I was flipping the channels the other night and paused on The Hobbit, one of my favorite movies (The book is better, of course). I came across this quote from J.R.R. Tolkien that made it into the movie: “I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay, small acts of kindness and love.” It is so true. The quote made me think of two events, one recounted in Scripture, and one modern example. In the 12th Chapter of Mark, Jesus was watching people put money in the offering box at a synagogue and saw many rich people putting in large sums and also saw a poor widow who put in two small copper coins. Jesus was moved by this act of kindness and said: "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12: 43-44. The second example comes from the Bethel Children's Centre in Kenya. When children at Bethel learned of a "poor" orphanage several hours away, they gathered their own clothes (most of which has been donated to the Centre by local churches in Kenya), and gave that to the children at this other orphanage. The story still moves me today, but one thing struck me last night. Someone likely donated the clothes to the Bethel kids, making possible the further gift of kindness of the Bethel children to this other orphanage. We don't know the effect a kind word, a simple gift or a small act of kindness can have. Therefore, "let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24.
You may recall four years ago, Huruma assisted the Bethel Children's Centre to purchase land, so they could grow food to support the children at the orphanage. The land is located in a terrific location, right beside a small river. Because Kenya is close to the equator, they are able to grow food throughout the year. Four years later, the land is producing all kinds of food, including maize (similar to corn), cabbage, tomatoes, and papaya. We are very thankful this investment has really paid off and has become such a tremendous blessing! The children love going to the farm to help take care of the crops. Below are some recent photos of the farm as well as a photo of the children preparing the maize, so it can be cooked.
A few years ago, the concept of Giving Tuesday was developed and promoted by a few charitable organizations as a response to encourage giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There are surely many needs in this fallen world, and I have no criticism of charitable and philanthropic organizations that have promoted Giving Tuesday as a means for people to give back to important charitable causes. But, this holiday season, we'd like to ask you to think about the concept of giving yourself a gift. Bear with me a moment while I explain.
If I can be totally transparent, I am uncomfortable about writing blogs about giving or asking people for money, even for a charitable cause. But, this is not about me and my pride; it is about the mission of Christ and what God is doing at the Bethel Children's Centre in Kenya. And, yes, the children who are served by that ministry there have substantial needs. But, the truth of the matter is that God can accomplish all His holy work without any of our help. So, why does he tell us to love our neighbor, and to do good for widows and orphans? Yes, the widows and orphans need help, but so much more than that, WE need help.
In reflecting on giving, one thing that is roundly recognized is how giving actually does us good. Here are a few quotations in which this truth has been acknowledged:
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The best recreation is to do good." —William Penn
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." —Booker T. Washington
"As the purse is emptied the heart is filled " —Victor Hugo.
Proverbs 11:25 says: "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:25. In talking about this verse, Charles Spurgeon said: "We are here taught the great lesson, that to get, we must give; that to accumulate, we must scatter; that to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and that in order to become spiritually vigorous, we must seek the spiritual good of others. In watering others, we are ourselves watered. . . . We do not know what tender sympathies we possess until we try to dry the widow's tears, and soothe the orphan's grief." So, this year, I'd ask you to celebrate this holiday season by giving a gift to yourself. You may be surprised how the Giver can and does do amazing things with the least and most humble of gifts and what it would be like to experience the joy of being a part of that. Think about the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus, and saw how Jesus took that modest gift and fed thousands of people. How many times throughout his life do you think that boy looked back on that day with a smile on his face?
Through God's work at Bethel, lives have been changed. Children who have experienced the worst kinds of hardship have found hope. And, not only that, we have seen older children taking a hand in mentoring and training younger children and are making an impact in their schools. Before our very eyes, we are seeing five loaves and two fish be multiplied. The truth of the matter is this: God, the creator of the universe, doesn't NEED our humble gifts. He can do anything. So, why does he choose to go through the trouble of doing His work through the pitiful gifts of fallen humans? I think He does it for OUR joy. So, we'd like to ask you to give yourself the gift of joy, and we'd humbly ask you to consider coming along beside us.
