My Week in Nairobi

17 04 2013

As many of you know I went to Nairobi this past week with a couple of issues in mind.  One to check on a new brother who was formerly a Muslim and had been attacked  by radicals.  We will call him Caleb.  Caleb had hospital bills and perhaps a home that had now been compromised to the radical Muslims.  Hospital bills and a new residence were financial issues to be dealt with.  The other reason I went was to purchase the Overlock sewing machines for my sisters in the house churches in Mathere and Kayole.  I am so appreciative of all my brothers and sisters that have contributed and made these efforts possible.

I began in East Leigh where many of the persecuted live.  As always we have to be flexible.  This is the underground church.  We stagger our times to meet and choose our meeting places carefully.  My mere presence compromises some of their secrecy.  Trust me there are few white people that go here.  I have NEVER seen another one on my visits.  This is where the bombings occurred around Christmas.  We recently had a sister murdered here by a machete attack.  My short term mission group coming in a couple of months will not be  coming here.

We ride the crowded Matatu mini bus to East Leigh.  We arrive at a brothers home and he is not there.  We find he has headed to the meeting place ahead of schedule.  This is not a bad idea.  We meet up and enter the restaurant.   The food is excellent here and it is one of two safe restaurants we go to when I come.  For 10 bucks we have two huge platters of food for four, that could have fed eight.  Four sodas and six cups of coffee while we talk.  I am surprised the Caleb speaks some English.  He is from Ethiopia.  His wounds are looking good but he is sore in the ribs and his broken nose is giving him problems.  My dad had his broken many times and I tell him that it will get better but straightening it is just as bad as getting it broke.  He seems to decide to leave the now crooked nose as it is.

Another brother, Kevin, updates me on his work with the glue boys.  These are small young boys that spend their days begging, stealing and sniffing glue.  I have had Kevin simply loving them and feeding them and telling them of Jesus.  They go to the Catholic church to eat all the time.  They are told of Jesus, but to them He is irrelevant.  They sleep in alleys, move around a lot and all carry knives.  It takes him days before they trust him with a name we think is real.  More days till he knows where they really live and a bit about life.  The police round them up regularly to find out about crimes in the area.  The glue people are responsible for most snatch and run crimes.  They will rat on each other for a few hundred schillings.  They will stab someone for a thousand schillings.  It is said they will kill someone for a thousand schillings.  How much is that?  Around  eight dollars and thirty cents.

Keven is also from Ethiopia and like Caleb has little education and cannot find meaningful work since Kenyans don’t really care for refugees and would rather hire someone from their tribe or at least a real Kenyan.  We talk about buying a wheel barrow and buying some pineapples and bananas and selling them on the street. A good business and if you add some bottled water you can make a decent living.   We think we can do this for about 6000 schillings.  We decide to investigate.  For now the brothers will receive rent from us for two rooms.  About 60 dollars.  They will let some others live there with them and sometimes have as many as eleven in one room.  Kevin has nine living with him now.  He charges them all a bit to stay and then can buy food.  They cook right in their rooms.  They open the door to let the smoke out as there are no windows.  They are so thankful.  They smile and tell me of the glue boys, thank me profusely for the rent money and I give them some to buy more rice for the kids.  They tell me that they are feeding them about three times a week and still have five hundred schillings left over from last month.  I tell them to keep it.  We go to Kevin’s room and talk of making disciples, loving like Jesus loved and laying down our lives for these glue boys.  No one want to work with them.  They stink, they lie, they steal and they are just little boys.  They are just the least of these.  They all carry knives and they use them.  Kevin is learning how to share with them.  I can’t be directly involved and I truly regret it.  A musungu ( white person)  is viewed as nothing but a silly, stupid rich person to be fed a line and get some money.  My presence in this instance is problematic.  I watch from afar and disciple Kevin for a while.  His true mentor is a former Imam that is my contact.  We pray and I head back home.

Next it is the slums.  On my last visit I visited called all the house church leaders together and meet for three days.  Day one was teaching on the Kingdom of God.  Day two on the teachings of Jesus and Luke 10 evangelism.  We were to go out and witness the next day but it was during national elections and there were many murders in Mathere where we were going and I got over ruled by the pastors.  So we spent the day talking about challenges in the house churches.  As you might imagine they are legion.  Of course the main one is financial.  Eight to ten people living in a 10×10 room.  The women make a living watching each others children and taking turns walking the rich neighborhoods looking for work cleaning floors or washing dishes.  The men look for jobs as laborers. Over 50% of Nairobi lives in the slums.  At least that is what I am told.   About 20% of my house church leaders also run a small business.  Sewing, selling vegetables and making a flour taco type of food called a chipati.  Some are very good at it but spend all their profits feeding their house church members.  Sharing and sacrificial giving is the African way.  To accumulate money for yourself while your friends, neighbors and family struggle is not normal.  The ones that live that way quickly exit the community.  They move off where they don’t have to be around family members that are in constant need.  The more Westernized they get the quicker they move off.

I pledged on my last visit to write about the needs there and see if the brothers and sisters in America would join them in this service and buy additional sewing machines and fund vegetable stalls and buy more supplies to expand their fledgling businesses.  Not to prosper these business people.  But rather, we identified those people sharing at the greatest level of sacrifice and determined to help them.  In returned they agreed to begin to train the others on their skills.  Sewing, buying and selling used clothing and other skill sets we could identify.  This trip was the time for me to fulfill the commitment.  Thanks to your generous giving I am purchasing four sewing machines.  Your are funding a used clothing business, purchasing 80 kilos of rice for the hungry in our churches and purchasing supplies like needles, cloth and thread.  These are not loans.  These are investments into the lives of people that are sacrificially giving to our brothers and sisters.  I cannot loan to someone that is giving all they have for others.  With your help, we join in their giving.  It’s that simple.

One last note.  There is a business model in Tanzania where women with Aids are making handbags out of flour sacks and coffee bags.  They are then sold in the shops that cater to tourist.   We are going to do the same, in Kenya.  Soon we will have pictures of the bags and purses.  I wondered if you would be interested in buying them or selling them in your church or to your friends for gifts.  Many of you give Christmas gifts.  These would be perfect.  The sewing machine for this ministry model is being delivered next week.  We hope to begin sewing right away.  Let me know if you would be interested.

Thank you all for allowing me to serve these people.  I am not the one giving.  I am not the one sacrificing.  In fact, I am having all the fun.  You and your generosity are making a difference.  You have heard me say this before and if you keep reading my post you will keep hearing it.  I am you. WE are serving the least of these.  My prayer is that if someone ask you what you are doing for the Kingdom you will say with complete confidence that you are feeding the poor.  You are visiting the sick and you are serving the least of these.  You tell them you have sent and are supporting a brother named Glenn.  He is your agent for the Kingdom in Africa.   You are feeding orphans, because many of my house churches are feeding them.  And you are providing the rice.  You are clothing children, blessing widows and spreading the Gospel.  You are reaching out to the unloved glue boys.  The hopeless ones that if we can’t reach in 6-10 months will have ruined their precious minds on this glue.  I hope that your giving here inspires you to do the same in your neighborhood.  Trust me the poor are just a few miles away.  The lonely and the needy.

God bless you my brothers and sisters in Christ.  And thank you for the privilege of being here to serve the Kingdom.  For our King, and for your His faithful Church.  Please pray for us.




One response

17 04 2013

It’s so encouraging to hear of all the great things God is doing through you. The bags & purses idea sounds great and I can’t wait to see pictures. My husband is looking forward to visiting you in June. We pray for you regularly and are so encouraged by your faith.

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