The Kingdom in the Slums

10 02 2013

I received word that two of the pastors I had held a seminar with on Expanding the Kingdom of God had planted six churches in the slums of Nairobi. I quickly scheduled a trip to go and encourage the new believers and connect with the work there in a real and personal way.

Upon arriving I found that ONE of the pastors planted six churches and the other eleven.  I determined to visit and speak to each church.  As you might imagine life in the slums is startling to the Western mind.  No infrastructure, no jobs little hope.  There are also few churches and little outreach.  At least the two that I visited.

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Most miss at least a day of meals a week and eat a limited diet of ugali and some vegetables.  Ugali is a corn mush made from boiled crushed corn with no seasoning and not much flavour.  But it is filling and that matters when you are hungry. Each house church I visited was actually a 15×10 room with a couch some chairs separated from the sleeping part of the house by bed sheets or sacks for privacy.  Some of the churches were just a few neighbors and others had over 30 members.  No windows, one door, a single light bulb, no running water or toilet facilities.  The streets are dirt and stone with sewage running down the streets.  This is where the children play.  The few schools are packed with children eager to learn.

I purposefully expressed my vision for the church there and asked about jobs and food.  It seemed that each church had one or two women with a vegetable stand or a couple sharing a sewing machine to provide income.  The others in the church walked the streets when someone would watch their children, in the richer neighborhoods and looked for work cleaning floors or doing laundry.  The men went out almost everyday in search of work as a casual laborer.  One man, in all the churches I visited had a regular job he worked at and got a regular check.  He loaded trucks.

Being an entrepreneur, I immediately began to scheme on sustainable solutions.  I asked the ones that could sew to show me their work places and explain their challenges.  One could sew most of the work but had to send parts of it out and pay others to do things like pleats due to her machine only did so much.  Another, was successful but due to the needs of her congregation she was drained to nothing helping others eat.  Another knew how to buy and sell used clothing but the lady she worked for had closed her business.

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My solution.  I asked if the sewing ladies would teach other ladies to sew if I agreed to purchase the newer machines to expand existing business models and do additional stitching eliminating the need to sub out work. Everyone like the idea.  I also introduced a new product of sewing bags using flour sacks that was quite popular in Arusha with tourist interested in getting a great African souvenir  while contributing to a worthy cause.  Finally, I agreed to fund the initial inventory for a used clothing shop if the lady with the skill set would agree to train and provide purchasing expertise to other women in a distant slum.  The wheels are turning on sustainable incomes for these ladies while they connect and serve one another.

Each lady understands that none of these programs are for their personal enrichment but rather to benefit the entire body of Christ.  The spirit of sharing and helping is entrenched in the poor in Africa and this element was easily understood and accepted.  We encouraged the believers and passed out bibles and literature.  I am going back in one month to begin the investment and follow up on the training.  New believers came to Christ on the visit and we are baptizing when I return, hopefully in a rented swimming pool.

God is doing great things.  In the short term we bought 40 kilos of rice and placed it in and elders home.  No one knows we are doing this and his job is to personally stay on top of needs and make sure no one is going without food.  There are many house churches all with many children.  I am honored and pleased with what is happening in these slums.

I told them all that Christians back in America loved them and were their brothers and sisters.  I took pictures of every church member present.  Most of the men were out looking for work.  But I want you to see the people and the environment and consider reaching out to serve them.  They are the least of these.  They are those that Jesus proclaimed, that when we serve them we are serving Him.  Will you feed Jesus?  Clothe Him, and give Him something to drink?  We are promised that on Judgement Day, that there will be a judgement for us to determine how we served Him.  Him, in the disguise of the Least Of These.  Come let us adore Him!  Email me at midtownglenn@gmail.com and asked me how.  Or go to http://kingdomdriven.org/glenn-roseberry and make a tax deductible donation through Paypal or your credit or debit card.  Image

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