It has been a lifelong prayer of mine that God would make me a witness to his work. This prayer was overwhelmingly answered during my trip to Kenya last September. It is hard to believe it has almost been a year as the lessons God taught me are still so fresh in my mind. Those who know me have heard me say that this trip to East Africa changed my life, and that is nothing short of the truth. I believe my heart is in a better place and I have such a better understanding of God’s work through us on this Earth since returning.
Experiencing the Lord in Kenya was like experiencing the Lord for the first time. The raw emotion of watching our staff love and care for our clients in the CARE for AIDS program is something that has been imprinted on my heart forever. God taught me five specific lessons during and after my trip that I want to share with you.
We all have comfort zones and going to Africa probably doesn’t fall within the parameters of many of them. Stepping out definitely seems scary and certainly comes with struggles but by stepping out of our comfort zones, it allows us to see just how much we can learn. All too often we go about life the same way, which results in us missing what God has for us. Immersing yourself in a different place, culture, and situation allows you to view things differently. My trip to Kenya taught me just how beautiful the world is, every nation, every tongue. God is working on this Earth and it was a blessing to experience his work in such a pure way. If I hadn’t have said “Yes” to his call, I would have missed one of my greatest blessings.
Reach the marginalized
I once heard it said that “Your love for God is permanently capped at the amount of love you have for the people in society who you like the very least.” There is an incredible stigma in Kenya against individuals with HIV/AIDS. The disease is viewed as a moral hazard and individuals who have it are often dismissed from their families and communities. While in Kenya I watched as our staff worked to identify these outcast individuals and care for them like no one else would. Our staff on the ground in Kenya are the absolute heroes of our mission and it was an incredible joy to watch them be the hands and feet of Christ reaching those who were the most marginalized in society, just like Jesus would.
Find your joy in the Lord
If there is an adjective I would use to describe the clients I had the opportunity to spend time with, it would be Joyous. I think as Americans, we think that all people affected by poverty in Africa are sad, but it is quite the contrary. The individuals I got to know had such a spring of joy within them. It is clear that they found their identity, worth, and purpose in the Lord and did not allow their lack of possessions to stifle their faith. It was such a privilege to visit a few of our clients in their homes and I strive daily to remember their example of running fearlessly to God for every source of joy and fulfillment.
While worshiping alongside the rest of our team with the members of the Gachie Deliverance Church in Nairobi, I understood Worship for the first time. I have always understood singing to praise the Lord and worship through studying his word, but this was different. Each person was absolutely filled with the spirit of Christ and worshiped him the best they knew how. The members of this church lifted every bit of talent the Lord gave them unapologetically. It was so refreshing to see a church body so focused on lifting their song that the pitch, tone, or technicalities of the music were not the primary focus - God was.
Treasure your time
If you have been to Kenya, you know how inevitable it is to get off schedule. Things moved slower, people talked more, and rushing to the next activity simply didn’t happen. It was evident that these people knew that time was a treasure and not to waste it worrying about what we were doing next, but to enjoy the present. Slowing down allowed me to witness the beauty of the country and it’s people constantly, prompting pauses to thank God for his love frequently throughout the day. Since returning home and adjusting back to a fast paced world, I try to slow down each day to remember my friends in Kenya and what they taught me about the treasure this life truly is.
I am forever thankful for Kenya and the affect it had on my life and cannot wait to return! If God is calling you to step out, I encourage you to join one of the CARE for AIDS Impact Trips in 2018. Seeing the work of CARE for AIDS first hand was such a privilege and allowed God to make me a witness to the great works he is doing in and through the Heroes of our mission in East Africa.