Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A real typical story in the life of a family in Nairobi this Christmas season





A real typical story in the life of a 
family in Nairobi this Christmas season


When the phone rings at 8pm, we usually don’t answer…

Our phones were ringing – over and over.  As a rule, once we are in our family’s evening routine, we don’t answer those calls.  On this night, there was a follow up text that we could not ignore.  “Two girls in your community have been locked out of their home.  Their mom is on a drinking binge.” 


We couldn't do "nothing"!!!


Our family took in the news.   
Our hearts sank!  
It was dark and raining outside!!!  
But, we couldn’t do “nothing”! 
We figured out where in Ngando they were and went to get them. 
Sam prepared a bed while Abby prepared some food.
When we returned with the girls, Abby burst into tears.   

The youngest was Blessing! – A five year old that we’ve known!





The next few days we prayed as we tried to find the way forward for these precious girls!



A trip to the children’s department many conversations and counsel… we spent the next couple of days with the girls, trying to figure out “what’s next?” 

Finally their mom was able to get their house reopened.
 
They went back home…
The whole situation was heart wrenching.
























We visited.  We met their mama… Thankful that she once again was sober and actually doing a little business!   But, we still had deep sadness every time we thought about the girls (four sisters now).    
Their needs are so deep!!!   
They are so vulnerable!!!





The Need? …Spiritual


This family needs food… yes! 
This family needs school fees… yes!   
They are in grave need of counseling and protection for the girls… yes!  
 They need money for rent… yes!   

But, until they can meet GOD, find His GRACE and walk in His LOVE, there can’t be true healing.

As a matter of fact, the girls are a part of a local feeding program.  They also have sponsors paying for their school!  They get food from a charity… yet they continue to struggle!




A Local Church’s Embrace



We were thrilled when Pastor Kefa, a man that we have been discipling for some time, decided to host a Bible Club for children.  Immediately we called Mercy and her sisters.
When they arrived at the church, Pastor Kefa met them, recognized them from the community, learned where their home is and welcomed them fully.



 

Healing Continues



They have now spent 3 days in this church – they have heard about the Christmas story and more importantly, they have seen and felt God’s love!
 
Pastor Kefa will visit them.   
He will be there if mama starts to drink.
He will lead them toward GOD!    
Our prayer is that this family will see real transformation!





This and other stories go on thanks to your prayers and giving.






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Miracle in Ngando



I wish that you could have been here with us, to be a part of this emotional an monumental day!

Behind the Scene

It's been 2 years now, since Brad worked with Pastor Isaac to start up a small Bible College for the pastors here in Ngando; men and women who love the LORD and long to increase their knowledge of His WORD.

When the subject of baptism came up, Brad realized that in all the time we have been here, walking with the churches in our community, we have never seen a baptism ceremony!  When he asked the students, their response hit us hard.

Oh, the desire for baptism is deep!  Both the pastors and congregants desire to be able to take that step.  But, baptism can't be for the poor who live in a slum.  Water is scarce - bought by the bucket 
full.  Any river or stream in Nairobi is grossly polluted!  And, travel upcountry to find a clean water source is cost prohibitive.  For a baptism to take place in this community would take a miracle.

So, Brad and I started to pray - and some of you prayed with us!

Baptismal

With the help of some special supporters and friends, the group of churches in Ngando came together to buy this big blue tub...   A miracle was born!

(Our kids did think it was a swimming pool when it was first delivered to our home!)


Hearts for Christ, Joy Unspeakable!
This day marks the hearts of 21 believers.  
May their lives shine and mark the community of Ngando!




Thanking GOD for this day!
And, as we continue to pray for the churches here in Ngando, as they grow, share and impact this community, we look forward to many more baptism days to come!!!
We are so grateful to each of you who pray for us often, support us financially, and have become such a vital part of our lives here in Ngando! 
Thank you!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Patiently Enduring Evil - The spiritual issues we face every day


And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil…  2 Timothy 2:24-26

Throughout our time in Kenya we are repeatedly reminded of all the depths of evil and the snares that capture the neighborhood, the people we know and love.   Surely we all need only to watch our evening news to see the brokenness in our own back yard and evil across the globe.  Yet, on the margins, at the fringes of this society there is an incomprehensible extreme battle with blatant evil that has a freedom to roam.  We feel the dark spiritual forces of witchcraft that are pervasive in all African sectors but we also see a senseless cruelty and greed that seems to be more overt in the midst of the extreme socioeconomic disparity in Kenya.  Amongst the economically poor we witness the unforgiving struggle of the “survival of the fittest”.  And amongst the wealthy we see the blind denial that poverty is something we are all to consciously address or making statements such as “poverty is a choice” in an effort to placate their own corruption.

