For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?” Matt. 16:26
Gilbert’s mom had never heard about the woman at the well. Like that woman, her life was broken by failed marriages, she had resorted to a relationship considered immoral, and was branded an outcast by religious law and society. Gilbert guided
us to his new home in a notoriously wretched place, and his mom was home. I’d never met her before, as in every previous visit, she was working in the local bar. Gilbert and his brothers had run the house together, and they were tight. Now the mom had moved in with a new man, and Gilberts’ brothers had been taken away by their father to live with him. Gilbert, thin and quiet, was obviously devastated. When Ruth, our social worker, asked the young mom about the man, she replied flippantly, “He’s just a friend, he’s not my husband.” Gilbert was sent outside, and my Kenyan team members’ good attempts at moral counseling weren’t getting through.
I quietly said to her, “I know who wants to be your husband.” Now she was listening.
She heard about the woman in John 4, her failures and rejection, and her surprise meeting with a man Who, though He knew everything she ever did, did not reject or condemn her. In fact, He revealed Himself as the Messiah, the One who wanted to wipe away all the shame and share His life with her, to be her Husband. Gilbert’s mom visibly softened; she wanted to know this One Who truly loved her. I’ll never forget the change in her that day, as she encountered Jesus, the only One Who could truly mend her broken life, and would never, ever, leave her.
Outside, Bob was sharing about that same Savior to a crowd that had gathered. Men, women, and children responded enthusiastically, and as we finally climbed back into the taxi, people literally begged us, crying, “Please bring a church here! We want to change!”
Similar scenes were repeated as our team travelled through the slums that day sharing this good news: real hunger, and such grateful, loving response, from the overlooked and outcast of all ages. It was dark as we headed home, exhausted but deeply joyful. Bob and I were quiet, both overwhelmed by God’s love and determined commitment to reach these people, in this place so forsaken by man, but never by Him.
We can’t start a church in Falkland, and we can’t fix Gilbert’s family; but we can share the message of the One who came to fix broken hearts and lives, and has the power to do it. That’s what Kenya Trip 2018 was all about, a renewal of the preaching of the gospel and discipleship as AC’s primary focus. We will continue to give practical help because of Christ’s love, but it is true spiritual change in hearts, minds, and motives that bears lasting fruit. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate Empowerment Program, it is the one venture that is truly sustainable when cultures, governments, and funding resources change. If not at the forefront, programs to promote medical, educational and economic betterment have limited impact, and can even enable people to remain in their unhealthy mindsets despite outward change. The grace of God empowers true change.
How excited we were to find that our partnering church, under Pastors Peter Siakama and Apollo Juma, was already moving in the same direction! Together, we faced the prospect of changes in ourselves and all of our “old wineskins”, in order to allow God’s “new wine” to flow as He would desire. The effect was more clarity, unity, and opportunities for outreach than we have ever experienced in our 14 years of working together.
In the following pages, we will attempt to show what that change looks like, so far, in each program that Africa Connect - through donors and prayer partners like you - supports in Kenya. Thank you for your part in it all!