REDEEM With God was organized in order to bring about awareness of the world to my own back yard. It was developed so that the eyes of my people would be open to the atrocities of not only their neighbors near but their neighbors far. It began in an effort to wake up the church of America to not just preach but act; to leave the pulpit and pews and reach out to the people. The vision of this organization was to equip missionaries to serve the world; empowering daughters and sons across the nation to utilize their gifts for the purpose of liberation from bondage. And I knew the first nation we would serve would be in Kenya.
After returning from a one month journey in Kenya in January of 2012, I immediately began training six women to effectively minister to those in Kenya. Mariah and Elizabeth, fellow colleagues from Asbury Seminary, had ever served overseas in the past; Elizabeth studying to be an evangelist and Mariah a professor of Intercultural Studies. The other four members were made up of my mother,Calvonia; sister, Christian; church member, Lynette; and best friend, Pam. Each of these women, including our photographer and former World Race team member, Jeanne Bensch, were carefully selected to be a part of the first team to serve the orphans of Intreach.
I was a witness to these women developing close-knit relationships with one another. They encouraged one another as if they had been friends for years. This bond was like that of the early church that formed amongst this group. They shared common ground and made sure that one did not go without. The love I saw on this team far surpassed any team I had ever served alongside. It was as if this team was a divine gift. You can imagine our dismay when our sister, Pam was forced to postpone her journey to May. The team shared everything, even struggles.
The greatest struggle for missionaries is raising support. It can become extremely difficult, frustrating and discouraging when you know you are doing what God has called you to do and you do not see where the finances are coming from. I watched as this team took on extra work, sacrificed luxuries so that they could use their money to serve people they had never interacted with. They used their gifts to organize a program to raise support. Each of them kept the faith when even after great advertisement the program was poorly attended. I interceded for them when they still had hundreds of dollars to produce and had no clue where it would come from. And then it happened. Right at the end, a grandfather of a friend sent a love offering that covered the remainder of the team’s needed amount.
You know that old adage that says, “When you give it will be given back to you”? I truly saw that come to pass. Though my heart is in Kenya, I continue to give back right in my own backyard. I had just given of my time to a girls group in the area. I had given of my resources to friends. I even gave money and time to seminary for two years with the sole purpose of bettering my girls in Kenya. When you are selfish with your time and money, you fail to experience the beauty that comes from giving. Some of that beauty was not seen until we arrived to Kenya and visited the homes of our beautiful sponsored children.
The eleven months that passed before returning to Kenya were extremely long at times and far too short at other times. There was so much to do in preparation and work and school kept me overly occupied. It was around March that I received an email from Joshua Orawo, a law student concerned for the welfare of orphan children. It was this letter that provided confirmation I was to work in Kenya. Through relationship with school officials in Rabbour, Joshua was given a list of fifty children who were in dire need of sponsorship. With hardly any money in the REDEEM With God account, I blindly assured Joshua we would partner with him and be able to sponsor those children by the end of the year. I had no idea how the money would come, I just knew it would. God surely provided. Churches began inviting me to speak about my dear ones from Intreach. I had only seen pictures of these children; I was yet to look into their eyes and really know their hearts.
I look back and cannot help but laugh at how God chose to unfold things. It was not until after my team walked through thick mud to reach the homes of thirty-five out of fifty children that money began to pour in. Still all the children were not sponsored and the day reached for us to purchase their shoes. Once again I walked blindly. I told the Intreach Team to go ahead and get shoes for all the children. I knew the money would come. And sure enough by the weekend all 50 of our children were sponsored.
I love these humble beginnings for they give us room to see God work. While it was a pleasure to see the children’s faces as they received shoes, books, feminine products, school supplies, and dental hygiene supplies, I was much more grateful for what it meant to each of them for us to visit their homes. Some had one parent living and others were being raised by grandmothers or aunts. These women welcomed us with open arms and bright smiles on their faces that we would come all the way to their home to meet the child they were responsible for.
I have always kept a journal and written many pages on mission trips. This has been very different. This is the first time I have written since being in Kenya. I have had so many rich experiences and valuable lessons that I have been too overwhelmed to write. These children are my world. They are my reason for being here. There are so many other things I can be doing but for these next five months, my sole purpose is to build relationships with each of our sponsored children and the Intreach Team. Each of them has a story that needs to be told and I want to tell it. This is not a mission trip; it is a continuation of life.