At the root, there are two spiritual issues that we confront on a daily basis.  First, the ancestral worship and tribal witchcraft has ensnared the majority of people.  It is said that Kenya is around 80% Christianized but with the high prevalence of this type of darkness, we struggle to believe such statistics and that this country is anywhere close to being reached.  In this context defining yourself as Christian means only that you are not Muslim.  But with the rituals so widely practiced, we would also question the faith and understanding of those within “the church”. 

Syncretism, the amalgamation of different religions and beliefs, is highly prevalent.  It completely distorts ones understanding of grace and the true gift of Jesus Christ.  At the very least it stifles ones Christian walk and creates a poverty of faith. On the other end, it pulls a soul far from any true understanding of Jesus and makes Christianity only another form of appeasement of the gods.  

This leads to the second issue, grace.  There is a lack of understanding of God’s grace.  Generally, religion is about appeasing god(s).  Grace is a foreign concept to reach when you’ve only known your own works and attempts to get to God.   So, we go back to Jesus and the whole Story of scripture to understand grace.  It can be a daunting task, even within a “reached” Christian society who know the stories of the Bible but yet miss the message within.

Interestingly, 2 Corinthians 13:14 know as “The Grace”, is commonly recited in all Christian circles in Kenya, possibly throughout Africa.   It is an encouraging statement of grace founded in the trinity, a dissection of our Christian faith.   Sadly, reciting this scripture has become more of a ritual, a prayerful appeasement of God, stuck in the Old Testament, negating the true understanding of Jesus, Paul’s intent and our celebration of salvation as believers.  Pastors and laymen daily recite the verse out of habit, forgetting or not even knowing what God’s grace truly is.  So, we go back to the beginning and teach grace, patiently enduring evil.

Our prayer is that God would grant repentance and that the masses throughout, in and out of “the church”, would understand His loving grace, a life in Jesus, escaping the evil snare of the devil. 

So what does this mean for all of us?  In a sense, we are all still trying to understand, fully grasp grace and apply it to our own lives.  I believe it is a challenge for all of us because his act of mercy is so unthinkable.  How often do we catch ourselves still working, trying to gain God’s favor even after Jesus already claimed, “It is finished”?  Certainly this applies to people in every context.

Here is how it applies to us. As God reveals himself to us, He calls us to and we grow with a desire to proclaim his goodness allowing him to perhaps grant repentance that leads to a knowledge of the truth.  He involves us in the process.  Paul gave us some guidelines - must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. - this is how we are to be, what we are to do.

We write and reflect on these thoughts for a couple reasons.  First, that you would pray fervently for us as we strive to abide in this context as the Lord’s servants here in Africa.  Second, that you would sacrificially give of yourself, financially, serving, encouraging work such a this, in your neighborhood and around the world.  You can partner with us to enable the work here to grow and move forward (see donate link on the right) . Third, that you would be persuaded to regularly consider how God’s grace applies to your life in defeating the gods in your life and fourth, that you would be ready to proclaim it! 

God may not be asking you to physically move to a different country to do this but He certainly moves all of our hearts, through the revealing of his grace, to be and do what 2 Timothy 2:21 is saying of the Lord’s servant, “he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A SWEET Aroma!!!



Before...





Rubby is two years old now...
And GOD has miraculously saved her life at least 3 times since we met her.

We found Rubby - after she had been lost for 6 months.  
Read the story about when Rubby got lost here.
Now, for the past 3 weeks, we have gotten to hold her in our arms and in our hearts...

We rescued her from a place we believe she was trafficked to.
When we found her, she was very severely malnurished.


And here's a secret that pictures can't tell...
Malnutrition STINKS... literally...

The truth is, that Rubby doesn't smell very good.
It's in her breath....
Its even her skin...

We bathe her.  Often.
I've chewed up breath mints and given her the small pieces.
Perfumed lotions.
Open windows.
Scented candles.

But, we LOVE Rubby... and somehow, that love hides the STINK.



And, as I've pondered (and changed my own clothes several times a day), I realized that Rubby has taught me something special.

LOVE and GRACE can cover the stink!

  
Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God...

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 

I can't even really imagine...  God declaring that I, a sinner, am a sweet aroma!  
But, I'm thankful that LOVE and GRACE can cover my stink!

And, thankful that God brought RUBBY into our lives to help us understand God's GRACE in new ways!





Saturday, April 26, 2014

She was performing WITCHCRAFT against our family.

Our family, as we first moved into Ngando - 3 years ago!


