During the first week of December 2012, I was on a short-term missions trip in Kenya. My wife Lyndsye and I traveled with Pastor Mark Lackey and his wife Kelly. We visited the children's home in Mitaboni that Calvary Church funds through Kids Alive International. There, we were able to see plans for expansion, help start their first library, and spend time with all of the children. It was such a blessing to see the way that Kids Alive is not only working to save the orphans of Mitaboni but also playing an active role in the community by keeping families together and spreading the love of Christ. My wife and I were very blessed to be able to meet our sponsor child Judy for the first time.
While in Kenya, we visited 2 other Kids Alive homes. One is an all-boys center and the other, in Karundas, was another childern's home. It was truly amazing to see what God is doing through Kids Alive and to see the impact they are making for the Kingdom. While at the boys' home, we attended an event called "Family Day." All of the people in the surrounding community who had been impacted by Kids Alive came to celebrate and to say thank you. I was struck so profoundly when a grandmother got up in front of the 150+ people and began to pour out her thanks to Kids Alive for making such an impact in their community. My wife and I had a translator during her speech and I will never forget her final statement as long as I live. She looked at Al Lackey (the president of Kids Alive) and the other staff and said, "You are the gospel we have seen." This, to me, sums it all up. Kids Alive is not only spreading the gospel but also making it come alive through their actions and deeds. This is the power of the gospel at work. It is all encompassing and changes everything. These people not only hear the gospel, but they also see what the power of the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ does. It changes hearts and transforms communities. It breaks down barriers and gives hope! This was a very profound moment for me halfway into our time in Kenya.
One of our other goals while in Kenya was to connect with the lead pastor of Nairobi Chapel, Oscar Muriu, and some of his staff to continue to further the partnership between Calvary Church in Valparaiso and the Nairobi Chapel, in Kenya. We are joining them in their quest to plant churches all over the African continent. Our first effort with them will be in Monrovia, Liberia. It was a blessing to hear their heart to spread the gospel all over the world. And to be a part of that is truly amazing. I was also able to connect with some people on behalf of Sevenglory in order to begin the groundwork for the band to travel to Kenya and Liberia to play, hopefully in 2013.
There is so much that could be shared about our time in Kenya. So many things that we saw and experienced that have changed my life forever. I could share about the staff of Kids Alive in Kenya, who work tirelessly to show the love of Christ. Their dedication is astounding! There were things that were extremely hard to see: slums filled with families being destroyed by AIDS, extreme poverty and lack, hopelessness and just the sheer size of the need. But there are ways to chip away at the need. And hope can be restored to children and communities through child sponsorships and church partnerships with organizations like Kids Alive. Not just a band-aid, but true hope through the power and love of Christ. It became so obvious to me while in Kenya that the proclamation of the gospel cannot be separated from living out of the gospel. If we claim to know Christ and to follow Him, then we will show His love to a world in need and will feed His sheep.
To be in Kenya holding orphans, bringing food into the slums and discussing plans to plant churches in Africa made me feel, in a lot of ways, closer to God's heart. Jesus came for the sick and the needy, and as His church, we bear a responsibility to both speak the truth and live it out. Jesus said that we will be known as His followers when we love each other. Who in your neighborhood is in need? Who in your circles needs to be shown the love of Christ? The truth is that we don't need to travel to Africa to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Least of These are all around us. Who sees Christ's love through you?