Every time I hear Hillsong’s “Oceans” I automatically get goosebumps and I sing every word as a prayer. This past Sunday was no different at church.
Singing it took me back to Africa. As I sang I pictured all those sweet faces of the friends we were so blessed to meet. Tears filled my eyes as I sang the lines “Sprit lead me where my trust is without borders” “take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and Faith will be made stronger”. Because God did just that. He took me out of my comfort zone and he showed me what it looked like to worship him in another country. Even when I was sick towards the end. We were blessed in the ways they opened their hearts and shared their testimonies. They love my Jesus just like I do. We were half way around the world and they knew my Jesus. Because my Jesus is so much greater than all their problems and they rely on Him because they live day to day.
It took me back to my favorite moment in Africa. The retreat was almost ending and we had a very very very venerable three day retreat with the high school and college kids. We had small groups and I don’t think I had ever had such venerable conversations in my life than in those moments. But as the three days played out many of the students gave their lives to Christ. But it was that last song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. If you have a second to look it up on Youtube do it and just imagine the power that was in this hot, humid, dim, and dirty building while I watched almost half of the 160 students go to the front of room to pray and ask for forgiveness, and most importantly accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Because they don’t live lives like we do here they struggle with poverty, relationships, sex, polygamy, porn, prostitution, suicide, death, rape. It’s all so real and not one of those students would have told you they don’t struggle with anything on that list. I hardly ever met anyone who still had both a mother and father, or even both. I met hurt hearts that still love Jesus and worship His goodness.
-Since returning home I’ve read about girls being sold for $12 or the muslim woman to married a Christian man and is going to be put to death once she delivers her baby. Do we really live our Faith having to be worried about who we marry for the fear of death? Or for the fear that your child will be taken out of an education program to be sold to men and there is no way as a parent to get them back? We were scanned at every market we went into for the fear of a threat terrorist attack shortly before we got there. More and more has came to my attention since being home. Or maybe it’s just because I saw the realness and it’s on my radar when I hear the word Africa.-
But in that moment at the retreat as that song began I watched all those students walk up and just melt into the floor. As all of the staff went up and prayed with them nothing but tears ran down my face as I prayed with the ones surrounding me as I sat on the floor holding these grown girls crying in my arms with me. Praying with them. I watched so many of them accept Christ, we prayed with them, and we prayed for many of their struggles that God would let them forget any image they had ever seen, the ways they used their bodies for money, or the struggles that they were facing. After that many of the students stayed and prayed for forgiveness and I loved getting to pray over one of the girls out of my small group.
Jesus is powerful in Kenya, but so is the devil. These kids have been through so many things that I will never have to deal with. I couldn’t relate to them in any way. In that moment my heart broke as I sat there on the dirty floor with stones in my knees and my feet going numb with tears streaming down my face. But nothing can ever erase that memory of doing it all with my husband as he prayed over them. Going from student to student and that moment as I did the same and we made eye contact with teary eyes. “There is power in the name of Jesus – to break every chain” I prayed that this trip would change my heart, move me closer to my Jesus, and show me His power. I saw chains that were breaking as they renewed their lives.
So as I stood in church singing, I prayed for those students that their faith hasn’t been moved. That it’s only been moved by Jesus and that they have seen changes only God could have made in their lives. Since then one of the student Isaac has went back to the doctor after being treated for cancer. We just heard news that the tumor has shrunk but it is not still small enough to go ahead with surgery to remove it. Please pray for Isaac as he is scarred. They will begin another round of chemo soon along with radiation. The Ndoto staff have been taking care of him and flying him to Nairobi for treatments but they are slowly running out of options.
I know I may not be a Ndoto visitor that returns yearly for the retreats but I look forward to traveling over to Kenya again. These people stole my heart along with the feeling of how humble I was when I returned to so much more than I really need in this world. If I could take all my family and friends over just for an hour and tour Obunga (the slum of Kisumu) I’d do it in a heart beat. I enjoy telling all my stories of the trip, but no one will truly understand until they branch out of comfort and travel God’s big world. Remember to not always hear and read God’s word, but most importantly get out and do God’s word. It will change you just like it changed my heart. Never be afraid if God asks you to do it He will be there guiding you along the way, even if it’s missions here in the states or your own neighborhood – or even within your friends.
And I will be sure to bring along Zeth & Zaaaccck, too! (We loved hearing their english!)