Monday, August 22, 2016

Why It's Worth It

Last month I was asked to write an article for the upcoming issue of The Call (a WGM publication) about the question, "Why is it worth it?"  I'd been piecing the article together in my mind for awhile but didn't get a chance to sit down and write it until today, the due date.  There's nothing like last-minute motivation!  It's just a short piece, but I wanted to share it here.  These have definitely been thoughts/issues we've been reflecting on regularly since arriving in Kenya nearly five months ago.

Why It's Worth It

            We’d been in Kenya just over two months when I uttered the words, “I want to go home.”  They were spoken not with a murmur or sigh, but with an emphatic sob.  After more than a decade of preparing for the mission field, it was jarring to feel such negative emotions after finally getting here.  But the transition to living overseas was harder than we expected.  The daily grind of learning the culture and adjusting to ministry and helping our three young boys adapt had taken its toll.
            The straw that broke the camel’s back was a missing dump truck – a missing toy dump truck.  Our son’s cherished toy was a small and seemingly insignificant thing, yet its disappearance tipped the scales and I found myself sobbing for the comfort of home.  It had “walked off” with another kid, meaning that a Kenyan playing in the sandbox with Kai had either mistakenly lost it or outright absconded with it, both of which were known to happen.  When Kai asked where his dump truck was, and when a thorough search produced no results, and when reality hit that I couldn’t run to Target and replace the construction machine that someone else lost, I broke down.  It was simply too much to handle.  Processing the value of material things, plus wrestling with the socially acceptable activity of walking off with someone else’s stuff, plus helping a 2-year old cope with the loss of a beloved toy, plus weighing the merits of justice vs honor/shame when face-to-face with the culprit…it was all too much to handle that day and I just wanted to go home.
            But rather than give up and actually go home, we are allowing God to use this time of transition and stress to refine us and strengthen us for the years ahead.  When Eli struggles with the death of yet another patient, God reminds him that He is faithful even in the midst of death.  When I realize I’ve made yet another cultural mistake, God reminds me that He is sovereign and can do His work despite my faux pas.  When our kids cling to timidity in this new culture, God reminds us that He is wise and has brought them here to grow in confidence.
            Living and ministering overseas is not easy, and it’s clearly not the easiest way to raise our children either.  But it’s the best thing we could be doing because it is God’s will for us.  Being in the center of God’s will is worth every stress, every lost dump truck, and every desire to go home.  He is worth it all, now and forever.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Because There's Hope in Jesus

A young man was brought into the hospital by his family.  They had found him after an attempted suicide by drinking pesticides, a common form of suicide here due to its accessibility and affordability.  The man was apparently involved in a dysfunctional relationship, which the family disapproved of, and seeing no way out of his predicament he therefore decided the best solution was to end his life.  That was the story of this despondent young man's story when Eli first met him in the ER at the hospital.  Thankfully, his attempted suicide did not succeed.  And thankfully, his story was about to take an incredible turn.

After resuming consciousness, it was obvious this man held little hope for whatever lay ahead.  His face was drawn, his posture limp, his eyes weary.  He had hoped to escape his life, not return to it.  Being rescued from death, it seemed, was not good news.  Eli was concerned for this patient, wondering if he'd be discharged only to make another attempt to destroy his own life.

But later that day the young man was visited by a hospital chaplain, a kind Kenyan man committed to nurturing the spiritual needs of patients.  That chaplain boldly but lovingly shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News, and it was a turning point for this young man.  What he heard was a story of love and grace and hope that could be infused into his own story and alter it for the better forevermore.  The man decided to believe in the saving grace of Jesus, and the change was instantaneous.  Eli showed up the next day and could scarcely believe it was the same man he'd seen the day before.  It was obvious this man held great hope for whatever lay ahead.  His face was glowing, his posture confident, his eyes joyful.  He had hoped to escape his life, but was now thankful he'd failed the venture.  Being rescued from death, it seemed, was suddenly good news.  Being rescued from Death was even greater news!  The young man's life was outwardly transformed because of the inward transformation done through the grace of Jesus Christ.

The man was eventually discharged and went home to a life with circumstances that looked much like they had before, but he went home with the ability to perceive those circumstances differently if not change those circumstances altogether.  Because when Jesus enters a life there is hope.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace 
as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope 
by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 15:13


A girl, maybe 13 or 14 years old, was brought into the Maternal and Child Health clinic.  She wasn't performing well in school, her mother said, and despite moving her around from school to school her academics weren't improving.  They came to Tenwek to see if anything could be done to help her.

The staff at MCH called Eli to assess the girl.  Probable causes for her poor performance ran through his head as he walked toward the building.  Did she need IQ testing?  Was her vision okay?  As Eli met with the girl and her mother, however, it quickly became apparent that her issues were not clinical/physical, but social and emotional.  She was a social outcast at school and was being bullied and was struggling with low self-esteem.  No wonder her grades were suffering.  But what was to be done?  A prescription or procedure wouldn't solve her problems.

A Clinical Officer (the equivalent of a Nurse Practitioner) volunteered to do a more thorough counseling session the next day, and during that time she shared the Gospel with the girl, who chose to accept it.  The girl went home, not with a promise that her school situation would automatically improve but with a promise that Jesus would walk with her every step of the way.  She now has Someone to turn to when other kids at school shun her.  She now has Someone to believe in who holds her future in the palm of His hand.  She now has Someone to cling to for hope.  Because when Jesus enters a life there is hope.

"This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 
(and for this we labor and strive), 
that we have put our hope in the living God
who is the Savior of all men, 
and especially of those who believe."

1 Timothy 4:9-10


It is a blessing and honor to be part of something that helps turn stories of despair into stories of hope. It's a true joy to know that the ministry of Tenwek Hospital, the ministry we are presently fully invested in, is sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with the people who come here seeking help.  May His name be made known among the nations, including the nation of Kenya, and may He be continually glorified through the small role we play in making Him known.