An Update from Kenya
At age 17, I became a teen mom…
During my pregnancy it seemed that wherever I went I felt labeled. People noticed my “mistake,” but they didn’t see my heart. Few noticed how I was seeking God, and trying to make changes. My large, round stomach was all that they noticed.
They are called slums because that’s why they are.
It’s easy to overlook what’s truly important, to miss smiles and wide eyes filled with hope in a place like the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya. They are called slums because that’s why they are. Small shacks are used as homes, businesses, and churches. Narrow muddy paths are lined with garbage and raw sewage runs in the ditch inches from the walking path. Yet down one narrow lane is a school. And inside the school are 200 children. It could be easy to look at the bare feet and scabbed heads, but these children didn’t give me a chance to notice.
When I pulled out my camera they were quick to pose, and then when I showed them the photo laughter erupted.
They forced me to look into their faces.
My eyes connected with theirs as I snapped photos. Wide brown eyes. Round cheeks. Shy smiles–well, at least at first.
And then a chorus of voices began to call out, “Look at me. Look at me. Look at me!” If I heard that phrase one time, I heard it one hundred. And as I left that day, I carried those faces in my mind. I carried their smiles in my heart.
In a place like Kibera it would be easy to focus on the mud, on the houses that are no more than shacks, or on the dirty sore-covered feet. But the children urged me to look at them, to see them, and to snap photos so I won’t forget.
Isn’t that they cry of all of us?
“Look at me!” We want to be seen. We want to be known. We want to be appreciated. We want to be loved.
And I’m happy to saw that although these children had torn clothes, ragged shoes, and walked along these muddy, garbage-strewn paths, love was something they had in abundance. They not only had the love of their teachers, but because of Awana these children had the love of Jesus. They knew His Word, and recited it for us. They sang His praises.
When one of our team members Steve Greenwood asked the children if they knew Jesus 200 hands shot into the air. And as they laughed and play with the members of our group, their joy and love was contagious. In this world’s standards they have nothing, but because of the good news they cling to they have everything in Christ.
Romans 2:11 says, “For God shows no partiality.” His love is for those who have little, and those who have much.
I’m guilty of having much and wanting more. More clothes, more shoes, more books. But these children remind that the only thing that will truly make me happy is having more of Jesus.
I’ve crossed the globe and tonight I’m going to bed knowing that there are good people out there who are following God and going into horrific conditions to share the good news of Jesus. God hasn’t called me to move to Kibera. Instead, He’s simply called me to tell the story. He’s calling me to remember that the little I give can be multiplied into much.
The amazing thing is that there are tens of thousands of children who are involved in Awana in these slums. How is this possible? Because a dedicated Awana missionary name Bernar trains leaders, who train leaders, who train leaders. They don’t have student books or vests, but they have passionate adults who teach them Scripture and songs and share Jesus’ love.
There are some amazing organizations who feed bellies. Others put shoes on feet, and others provide clothes and medical care. Those are wonderful things, and Awana is the spiritual component to that. They focus on training up men and women who can lead and disciple children, yet it takes money to do that.
Today, you can make a difference and train a leader.
And in turn that leader can reach dozens and dozens of children. For only $10 you can impact one more child, offering them good news. That’s not $10 a month, but only $10.
Do you have $10 to share? I know I do. In fact, if I dig deep I have more than that I can share.
Consider giving to Awana today because in the end these children understand that they weren’t just seen by me. God sees them too. And this children know that and they can trust that for all the days to come.
A relationship with Jesus is the most valuable thing we own and I met hundreds of children who had that because of those of us who’ve given in the past.
And that is something to smile about!
I’m still in Africa right now! Please join me in praying for the children in slums around the world who have already accepted Christ. Pray that we would all persevere and make an impact in the locations God has placed us.