Just before Christmas Bronwyn and I were privileged enough to spend some time in Mathare a part of Nairobi that holds one of the oldest slums in all of Africa. It’s home to half a million people many of whom are struggling everyday to survive. I visited with a few young men that we are discipling and seeing the ministry they themselves started to help make a difference in the impoverished neighborhood. The first thing we did was home visits, checking on single mothers and others who seemed so happy to have outsiders hear their story. We spoke to a woman and when we asked what needs we could help meet she said she could not read her bible because she broke her reading glasses, another young lady we meet is hoping to start school and said she had dreams of being a journalist but didn’t have anything to write on or with. These are needs that are easily met but without opportunities to share them with someone who can help, they are forced to go without.
After our home visits, we went to a local store and bought food and hygiene supplies for the amazing homes we went to and left them with the young men to deliver. Then it was time for us to go to an upper room in an apartment that served as a meeting place for ministry. We had purchased drinks and cookies, set out some handmade benches and prepared for what we thought would be about 30-40 young men. We started a bit late which was pretty much right on time by Kenyan standards but as the meeting progressed the room began to fill more and more. Someone would be sharing a word (in Kenya that means something God has laid on your heart) or testimony and more people would stick their heads in which would be followed my “Karibu” which is Swahili for “welcome”. This happened until there were 73 people jammed in a room that really should have been made for half that, but it was amazing. After a time, it was my turn to share. This was the one-year anniversary of this group forming and I wanted to give them a word they would hopefully carry with them for another year. I was a little concerned because I was speaking English and although most of them knew English, I do tend to talk fast, especially when I get excited. Talking about Jesus to a room full of young men eager to hear the gospel is just about the most exciting thing in the world. So, I asked them that if I started talking too fast to just hold up their hands and say “Pole, Pole” which means slowly, and I would slow down.
I may do an entire blog post on my lesson from the day, but I left them with one word. FOCUS and encouraged them to focus hard on Jesus. They were an amazing and receptive group and it was truly an honor to spend that time with them. I do ask that you pray for Mathare and the people we met and especially for the amazing young men serving that community so beautifully and so well.