God is in the business of healing hearts – molding, shaping, and refining us for purposes far beyond what we can comprehend or imagine. Isn’t it interesting that throughout this process God leads us to places that we resist the most?
I have had a heart for serving the poor since I first came to know Christ as my savior. It seemed natural to allow the grace and love flowing into me to pour out into others in need of the same hope and healing. I began serving on mission trips in both Mexico and Ecuador.
I loved it and I witnessed God work among his people but I still had a bit of holy discontent, knowing that God desired something not better but different for me. I continually heard God speak to me about Africa, and, in typical human fashion, I consistently turned him down.
In the summer of 2008, I could no longer deny the stirring in my soul. I traveled to Chemolingot, Kenya for the first time with Harvester’s International Ministries, and I was ruined for the people of Africa. We were mutually broken. Their plight became my plight, their burdens my burdens. The task of God’s people is rooted in Christ’s mission. Very simply, Christ preached the good news of the kingdom in word and in deed, and he particularly delighted in loving the hurting, the weak, and the poor. It is my privilege to follow my King’s footsteps into places of brokenness to do the same.
God recently provided for me to serve at Chemolingot once again. In October I traveled on a medical mission team composed of an incredibly talented group of Americans and very generous Kenyan nationals. For two weeks, we rose before the sun and traveled deep into the bush to set up mobile medical clinics to treat members of the Pokot tribe, the very poorest of the poor.
In my mind, these people are the true treasures of Kenya. To define the travel as off road is grossly reducing the difficulty of reaching these people. Folding chairs under trees emerged as makeshift exam rooms, and plastic tables with rope barriers became pharmacies. At times it was disheartening and difficult. We saw many injuries and afflictions that could have easily been prevented in the United States.
I cried and prayed over an infant on the verge of death as I held her in my arms. Yet – victory! God proved himself bigger than our convenient American medical technology, more powerful than our brightly colored packets of medications, and mightier than the goals we set out to accomplish. God was present. Because of his presence, countless wounds were successfully treated, illnesses diagnosed, medicines dispersed, and hearts healed. Yes, hearts were healed.
Many Pokot who walked miles to receive medical treatment also heard the life-changing message of Jesus Christ for the very first time. Our evangelism team cleaned ears, put drops in dusty eyes, but most importantly, they linked the provision of medical care with the hope that can only be found in the Lord. One of my favorite characteristics of the ministry of Harvester’s is the distinction that American teams strive to work with, not for, the national people.
At each clinic, the Pokot were connected to an indigenous pastor who will continue to build into the nationals and provide spiritual instruction on an ongoing basis. I praise God for the leaders he has put in place in Pokot to carry forth this vision.
At Chemolingot, the growth and progress of the church and orphanage was encouraging. I witnessed firsthand the ways in which our efforts and support from the USA are making a tangible difference in the lives of many. On Sunday morning, the church was filled to the brim with faithful worshipers, hanging on Pastor Yusuf’s every word.
Our team had the opportunity to provide and serve a filling meal to each and every child residing in the orphanage, as well as the general church population. Watching children realize with wide eyes that plenty of seconds were available, while sipping their very first soda, made my heart burst with gratitude for those generous donors who made such an event possible.
Buildings that were mere dreams in progress during my last visit are now dormitories holding children who sleep peacefully, knowing they are safe and cared for. A school has been established to educate these kids and opened doors now lead to endless possibilities.
There is great joy and restoration occurring at Chemolingot; however, there is still much work to be done. The aforementioned dormitories require additional beds and mattresses in order to accommodate children waiting to move into the orphanage.
The school is a temporary building and children sit on rocks or even just the dirt floor to learn to read and write. The dining hall is still empty of tables and chairs. The need is great, but our God is greater. My prayer is that our actions and response to these needs will stem directly from God’s leading.
My words are not big enough and simply cannot adequately describe my heart and vision for the people of Africa. For my fellow team members, and myself, two short weeks in Kenya have again proven to cultivate many years of heart-altered living.
The red dirt that was packed beneath our feet as we traveled the roads and paths of Kenya lingers. It is caught in our photographs and smudged into the fabric of my backpack. Best of all, it stained several of my t-shirts. This vibrant hue that pops up at odd times and in inconspicuous places makes my heart smile wide and causes me to love folding laundry, which really says something.
If you have not had the opportunity to travel and minister with a Harvester’s mission team, I encourage you to pray about it. You’ll impact the lives and hearts of many, and who knows, you might just end up with a healed heart of your own. I did.