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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kenya Update - 12/10/07

12/10/2007

• I checked out of BTL this morning and headed into Ruiru to meet up with Sylvester at the church before we began our journey into Nairobi to spend the day, as we waited to pick up Randy Smith from the airport.
• Sylvester made arrangements for me to stop by the orphanage known as F.O.C.U.S which is where several of his youth leaders volunteer, and is also very close to his church. FOCUS stands for Families and orphans Under Stress.
o When I arrived the play area was full of children playing and laughing and running around, but as soon as they saw me coming they took off and ran into a classroom (I have that effect on a lot of people)…Sylvester said “Oh, they’re just shy” and took me to meet the leaders (the whole time the kids kept getting a little braver and kept sneaking around the corner to catch a glimpse at the giant “Mazoongu” (Swahili for “white man”)…it was really cute, as I kept toying with them the whole time.
o Sylvester and I met with the leaders of the ministry and talked for quite a while about who they are, and what they’re all about…The whole time I kept thinking that the leader (his name is Roman) and the other leaders looked so very young, but as they talked about their passion for the children and all the things they’ve organized and run to help raise awareness for the plight of the orphans in Kenya I thought, “they can’t be as young as they look”…so finally I just asked the question “if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you guys?” Roman said 25, and the other leaders said, 22, 21, 19, 23 etc…I looked at Sylvester and I almost lost it!…think about that…a major life changing ministry that is providing food, shelter, & education about Jesus is run by a team of people under the age of 25!! I was so moved by that…one of the statements that has driven me crazy over the years is a statement that is usually made by well intentioned adults, but is one that eats at the core of what I do as a Youth Pastor…it goes like this “it’s so great what you do with the young people, keep taking good care of them because they are the leaders of tomorrow”…That statement has always grated on me because it says that young people can’t lead now they have to wait until some magical age when they can begin to lead…meanwhile while they’re young just keep them busy and out of our way! So much for that mentality at this ministry…An orphanage run by 20 year olds… I guess they never got the “leaders of tomorrow” memo.
o I asked if I could meet the kids and they said of course and took me into the “building” where they were, and they were all giggling and laughing as I came in…they then proceeded to do some presentations for me…they sang some songs, quoted some scripture, and even told me some Bible stories (all in Swahili)…it was awesome! I asked them questions and they asked me questions and we just played and hung out for a couple hours. The whole time I was thinking what a great ministry this would be to team up with as youth ministries in the states do things like “30 Hour Famines” or other missions type fund raisers…I asked Roman what kinds of things could people do to help the ministry…He said things that could help them sustain their ministry of helping provide needs are the best ways…I then listed some ideas and asked if they would benefit the ministry…here’s a few of the things that I asked him…
 Would a goat, cow, chickens etc. (things they could use to help provide on going nourishment) be a benefit to help your ministry?
 Would clothes, shoes, coats etc. be a benefit to your ministry?
 Would children’s toys, books, teaching materials etc. be a benefit to your ministry?
 Would a group of people coming for a week or two to help do a children’s outreach be a benefit to your ministry?
 Would educators that could provide seminars and clinics and counseling in the community be a benefit for your ministry?
 To all of these ideas he gave a resounding “YES” and he said “We have overwhelming needs, and whatever people can do to help us meet them we’re open to”
 He then went on to say that not only do these leaders volunteer their time at the orphanage they also organize and use their talents of music, and other arts to travel around Kenya to perform and promote the needs of the children (who are mostly orphans due to AIDS)…He said they have a cd that they would love to produce and market as a tool to help raise awareness and to help generate some funds to pour back into the ministry as well.
 I was blown away by the passion and faith of these leaders, and committed to pray for them and do what I could do to help promote the needs back home and see if there are any church groups who would consider helping them with a project that they could partner with.
 I then played soccer with a bunch of the kids and they were gracious enough to let me score a couple of goals…It was a great experience!

• Sylvester and I then went back to the church to tie up some loose ends, and when we pulled into the church, there were about 10 guys hanging out under the BTC tree…these were guys I hadn’t seen before and they definitely had a rough look to them…Sylvester said that they were street kids who dropped out of school, had no place to go and just slept wherever they could and just ran the streets all the time…2 of his youth leaders had begun a ministry reaching out to them, and there they were hanging out at the church waiting for their “Youth Pastors” to show up. Sylvester told me that Lincoln and Richie were the guys that minister to them and that they view them as their Pastors…Lincoln is maybe 19 and Richie is probably about the same age…2 of Sylvester’s guys that he’s trained to reach out and minister to the needs of the kids in his community! Sylvester had to grab some stuff in his office so he said “you can just wait in my office if you want, but I wanted to meet them so I said, “is it ok if I hang out with them?” He said “ok just don’t carry anything valuable”! I walked up to them and said “hey guys what’s up?” and they looked at me like I was some sort of freak (which, of course I am!)…I soon realized that they didn’t know any English because they dropped out of school and have been running the streets…so I thought to myself “I have to connect with these guys somehow”…then I remember that Sylvester said that Lincoln and Richie were their “Pastors”, so I said with a questioning kind of tone “Lincoln…Richie?” as if to say do you know them? Everyone of them stopped what they were doing and looked at me with looks on their faces as if to say “why…what did you do to them?” I them made a fist and placed it over my heart and tapped my chest three times and said “my friends’…well, they just broke into huge smiles and started doing that as well and saying “Lincoln & Richie…My friends”…it was really cool how their attitude towards me changed in an instant when I “dropped the names” of 2 youth leaders who these guys respect…Sylvester came out of his office and we were playing basketball and having a good time, and he was smiling from ear to ear!
• After we left the church, we headed for Nairobi to have lunch in celebration of a great week of ministry! It was great to sit and enjoy a well deserved meal as Sylvester and I praised God for all he did at the camp!
• We still had some time before we needed to be at the airport so Sylvester took me over to see the Kiberi Slums in Nairobi which is home to over a million people, and is the largest slum in all of Africa! It’s the same place that Simon & Ryan from “American Idol” visited last year during their Idol give back campaign…As I stood there on top of a hill that overlooked the slums I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…I can’t even begin to describe it…I just stood there speechless...As we were walking in w
e passed a banner with a cross draped over the door of one of the shantys, and we were moved to pray for the Pastor of this church as he seeks to minister among this wide open mission field.
• Randy arrived from Louisville Monday night and we went to the Hampton House to spend the night and will go up to Kenya Baptist Theological College in the morning, where we will stay until Friday.

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