She was performing WITCHCRAFT against our family.

I knew it as soon as I walked by her!  The signs were all there - my heart froze.

When we've moved into territory that is so obviously ruled by darkness, we should probably have expected this...  But honestly, I was shocked!

As we prayed and prayed, seeking GOD'S wisdom, Brad kept telling me - you need to talk to her!  She needs Jesus!  

But that was just too much for me!

Things have been difficult for our family on many different levels over the last months!  We have felt Satan's attacks in REAL ways!  For the first time, since we moved to Kenya, we have considered that it was maybe time for us to leave.

And now, to see and know that someone was actively working against us... invoking evil against our family!?! - I prayed through many sleepless nights!

And yesterday, I talked to her. 
I confronted her.
I told her that she didn't need to seek answers from anywhere but from GOD.
I prayed with her.
And I hugged her as she walked away.

Has she changed? 
I don't really think so.  

But, I am so thankful that we can rest in TRUTH - 
our GOD is stronger than any evil force.  
And, that through His SON, we are rescued from the power of evil!

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14

Of course we will encounter EVIL as we live to bring LIGHT to this community!
If this neighborhood didn't need JESUS, then I don't know why we would even be here!!!
 







Thursday, April 10, 2014

JOY Out of Sacrifice!

Yesterday, my thoughts kept traveling back.  It's been about 4 years now, since we got serious about selling everything we owned and stepping toward a move... not just a trip or a few years' term - but a MOVE to Kenya.

 

 And, knowing that we were heading toward GOD'S call was the only thing that made it possible.  People thought we were crazy - I thought we were crazy!  We weren't even exactly sure where we would be or what we would be doing - except that we were moving... our family... to Africa.  

 

 So, we started to sort and sell or give away 17 years worth of life and memories.  Going down to - literally NOTHING!   I kept telling myself, "No turning back!  I hope we've heard this call right!"  Because, in our situation, GOD didn't choose to reveal many details to us until we had taken some drastic steps.   We only knew we were supposed to go!

 

 

I was a "quilter" before we moved.  There was nothing I loved more than gathering fabrics, piecing them together, and especially hand quilting.  

 




With young children, I didn't have much time to quilt, but I had accumulated a huge stash of fabric - any yard sale or thrift shop that was selling a box of cotton fabric quickly caught my eye - and I bought, washed and put them on my shelf - figuring that one day, as my children grew, I would really get to dig into them!

 


My fabrics filled the hutch in the back room in this photo...

 

Brad had even given me a room in our house for my sewing!  It was a sanctuary to me - my chair, where I read my Bible and cuddled my kids - and of course, my sewing machine, decorated with all my fabrics and anything antique that had to do with sewing!  I spent many peaceful hours in there!

 

 

 

But, God had asked us to move on.  To get rid of all our "things"... and, that included my fabric!  

A fellow quilter bought all my fabric.  

As she drove away - I cried. 

 

When we arrived in Kenya and unpacked what we had brought with us (which was only our normal weight allowance for a plane trip) - I was surprised that Brad had slipped my sewing machine into the luggage... a true act of love!  

 

That sewing machine has lain idle for most of the 3 years we've been here.  But, a few weeks ago, Pauline and I began discussing how to increase our market for GIRLS WITH VISION.  And, we decided to add some fabric crafts to our repertoire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dusted off my sewing machine, carried it down to Girls With Vision, and had such an amazing day - working with Daisy, who has had some training in sewing and Sho Sho - who has been struggling to be able to learn the bead work designs.  

 

 

 

 

As I worked, on that same machine that had been so special to me back home, I just laughed inside.  This day - and the joy and income it would bring to ladies in need - was worth the sacrifices I had made... this is so much more to me!   


I was reminded of Romans 8:28... 

Most of the time, we don't really clearly see the "good" that God brings out of hard things.  I'm so grateful that yesterday, I got to experience something truly "good"!

  

He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

 Romans 8:28

Our first decorative pillow... came with many cheers - from all the ladies in our center!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Even When THINGS Seem Terribly WRONG...

Baby Rubby.
We came to LOVE her almost a year ago!


She was so sickly that the morning after the medical camp, we called and went to find her - Dr. Deanna was afraid that if we didn't run tests and treat her swiftly, her life may slip away. 

Rubby made it through another medical crises.

Although she never thrived, she survived.  And we rejoiced.

And so, we entered the life of an orphan teen mama, Daisy - desperate to find love in life....  
A girl who, when she had discovered she was pregnant, took some strong medicine, hoping to rid herself of this baby... 
Rubby survived.  
Alive - but with many health issues.



