On Thursday June 13, my thirteen-year-old daughter, Abbi, and I anxiously boarded the airplane in Dallas, Texas. Neither one of us had ever been to Africa let alone crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Our trip was filled with everything we expected and numerous unexpected events as well. For the past several years our church, The Oaks in Grand Prairie, has participated in giving to Project Biashara. The ladies of our church have specifically been drawn to this unique ministry. Our intention was to go as a survey, with the hopes of establishing a future trip for our church in the summer of 2014.
If you are going on a mission trip it is important to remember to plan for the unexpected because plans will change. In route to Nairobi, Kenya, one of our planes was delayed by four hours causing us to miss the next leg of our itinerary. After several phone calls and new flights we landed in Kenya.
Due to our delay, we missed the first part of the trip that Sandy and Karen had organized for us. This meant that we needed to join with another church. We were both a little nervous and bummed because we did not know anyone.
Midway Church from Aubrey, Texas, welcomed us with gracious arms and made us feel like we were a part of their church family quickly. God knew that my daughter needed the experience of other teenagers on the trip with her. Thank you Midway for being a Godsend in the middle of Africa!
As a pastor, I was looking forward to speaking in a foreign country with an interpreter. However, with the flight delays those plans evaporated. Honestly I was a little disappointed, but quoted a popular saying, “This is Africa,” and moved on.
On Sunday we had the privilege of worshipping in Kibera with some of the participants of Project Biashara and the New Hope School. I had no idea how God was going to move. It was a divine set-up. God had so orchestrated the events for our trip so that He could speak into our lives.
People and children began to overflow the church building with laughter and excitement. The girls were excited to touch and pull my daughter’s curly hair. To my amazement, Abbi picked up a little child. She quickly sat the kid on her lap and hugged her. I was impressed and for a moment I was awe struck- that was my little girl.
During the worship service, there was a little girl who was playing on the floor in front of me. Abbi encouraged me to pick her up and immediately my inner struggle began. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. This little girl appeared filthy and I was clean. My daughter continued to say, “pick her up.” I replied, “she is okay, she is having fun.”
Finally, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me go, so I picked up the little girl and she was wet from soiling herself. I sat her on my knee and then to my excitement she wanted down. Just as I was putting her down, Abbi, reached out and picked her up. Immediately she sat her on her lap and began hugging her. I was shocked, humbled, and convicted. Secretly, I was glad that was over.
We stood back up to sing and little boys grabbed my hand. This was good. I could handle this. In my mind I thought I was doing great. God and I had a good conversation during the current song. I apologized for being such a snob and asked God to forgive me. There was even a commitment to pick up the next child without my daughter’s prompting.
As we sat back down, a little boy with his enormous eyes looked up at me and I picked him up. Not even thinking about it I hugged him. One member of Midway’s team got up to sing a special song. The lyrics of the song talked about how much God loves us. After the song, one of the pastors from Midway began to preach. He began talking about God’s love as well.
Right then the little boy relieved himself and it began running down my leg. When he finished, he cuddled up next to me, laying his little head on my chest. I hugged him. God whispered into the depths of my soul, “I see your filth and yet I welcome you in. I love this little boy. I love you.” I am not a crier and not driven by emotions. There in that little church tears began to flow down my face.
God had a message for me and it took me getting out of my comfort zone and being willing to do something different. I am so thankful for Karen and Sandy and their New Hope Initiative. They are doing great work. Lives are being changed for the better. If you get a chance to take a trip with them, please don’t hesitate. Who knows, God may have a special message waiting for you in Kenya!
By Heath Marion