Over the past 10 years, I probably haven’t spent more than a month in the city by the lake, and if you asked Cornel, he would say I dislike Kisumu. The heat and mosquitos don’t agree with me. But the truth is, so many of my breakthrough moments have happened there. I solicited a prostitute there for our first documentary; I’ll never forget Ann and her story. I met Pamela there- the woman on our first trip whose story almost single-handedly inspired the creation of CARE for AIDS. Three years later, she was admitted into our program. I met Norah, Cornel’s mom, near Kisumu. She continues to be a living example of the power of orphan prevention.
My heart is also heaviest in Kisumu. The stories are more graphic, tragic, and heart wrenching than most places we work. Mothers lose three or four consecutive babies without seeking medical help because they believe they have been cursed for dishonoring their family. Men marry or inherit multiple wives and you see HIV sweep through their family and children. Corrupt pastors have traded truth for lies. Like the one who swindled one of our clients out of her life’s savings for a sugar cane investment and never repaid it. There are some dark things in Kisumu, but our staff and the churches we partner with are a marvelous light in that community.
As we take some time this month to shine a light on the amazing people and stories from Kisumu, I have to share one of my favorite home visits during my time at the Nyalenda Baptist Center.
This is David. David was recruited into the CARE for AIDS program with a CD4 count of 4. A healthy level would be 800+. This means he had no ability to fight off possible infections. He weighed about 70 lbs. His life was over, but Monica and Elias (counselors at the center) didn’t accept that. They came to his rescue. His recovery was slow, but he began to gain weight and increase his CD4 count. He also heard about a savior named Jesus, and he trusted Him for the first time. With this new life came a new countenance. He couldn’t stop smiling. The love he had for Monica and the love he had for Jesus was so radiant. He still couldn’t walk all the way to church on graduation day, but he insisted that Geofrey come and pick him up on his motorbike, which he happily did.
If you wonder about the urgency of our work, think about David. He was as close as a man can come to death, but through God’s power and the work of our team, his life and eternity were redeemed.
Friends in Kisumu, your work is not unnoticed or forgotten. You face incredible trials and unspeakable hardships, but the impact you are making is unbelievable. We remember you in our prayers often. I can’t wait to be with you next month. May God continue to bless you and encourage you as you do this amazing work.