A group of friends gathered and made a special quilt for Rubby.  And they PRAY for her!  Every time I visited Rubby after that (announced or unannounced), she was sitting on or wrapped in that quilt.
Rubby and Daisy with her precious quilt
Later, another midnight phone call... haste... seizures... fear (I wasn't sure Rubby would make it to the hospital).  
Again, Rubby survived!


Rubby with her mama, Daisy - in her hospital bed.
Even that first time we met her, I would have loved to just bring Rubby home with us.  She obviously needed a healthier situation and loving care...  (in all the times that I have visited, I have never seen Rubby smile... and I really worked to get a smile!)

We knew in our hearts that Daisy was the mama GOD had given to Rubby.  If we could only walk with her and help her to be the mama she needs to be!

But Daisy didn't or couldn't  respond.  Perhaps the abuse she had suffered herself was louder than the love we were trying to extend.  She continued to make poor decisions - a few times, we questioned whether we should really leave Rubby in her care.

Almost 2 weeks ago now, Daisy ran away with Rubby.  The only thing she took with her was the quilt - the gift that had meant so much!

We haven't seen them since.

Weird phone calls with strange demands...

Stories.... of Daisy trying to throw Rubby in a river... of Daisy abandoning her at the doors of an orphanage...  Of Rubby being given to someone else and taken to a hospital... Police corruption - in full evidence...

We have searched!  We have cried!  We have PRAYED...  And so many have prayed with us!

But now, we are concluding that something very evil has happened with Rubby. 

And we are heartbroken.

Pleading to our GOD.

Asking for HIS mercy on Rubby's life - for GRACE in Daisy's life.

The realities of living in a community where babies are sold - and at times sacrificed are hitting hard.

GOD, please protect our Rubby!




Two things stand out in my mind right now.

One is something that Krista Davis (Safe Families, Indianapolis) shared with us - 
 "We still don't know the end of the story!"  
And we don't.  
God continues to write HIS story... 
I pray that this story ends with a miracle that will SHOUT God's goodness in mighty ways!

The second is a question that I keep asking myself - Even if things don't turn out as we hope ... can I continue to TRUST in GOD'S goodness?  

My answer doesn't come easily - but, yes... I will choose to TRUST...


Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.



Monday, March 3, 2014

The MORE I Learn, the LESS I Know...

In every area of my life!

When I feel like I am really learning something - it doesn't take long to realize how very little I have grasped!  

Vast knowledge - depth of wisdom - truth - it can only come from GOD!

Faith...

She arrived at our door to Girls With Vision about 6 months ago.  Young, teen aged girl.  Struggling.

We only take in new members 4 times a year.  Because of the structure of our discipleship program, we want to work through truth with each new member - from the beginning to the end...  and it works, most of the time. 


I actually sent Faith away.  “Come back to join us in January,” I said with a smile.  This was something I “knew”... our system... it wasn't the right time to bring in a new member!

But, as we learned Faith’s story, we realized that this system wasn’t going to work for her! 

She was pregnant.  She had been forced from school.  Now, her mama was angry - beating her.  Rejection from every side - and she had turned to us.  Suddenly, what I knew - the “system” we had established didn’t mean anything.

We embraced Faith.

She joined our Bible study - daily.  Worked on beads...  
And most importantly,we spoke into her - unfamiliar words - like LOVE and GRACE.  And, she began to smile again. 

When the “Girls With Vision” - Faith Ministries Church opened, she was one of the first members to join.  Excited to help - eager to learn more.

I “knew” so much before Faith came... But then we met her... a real person... with real pain... a real story that I could hug... a young girl to cry with - and I realized I didn’t know anything at all
 


The more I learn, the less I know...

Two weeks ago, Faith was chased out of her home.  What will we do with her now?  We didn’t have a place for her to stay.  Sadness flooded her face again.

This is our Faith!  
With a baby coming any day now, and no place to stay.

Other girls who have been in her situation...  end up as prostitutes - living in bars.  Or married to a drunkard - one who was willing to give them shelter.

Faith’s story is not unusual for our community.

Our prayer is that Faith and her baby will know LOVE and GRACE in the midst of their difficult path.

We don't KNOW anything!
And so, we go to the ONE who does.


Because the more I learn.. the LESS I know.  

But, as I’ve pondered this enigma over these last weeks, I’m realizing something...

Maybe God’s goal isn’t for me to KNOW!  
Actually, I’m quite sure of that!  
I will never “know” it all...

If I did, I wouldn’t NEED HIM!


And, I love that He's not hiding anything... He just wants me to ask!  
 But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, 
whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, 
without keeping score. 
Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.  
James 1:5