her sorrow, her pain.
There was a heaviness in these two specific families. I spoke softly to God, “Shine Your light in these homes. Let us help them, please. ” Sean prayed over each family before we left.
Afterwards, Sean and I sat and talked about these two families. I have been here eight years now and Sean has been here five and half years and our hearts still ache for families like these. You don’t become numb; you don’t just shrug your shoulders and say this is the way of life here. You take care of the least of these.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:31-40