In my last blog, I shared that “hope” is what brought me to Kenya. It is indeed that desire that brought me here. It is that hope and my love for others that resulted in my decision to commit to a three-month season of serving alongside my brother and sister in the faith, Pastor Paul and Mary Odari of Divine Life Kenya (DLK). The best way to describe these two amazing people is that they are the real deal. They are humble servants who are actively shepherding their community as God has called them to do, most times sacrificially.
While some of you may not share my faith, you are likely familiar with one of the most known Scripture passages about love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and 13
It is that kind of love that brought me to Kenya. I arrived in Kenya on August 22 with the primary goal of ministering to women; a calling on my life that God has made undeniably clear. Following my primary commitment as key note speaker/teacher at a three-day women’s conference at which, to my surprise, I saw that many local pastors were also in attendance, I have been invited by these pastors to teach their congregations at various churches nearly twenty times now. Every time I have prepared a new message, God has used it for just those present. It’s been remarkable to hear how my messages line up with their current issues or concerns.
So ministering to women has most certainly been a key focus for me. In addition to groups, I am also providing leadership training to the church staff and mentoring ladies one on one. One in particular, a single mom who had really suffered some serious life-blows, meets with me weekly. Her transformation through God’s truth and hope has already been amazing and inspiring!
So while I’ve certainly been used to minister to women while I’m here, what’s been unexpected — what I could not possibly have known before coming to Kenya — is what else God had in mind for me to do. First, God has given me a deep love for Kenya and the wonderful Kenyan people. And while I desired to serve this community, what I didn’t expect was this community to become my community. Yet they have. I love this community so much and it is an honor to be here. I have never felt so respected and appreciated and so well-cared for. The name Kenya does not technically mean love. But to me, it surely does.
This leads me to some of the other projects I’ve been working on here and to my bold “ask” of each of you. First, as you read this post, kindly take the time to read the details I will share below. And while you do, please consider how you can help. In return, I know you will feel the incredible satisfaction that comes when you show love to others who are so in need of someone to care.
I know some of you can help a little, some a little more and many of you can help a lot. I’m going to be so bold as to say that nearly everyone can afford to help, even if it means to sacrifice a bit. For a little perspective, the average Kenyan family earns $1,246 Kenyan shillings (KES) per year. This is equal to around $14.00 US. You read that right…fourteen dollars! The good news is that the exchange rate is far in our favor here so every dollar equals an average of $80 KES which is much stronger buying power. So here we go:
- Upendo Home: Upendo means love and love is our goal. There’s an estimated one thousand orphans on the streets of nearby Kitale Town. Think of them like this. They have no parents or protection, no food, no shelter, no school…no love. About two months back, I helped rescue one of these boys, Junior, from the street. I shared about this in my post “Rejected.” Junior now lives with the Odaris and is doing remarkably well. Since rescuing Junior, the other boys recognize me and are wondering when it will be there turn. Every time I see them, I assure them we are working on it. Each time I have to walk away without taking another boy, my heart breaks for them a little more. This last week, as we were giving the boys food, they were telling me God was going to bless me! Yes indeed. While our initial large goal is to raise $70,000 US to build a permanent home to house 20 boys, this week after leaving them yet again, I knew that I simply could not leave Kenya without getting something started. With many thanks to the dedicated fundraising efforts of just two ladies stateside — Joyce Pratt and Nina Olivos — we’ve figured out that for around $1,000 US, we can afford to build a simple, temporary home to get six more precious boys off the street by the end of October. In fact, we broke ground today on the church property and by the end of October, six more precious boys will learn just how much love we have for them as we welcome them to their new home! How you can help: Your one-time or recurring donation will help with the monthly costs to support the boys and toward the funds needed to build the formal home. Before I leave for the US in early November, I’ll also be posting pictures of our fist six little loves and asking for personal sponsors for each of them.
- Single Mom Hand Up: This dear woman is the one I mentioned above who I am mentoring. When I first met her, she was in dire straights. She could not find work and was risking eviction. I was able to pay her back rent to prevent eviction and give her grocery money for her and her three young children. She’s now working at the school in exchange for living expenses as currently none of the teachers are being paid. All are working on a volunteer basis (see below). How you can help: Your one-time or recurring donation will help ensure this single mom is able to maintain her simple home and food for her family while she waits for a paid position. (These are very hard to come by here!) Also, this woman has a large orange-sized Lipoma (non-cancerous growth) on her dominant forearm. This limits her full use of her arm and causes her a great amount of discomfort. Surgery to remove this growth at its current size is $570.00
- School / School Teachers: Amazing Love Academy is the school branch of DLK. While the simple school has been built nearly to completion, we are in need of $1,500 US to finish the building. In addition to this, there is no money for school curriculum for this year which would cost $250.00. Also, DLK is unable to pay their staff! These five dedicated teachers, one cook and custodian are working for free as they believe that strongly in educating the youth. The monthly wages to support all seven staff members is $530.00. How you can help: Sponsor the purchase of the school curriculum Your one-time or recurring donation
I will stop here. This is an incomplete list but three of the most pressing needs. I will share others in a future post. I give you my solemn promise that every dollar you donate will go directly to the ministry need with no overhead cost deducted whatsoever. You can donate for a specific cause or you can make a general donation and we can share what we do with it.
Love. The greatest gift we can offer. We need you to help share love with others. So will you please? I hope you say yes and I am awaiting your reply. Please message me at email@example.com, via blog comment or send your donation now via PayPay to firstname.lastname@example.org. (If possible, please round your donation up by the 3.1% service fee) Thanks so very much from the bottom of my heart and the hearts of the amazing people of Kenya.
Nawapenda! (I love you all)