February 22, 2012
The following is a guest post from Brooke Marsh of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga
Have you ever eaten a yummy mash of potatoes, greens, corn, and onions grilled over a charcoal outdoor oven? Or helped peel potatoes, carrots and cut cabbage in a small, wooden home? Have you ever gotten to pray with someone exactly your age who is HIV+ and has left an abusive husband? Have you ever met a woman who has lost her husband, lost a daughter to drowning, and has another daughter who has AIDS, and yet seen the joy of the Lord shining from her face and heard words of blessing and praise coming from her soft-spoken voice?
We did! A team from our church, Brainerd Baptist Church, just returned from a trip to Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya with CARE for AIDS. Our team included Chuck & Terri Bateman, Ashley Humble, Angie Albee, my 13-year-old daughter Heather Marsh, and me (Brooke Marsh). We were privileged to be led by Duncan Kimani, Cornel Onyango, and Caleb Davison in an immersive tour of the work of CARE for AIDS in Kenya. We emerged on the other end of our trip very impressed with the philosophy and implementation of the vision of CFA.
We got to see firsthand that CARE for AIDS partners closely with the local church to offer a center. This center employs a Kenyan spiritual counselor and a medical counselor to guide clients who are HIV+ through a 9-month program of education and care. In addition to learning how to take care of themselves physically, the clients are discipled spiritually. They are also “empowered” by seminars on how to start a business, farm, raise animals, and many other things that could help them take care of themselves and their families.
We saw that CFA (CARE for AIDS) is all about restoring relationships and community. When a client is diagnosed as “Positive”, they are rejected by their community, their family, and often lose their job as well. Upon receiving the diagnosis, they are inclined to just curl up and wait to die. CFA lets them know that there is hope – they can become healthier, grow in the Lord, have a meaningful work and life, raise their children, and restore the relationships with their family and community. These lives are transformed by this program and the hope that it offers them.
We were so blessed by being able to go with the counselors to several homes. We were welcomed into these clients’ homes and prayed with them. We also visited several centers to see the work of counseling in action. We got to pray with these precious people and surely we knew that the presence of the Lord was in that place!
We attended a graduation and saw the final product of 9 months of counseling and training. We saw graduates who were no longer afraid to admit that they were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and who were alive again, active in their families and communities, and ready to share the good news of their transformation (physically and spiritually) with others.
We got to share words of encouragement with the counselors and pastors who spend their days pouring out into the lives of the clients. We encouraged them to sit at the feet of Jesus and drink of His Word and presence so that they will be full of Jesus and have something to continue to pour out into the lives of others.
My daughter and I departed from the group for a few days to visit family at Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya (an awesome ministry too) so the rest of the team will have to share about the amazing work in Kisumu.
As in so many trips where you go to serve others, we received blessings that seemed so far above what we were able to give. My daughter, Heather, got a glimpse of the world of poverty and suffering beyond what she had ever seen, but we still got to see the joy of Christ in the lives of these people and the hope that they were receiving from the CARE for AIDS program. We are so thankful to have been able to go!