As always, we do our best to be good stewards of the gifts with which we are entrusted. With Huruma, we have no paid employees. We have no office. When we go on a mission trip, we and the other team members contribute our own travel costs. So, 100% of every gift you give goes directly to support the mission of ministering to impoverished children in Kenya.
We'd also encourage you to go and see what the Lord is doing at the Bethel Children's Centre. We are prayerfully considering a trip in 2019. Stay tuned!
The Christmas Holidays are a popular time to reflect upon the past year. This year has been a challenging and rewarding year for the Bethel Children's Centre in Ruiru, Kenya. Among the challenges were:
We at Huruma ask you to prayerfully consider making a gift to Huruma this year. When you give to Huruma, you can be assured that 100% of your gift will go directly to support needy children in Bethel Children's Centre care in Kenya. By giving, you can experience the joy of knowing that your gift has made an impact in the lives of these children. But, more importantly, your gift is an investment in the future and can help transform the community. The children at the Bethel Children's Centre have had their lives changed because of the generosity of others who provide love and care for their needs. But, even more exciting is the fact that these children in turn are growing up into thoughtful and inspired leaders in their community.
We thank you for your consideration and covet your prayers as we seek God's wisdom on how we can best serve Him in the coming year.
The drought in Eastern Africa has caused a historic humanitarian crisis. Normally, there are two primary "rainy" seasons in Kenya: one during the months of October through December and another larger one in April and May. Earlier this year, we wrote about the terrible effects the drought has had on Kenya, leaving 2.6 million people in danger of hunger. The hope was that drought would be helped by the April and May rainy season, but the rain received was 75 percent below average. The cumulative effects of this continued drought has been scarcity of food and soaring food prices. The Bethel Children's Centre has taken in nine additional children this year due to the crisis, four of whom lost their parents as a result of hunger and five of whom came from a "poor" orphanage in another part of the country. Taking on these additional children has created some new challenges. One such challenge is space. Most of the new children were very young, too young to attend classes at Bethel's school, so Bethel began pre-school classes for these children, but both the school and the orphanage are at (or above) maximum capacity. With Huruma's assistance, Bethel has now built a structure which will serve as a school building for these pre-school kids. The other major challenge is resources. Not only does it cost more to take care of these additional children, but the continued soaring food prices has caused more and more of Bethel's budget to be used for food than was anticipated for this year.
So, we'd like to ask you for several things. First, we ask for your prayers. Prayers that God will bring rain, and prayers for provision for the people of Eastern Africa. Second, Huruma humbly asks for your help. When you give to Huruma, you can be assured that 100% of your gift will go directly to support needy children in Bethel Children's Centre care in Kenya. The challenge is great, but our God is greater.
Three years of poor rains have triggered a national disaster in Kenya, with 2.6 million people hungry, critical rates of child malnutrition and devastating livestock deaths, according to a report recently published in Reuters. It's hard to hear a story like that, but it's even harder to hear first-hand accounts of and see the faces of children whose lives are devastated by such tragedy. The Bethel Children's Centre is doing what it can to help in this desperate time. This year, Bethel has taken in nine more children, the most it ever has taken in at one time. Four of those children lost their parents recently due to hunger-related complications. The other five are from a "poor" orphanage in the Rift Valley where the two caretakers' normal struggle to care for the seventy plus children in their care has been rendered many times worse by the recent scarcity of water, and consequently, food. Pray for thanks that all nine of these children are now safe and happy in the care of the Bethel Children's Centre. The photos of three of them are shown below, from left to right: Masinto, Musa and Joshua.) Pray also for rain in Kenya. And, pray that our hearts will be opened and we will be given wisdom as to how we in the Western world can help our Kenyan brothers and sisters in this time of crisis.
This time a year is a season in which we hear a lot of great stories about people doing wonderful things in the name of Christ all over the world. These stories make us feel good in our hearts and give us hope. And we make resolutions for the new year about how we are going to be better people - how we are going to be kinder and how we will try to be more like those Super Christians. But, when we fail to keep those resolutions, we think back about those inspirational stories, we are reminded about our failures, and we feel inadequate, discouraged, unworthy and unqualified.
