Sunday, October 9, 2011

A New Beginning in Africa

While in Africa, our missionary group visited with several families in nearby villages. I was impressed with how neat and clean their simple, mud hut homes were. The people were very gracious, too; most insisted that we sit down and visit. I couldn’t help but wonder what they would think if they caught a glimpse of our American homes. Even the smallest, barest American home would be looked upon as a mansion to them. And what would the women, especially, think of our indoor plumbing? Absolute heaven, I’m sure.

Most homes had bare walls– there were no family pictures to speak of. One hut had an old calendar left up, obviously for the beautiful scenery. It was heartwarming to see a picture of Jesus on the wall in a few homes; and equally heartwarming to learn that many of the people we visited knew the Lord. But, as time went on during our stay in Kenya, it became painfully obvious that a lot of the people did not fully grasp Christianity. Many who claimed to be Christian (including pastors, police, and government officials), were heavily involved in corruption.

We were to experience that corruption firsthand. Our hopes of meeting and spending time with our sponsored children were dashed when we were told there was a court order against us to stay off the property. In the months prior to our arrival, the Kenyan pastor who was appointed to direct the school and orphanage we sponsored in Magunga, had been caught by our American board members embezzling funds and abusing the children. Because of his wealth, when our teams arrived he was able to pay off many in the community, including government officials, convincing them to ignore the proceedings against him, and to also stop us from being at the center.

The people of the village begged us to stay longer to help them fight “the system”. In many ways we were looked upon as their heroes, their hope; they did not want us to leave. They were afraid of the control that this one man had, and rightfully so. But, as guests in their country, there was only so much we could do. We prayed with them and encouraged them to be strong, to stand together and (peacefully) fight the corruption. We explained that we had to get back to America in a few days; although one American missionary did stay. Still, we were all disappointed and saddened for the oppression of these people.

Then, just a day or two before we were to leave, a breakthrough came. Several landowners in the Nyasoti area who had originally donated land for the children’s center were once again offering to do the same. But this time, our American director told them the school would be comprised of a board of directors from Nyasoti; never again would one man be allowed so much control.

Lessons had been learned all the way around. And amazingly, God has blessed the work of the labor of the hands in Nyasoti already. In the few short weeks since we were there, a temporary new school has already been built and approximately 200 children have signed up to attend.
And the name of this new school, which will offer protection, education, food and shelter to many precious children who are orphaned or whose families cannot afford public education, is appropriately named, New Beginnings.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

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