In the spring of 2011 I took a trip with my youth group to Knoxville, TN. We spent the week loving on, and learning from the residents of Riverwood. This facility is a home for adults with special needs, run by an incredibly patient, Jesus-loving-lady, Rhonna. I don't remember the details of the events that went down that day, but I have forever remembered a phrase that rang through the home that week. I remember one of the men coming to Rhonda very upset (because of events with his family). He'd been weeping and wailing and the gentle touch of Rhonda was the only thing that could calm him down. That evening Rhonda called a family meeting. The members of the home gathered in their communal living room as we sat around the edges, feeling as though we were being let in on something too personal or intimate for strangers. Rhonda pulled out her bible and began to read, "Carry each other's burdens...what's a burden?" Faces went blank. "It's a hurt," yelled one man. "I don't know," mumbled the next. "It makes you feel heavy," stuttered a woman softly. Rhonna proceeded to explain to them, and us, that as lovers of Jesus we are called to carry each other's burdens. Within the Riverwood family sometimes life would be hard for their brothers and sisters. When things get tough they need to lift each other up, encourage each other, and pray for one another. The rest of the week that family sang, "Carry. Each. Other's. Burdens." It became a consistent echo throughout the walls.
Over the year I've found God using that sing-song verse in Galatians to speak into me. I could be talking to a friend in need; He'll whisper "Carry each other's burdens". In Kenya He has stopped me in my tracks with this verse as I witness situations that break my heart; He shouts "Carry each other's burdens." When Paul wrote these words to the Galatian church I believe he meant for them to be something that united the body of believers. I know that today there is nothing that brings us closer to Christ, and to each other than Prayer.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, I'm asking you to carry the burdens of your Kenyan brothers and sisters. I have three big prayer requests for you over the coming weeks.
This is Emmanuel. He latched on to Lauren from the moment he walked into the meeting room at Kisumu Urban Apostolate Program, an organization that LIA partners with to protect abused and neglected children, and to rehabilitate runaways. Emmanuel is six years old. Up until a month ago, he spent his days with his hands tied and bound to a bed. All day. Every day.
An LIA staff found him, after news spread of children coming to look at the boy tied to the bed. Covered in wounds, many oozing puss, Emmanuel and his older brother were taken from their home and their father and step mother were taken into custody. Over the last month Emmanuel'a physical wounds have healed. He is now attending school. He and his brother look out for one another. He's been delivered from a terrible evil. God has been faithful to protect him and restore him. On July 20th Emmanuel's parents return to court. This final court date will determine whether or not they are convicted and their rights are terminated. Please pray for Emmanuel and his brother as the trial approaches— that God would protect them and continue to renew their hearts.
These ladies are known as the Salina Stars. They are comprised of eleven women who were all widowed in the post election violence that occurred in Kenya in 2007. Between these four women there are 22 children. That's a lot of school fees and a lot of mouths to feed. Through the trainings of LIA, Pastor Andrew brought together these eleven women to begin a small business together. Four years ago they began to meet, to pray, and to save. They started with 20¢ which they used to begin making soap as a group. This soap began to pay for school fees for their children. Their funds continued to grown as they began to save more and more together. They were able to buy chairs for their meetings and these awesome group shirts. Now, they meet once a week to build each other up and hold each other accountable economically. Salina is the area in which they live. "We chose the name Salina Star because where we stay there is no progress. We are widows. We chose star so we can bring out light in this place. Even now we are shining." Please pray for these ladies and their families as the national election approaches the first week of August (after I leave—don't worry!) They are very fearful—many of them have already stopped working and moved to the rural areas to prepare for next month. Their past hurts continue to leave their presents' crippled with fear. Please lift them up and ask that the Lord would provide comfort for them, and strengthen them. Ask God to help them believe that the election will pass peacefully, as the nation is praying it will.
Finally, today we were able to attend a medical camp that the LIA staff here in Kisumu have worked very hard on. They had no funds, but with the partnership the government offered, God provided volunteer doctors and medicine. Residents were able to come to the clinic for free all day today. For the last month, all of Kenya's nurses have been on strike. Y'all. All of their nurses have been on strike for a month. This makes it nearly impossible for the average person to be treated, as bribes are a key way to be seen in the over crowded, unorganized hospitals right now. Today we saw God's faithfulness in a big way as He was able to provide medical care to so many because of the faith and trust that the LIA staff had in Him to bring resources. Please pray for the health of this community, which is ridden with malaria and HIV. Please pray for the government hospitals and the nurses...that they would come to an agreement very soon.
Thank you all so much for continuing to follow all that God is doing in Kenya. I am so blessed by your prayers and support. On Monday I will travel to Narok, a rural area, and my final evangelical community. I will be home in three short weeks and I cannot wait to share all that God has done!