I was really drawn to a book I came across with the title: (Un)Qualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things by Steven Furtick. In the book, Furtick said:
"When you discover who God is, you discover who you are. And when you discover who you are, you no longer have to struggle with the insecurity and self-promotion that define much of society. You no longer have to strain to measure up, to qualify. You are free to be yourself."
In Christ, we are accepted not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but whose we are. Knowing that we are accepted because of what Christ has done, should free us. As Furtick says:
"God wants to blow the lid off your expectations of yourself. Stop talking about who you are not and what you cannot do, and start listening to what God says about your life. Stop labeling yourself, and start letting God do whatever he wants in and through and with you."
Many times since we started this mission with Huruma, I have started writing something to post on this website only to be held up by the haunting thought, “Who am I to write this? I’m not remotely qualified to be doing this.” But, the message of the Cross is, “Yes, you’re right. But, your Savior can do anything.”
So, this year, I would challenge you to trust God, step out and be bold in loving others. And, start small. If you want to find out how you can do that through Huruma, stay tuned. We are contemplating another mission trip to Kenya, possibly in April 2017. You don’t need to be “qualified” to be used by God. He’s got a pretty good record of working through the “unqualified.”
We are very excited about all of the things that God is doing in Kenya. The Bethel Children's Centre has been serving more children than ever before. We have the largest group of students going to high school next year than ever before. The good news is that frees up more space at the Centre to bring in more young children, as the older kids go off to school. At the same time, the tuition and fees of the children going to high school has risen. As you consider end of the year giving, we hope that you will prayerfully consider supporting this mission. Huruma has no paid staff, so 100% of any funds you donate will go directly to support these precious children. In addition, there are other exciting opportunities Huruma is considering in Kenya, and we would ask your prayers for wisdom as we consider them.
I suppose by now perhaps I should not be surprised at being amazed, but here I am. Earlier this week, Andrew, Agnes and I visited what they called a "needy" orphanage in the Rift Valley. (Let that sink in for a minute). On the way there, they told me that the children at the Bethel Childten's Centre had heard about this "needy" orphanage and took up a collection of their own clothes to take to the children at this "needy" orphanage. Can you imagine that? This is what Jesus meant when He said "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5:16. The light of radical love is shining over here, and the radiance is indeed something to see.
I'll be honest. This trip didn't start well. First, I've been going though a bit of a spiritual valley lately, and while you would think the prospect of going on a mission trip to see children and friends that I love would put me in the right frame of mind and spirit, something just didn't feel right and it really bothered me. The situation wasn't helped by a few traveling inconveniences, such as being told when I checked in at the airport that I wouldn't be able to get on the flight because my Kenyan visa had not been approved, or finding out when I arrived in Kenya after 24 hours of traveling that my two checked bags did not make it, or the reaction I had to my anti-malarial medication. But, God has been applying the electric paddles to my heart the past two days, and the old ticker is starting to beat again. I think the first jolt was when a five year old girl named Eunice who just came to the Centre a few months ago shook my hand to meet me and then just wouldn't let go. and slid in beside me The next jolt came when Eunice's three year old sister named Abigail was giggling, hugging Andrew Mukumbu's neck, calling him "daddy", and saying "I love you, too" back to him. And, today, my heart was lifted by watching the sheer joy in the children's eyes, as they got a rare treat to go swimming. There's a song by Phillips, Craig & Dean called "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again that I've listened to a lot lately,. The Chorus goes: "Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away, step into the dawn of grace. Yesterday's a closing door. You don't live there anymore. So, say goodbye to where you've been and tell your heart to beat again.." I can't say I'm ready to be discharged from the recovery room, but I can feel that heart beating, and that heartbeat is what gives me hope.
The Jericho Road
This is the blog of Huruma International Ministries. Huruma seeks to fulfill our calling to "go and do likewise" as instructed by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The lesson of the Good Samaritan is not about achieving spiritual success through our own efforts. No, what we learn is that we are to give mercy, because we have been given mercy. We are all poor and needy. We are all travelers on the Jericho Road