John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
More than half of Nairobi's population lives in the slums. Many of these are homeless, often children, orphaned when their parents succumbed to AIDS. Among these hopeless people however, there are those who are light-bearers, whose motto is: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV) These know where their misery, and the misery of all the other slum dwellers, comes from! They also know Who can bring life "to the full" to these desperate people.
These are the ones who follow the Apostle Paul's advice: "So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!" (Eph 5:15-16 The Message).
They are the light in Kenya, carrying the only hope for these desperate people: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matt 5:14 NIV) They are not afraid to step by mistake into the sewer that runs through the middle of the slums. They are not afraid to be chewed-out for bringing a message of hope. They are not repulsed by the extremely poor living conditions of these people who live on less than 2$ a day. They are not shocked by the disease that affects so many of these people. They are not worried that they might catch something that can be detrimental to their own health. All they care is bringing hope to the desperate.
About 30 churches have been planted in those slums. The conditions are far from ideal, but at least they have wooden benches-though not the most sturdy kind-where people can sit. And they have 4 walls to shelter them from the rain and sun, and to minimize street noise.
One church among these has begun to build a new building that will seat 5,000. Every seat of their current building is taken during worship, while many stand on the sidelines, as close to the wall as possible, in order to have at least some support for their poor back and legs. These people are not only hungry for God, but He is also their only hope!
Everything they have they consider to be a gift from God. Although clean water is a luxury and can hardly be obtained on a daily basis, when they receive a sip of it, they praise the Lord!
None of the ones who attend church can remain silent in the streets. They boldly declare that God is good and they freely share the Good News with anyone who pays attention to the gospel of hope. Nothing can stop them! Despite their poor living conditions, they cannot suppress the urgency that they have to share with their neighbors the message of the Good News, the One who is living in them, the One who makes them joyful. Their passion is for God!
Are we westerners as thankful for the water that is freely flowing in our country? Do we realize the blessings bestowed on us for the daily food we receive? For the sturdy shelter we have? For the freedom of worship?
Why are many of our churches so empty? Why are so many of us walking with long faces all the time? Why have we become experts in complaining, in grumbling, in worrying?
And why are we so afraid to share the One who lives in us, the One who is the sole hope to all of humanity? Does He really live in us or have we replaced Him with the worries and attractions of this world? Is it possible that we have lost our smile because we have lost our bearing on our way to heaven? Is it possible that we have become estranged with the One who gives us boldness?
"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." (Acts 4:31 NIV)
Dear people of Kenya, thank you for teaching us to be thankful and to smile at all times! No matter what our circumstances, God is indeed with us!
"Be careful for the sewer you are heading for!"
Dear Lord, we pray that our focus would be to bring hope in this world. Help our eyes always be open to how we can help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.