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.
"A picture is not always worth a thousand words. You can take a picture of Mount Rushmore from the right perspective and have a pretty good idea of what it's really like. But you can take as many pictures as you want of what is happening here and never truly understand the reality of this place without experiencing it for yourself. Just had a thought - it's like reading about God but you can't truly know Him until you experience Him which I am definitely doing this week - taste and see that the Lord is good."
By Pete Houk, on his first mission trip to Kenya with Huruma.
Watching this video from our mission trip last year has really made me look forward to going back to Kenya next month!
This is Joseph and Joseph. Joseph (the one with the cap) just graduated from Moffett Bible College. The other Joseph is studying microfinance at Kenyatta University. There is actually another Joseph who is still in high school and is a close friend of these two. (Pictured underneath with me). Each of them are among the finest young men I could ever hope to meet. They are all wonderful leaders in their own way. Joseph (the Moffett graduate) preaches and leads worship. The other Joseph (holding the Moffett Joseph) is thoughtful, introspective and inquisitive. And, the third Joseph (shown with me below), is also a leader, plays the piano and drums and is a laughing, sensitive young man who seems to be always singing. These three are a shining example of how God is moving in a mighty way at the Bethel Children's Centre.
We just received an email update from Andrew Mukumbu with great news on several subjects from the Bethel Children's Centre that brightened my day, and so I just had to share: "The week has been good so far, though very busy. All the kids have reported to school, and we have about 4 more children who have joined the centre. We praise God that we can be able to serve them. It's just a blessing.
The construction is on course and maybe by next week we will start the roofing work. I am sending some photos on that, plus some of the farming project and the feeding of the kids from the farm produce."
All of this is such a blessing, and we hope to have more news soon!
We are pleased to report, because of the generosity of our supporters, construction has begun for a second level of one of the buildings at the Bethel Children's Centre. To recap, Kenya has had significant flooding in the last months. Leaks have appeared in many of the roofs of the buildings and have needed to be repaired. In addition, the orphanage is currently at capacity so no space is available for house parents to live at the Centre. We are so encouraged by your generosity, and that Huruma has been able to fund the first stage of construction for a second level of one of the buildings. We are very excited about this development, and we are so very thankful for your support. Without a doubt, there is more work to be done, but this is a very good start, and for that, we are truly blessed. Stay tuned for more exciting news!
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