For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
~ Romans 1:11-12
What a trip Kenya was, I am still trying to process through everything that we saw the Lord do and all that we experiences. This is a trip that I can say I returned with a full heart and greatly encouraged by the work that is going on in Kenya, specifically through the ministry of SIM and Sports Friends.
We traveled to Kijabe, Kenya for purpose of connecting with missionaries from our church to assist them in the running of a sports camp for Special Needs children in the area. However, this camp was so much more than simply playing sports with some children for a few days. As we arrived at Camp Wendo (think Baptist encampment in the States) we quickly learned that many believed that this would be the first camp for children with special needs ever put on in Kenya, you see many see disabilities as a curse in their culture. Those born with disabilities in Kenya are often ignored, marginalized, or treated even worse.
This camp consisted of two parts: 1) Connect with the Children and 2) Connect with their families. To show the children they are seen, known and loved by God; as well as help the families know they are not alone, but are also seen, known and loved by God.
Connect with Children
These children, were so precious. The camp was set up for ultimate attention to the children, each camper had one American coach and one Kenyan coach assigned to them. It was then our joy to love on them and serve them for three days. Through eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with them; accompanying them to chapel, and playing many different activities with them. For some this meant kicking of a ball for hours on end, and for some this meant sitting in the sun allowing the child to feel the warmth of then sun. The three days were draining and filling all at the same time; physically tiring as some campers had to be carried everywhere, and spiritually filling as we were blessed with the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in this campers life.
Connect with Families
Many of these families have been living in isolation for many years. All of these families were from the same area and yet did not know each other. While our team was loving on and playing with the children, the local staff with SIM was loving on the families through a workshop for them. Answering questions such as, “Are there people with disabilities in America? or just Kenya?” And hearing comments like, “I thought we were the only ones with a child with a disability, I had no idea there were others!”
It’s hard to put into words the apparent impact of this camp, we heard one mom testify that at the end of the camp she now saw her son as a blessing, no one had ever told her that before, and she had never seen it.
- Importance of Community – These families had no idea there were others in the world and even in their neighborhoods that were in the same situations as them. Until we are willing to be venerable and let others into our lives we will face many circumstances feeling alone. Walking in community reminds us we aren’t alone, and we aren’t the only ones, facing whichever circumstance we find ourselves in.
- Freeing of the Gospel – It’s the Gospel that sets us free and allows us to serve out of this freedom. As the truth of the Gospel was revealed to these families, burdens that had been carried for years were lifted. The Gospel frees you to step outside your comfort zone to love on those who don’t speak your language, look like you, or can ever repay you.
- Global Work of God – We serve a Global God who is doing a Global work all around the world. This week in Kenya reminded me that He is doing a work of drawing people to Himself of every tribe, nation and tongue. He allows us to play a part in this process, though we aren’t needed.
- Encouragement of the Saints – There is a strengthening of souls that occurs as saints labor alongside one another for the sake of the Gospel. Both our missionaries and the team I was blessed to serve alongside displayed not only to the campers and their families but also to me, Jesus. Watching their actions helped me see Jesus more clearly and love Him more.
- People are People – Despite language barriers, culture difference, abilities or disabilities, people are people. Precious image bearers of God who are seen, loved and known by Him. A smile, a hug, attention to them goes a long way to connecting with them and pointing them to Christ. This takes effort, comes easily on a mission trip, but it is imperative that we practice this in our lives daily with those we do life around.
I could go on and on about this trip, I don’t have time to go into all that I learned from being around Shane, Allyson, Shaun, Abby, Stephanie, Sheri, Greg, Cambi and others. The Lord is doing some amazing things in Kenya, I’m thankful for the opportunity to see a part of it.
One final thought, let us not neglect to remember those whom have gone from us for the work of the Gospel around the globe. Remember to pray for them, reach out to them, remind them we are all in this together, that they are not alone. It’s the people of God, doing to the work of God for the Glory of God!
“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
– John Stott