Violence. Death. Injustice.

Child protection is a key strand of our work. We identify children at risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and suffering, and we try to do whatever it takes to protect them. We work to ensure the children we work with grow up in a safe, supportive family environment. Unfortunately, there are so many children all around the world that are still without that hope.

We have set up a programme within The KCP, whereby our Social Care Team strive to help the families and the children within their communities; preventing where possible, children from being taken into institutes but cared for and supported from home.

The programme involves our team of life changers working hand in hand with the individual families to see transformation. The help provided is often practical and can involve our team rolling up their sleeves and showing the families how to clear up and make their homes a place that is liveable and sanitary. Our team identifies the areas for improvement and change within each home and they work with the family to show achievable goals. Our team helps provide the families with routine. They start with teaching the guardians how to get their children up and fed in the morning, how to prepare meals and how to put children to bed. Many families have never been educated on the basic needs of family life, and so it is important for our Social Workers to teach day-to-day skills like cooking, hygiene and daily routines.

The objective is always helping families learn to do things themselves, and our team is clear on the need to not slip into doing things for families. As families achieve a milestone and the programme goes on, our team encourages and praises the family to build up their self-esteem and build confidence and unity.

No matter how much we do to ensure that each family has a better quality of life and however much we have done to protect the children from any form of suffering, sometimes it is clear that your help is just not enough.

Together, with our amazing team, we go to great lengths to try to understand the real circumstances of which each family face day to day. We gather as much information about each family, we observe and we assess. A key component of effective family intervention is therefore looking at the family from inside out rather than outside in.

Being faced day in - day out with family dysfunction, violence, poor parenting and neglect is intellectually, physically and emotionally demanding. This week we have been asking a question that we regularly don’t allow our minds to wander to, ‘how did things end up this way?’ One of the children we have been working with over the past 16 months has passed away this week. She was only 15 years old. Three words that regularly keep circling my head this week... Violence. Death. Injustice. Why is this world full of these three words?

Ultimately, there was nothing we could do to prevent or stop this child from dying, yet we know that if this child was born in the UK, she would still be alive. The circumstances concerning her death are a harsh reminder that there are some things we simply cannot change and there are certainly things we will never understand. I am not afraid to raise my voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice. I don’t want to take the side of the oppressor by being neutral in situations of injustice. This week, I feel powerless. I feel like we have seen huge injustice in this family.

I’m proud of our team at The Kenyan Children's Project and for all they do to see lives changed for the better. I’m inspired by the people we do life with, as they relentlessly care and love the individuals around us. This week we had a challenge that we are determined will not stop us. As our team of life changers spend time with this child’s mourning family this week, we are standing tall once more. We are more eager to see vulnerable lives here have equal rights. We refuse to give up but we feel we have to be real with our emotions and the hardships we face here. Please stand with us in prayer and partner with us as we seek to do anything we can to change and hope restored in as many vulnerable children, one life at a time.

TOUGH BONDS, LOVE IN ACTION & OUR HEART CRIES

*Due to child protection circumstances, we do not disclose any children's names on social network posts*

We thank God for the continued opportunity to serve the kids and the staff daily here at The Kenyan Children’s Project’s children’s home in Kenya. We continue to give our all into raising up a team on the ground out here that are then giving their all, into creating brighter futures for the severely vulnerable in this region, the marginalised and, those in need of justice that have no voice. Our team is dedicated and they want to ensure lives are saved, literally as well as spiritually. By working together with our team, we hope to reflect Gods love as each of us are made in His image. We hope to practically help those in need by supporting wisely by giving long term solutions, even when a situation is needing an immediate solution.

We are often able to provide comfort to the children who frequently go through times of grieving and unrest around us. We have recently been working with families and children struggling with issues, such as; alcoholism, witchcraft, drug abuse, absolute poverty, polygamy, concubines, HIV/AIDs, substance abuse, sexual abuse, loneliness, bereavement, morbidity etc. Understandably, we are unable to write home explaining the ins and outs of all we do. It is also very difficult for us to find words to express our feelings, however I feel today I must try. This week, we have experienced heart break once more. Many times in missions, we speak of the difficulties with greater frequency than the good things. Perhaps you’ve heard from us friends that are living oversees lots about racism, culture shock or the loneliness we often find ourselves in. Today, although I am reflecting on the trauma and pain, I want to focus and express how very proud we are of our team out here. Our growing team of life changers (our Social Care Team) were so loving and compassionate as they courageously walk as ambassadors, projecting the love of Christ to everyone with whom they came in contact. I know I am biased, however I see first-hand how they communicate and care for the children that are desperate for a hope. They just love so well. It is so easy, wherever you live and work, to see all that you do not like but sometimes we should take a moment to pause, and see the treasures of the people and place in which we work.

Here, we are surrounded by a land full of crime, corruption, death and broken family after broken family. We are regularly hearing about mob justice and it happens right outside our front doors. We’ve watched police steal from the weak right before our very own eyes and, we know too well of the abuse that is happening under the roofs of so many. But, this week as I stood gazing at our team in the local hospital, I saw real love. We sat around taking it in turns to distract Moses from the pain he was facing. Even sitting up in his hospital bed was uncomfortable, the pressure sores and the Tungaisis (sand-fleas) that had been eating away at many areas of his body; including his bottom, knees, elbows, head, feet, hands and shins; it was all too much for this severely malnourished 9 year old child. The neglect and mistreatment that he has faced over the years is indescribable and simply it is completely inhumane. Our team of life changers had no choice but to intervene in this little ones life this week.

Watching each of the team as they begin building a rapport with Moses was just one of those moments. You know, one of those moments you know that you will never ever forget. I am confident that our team will continue to whole heartedly love this child back to life. It is obvious that he may have died if the team had not of found him. Moses has been losing his mobility due to his current condition but we know that as a team we will fight for him to walk again, we will fight for him to live, we will fight for him to know what family means and he will be loved. The other details of his life are very sensitive and to protect him I will say no more. It is strange, Moses entered all our lives out of nowhere and suddenly, he means a lot to us all. I thank our Kenyan team for reminding us of what love really is. I know Moses will be seeing love in a while new way right now, if not seeing love for the very first time. I know we may not be able to fix all his problems, but I know that he won’t have to face them alone. Our social care team is love in action. Go team!

Our hearts are a little sore this week, yet our hearts are also very excited at the chance and privilege of bringing hope to this precious little child. I know that as a team we will be rejoicing together in the near future as we begin to see transformation and His Father God brings radical change to his life. Cases like Moses’s case, is why The Kenyan Children’s Project exists. If you feel lead to give towards his crisis fund, please contact us for more information. Please join us in prayer for this very small 15kg child, may he be healed, may he begin to trust us, know what love it and soon understand who his Heavenly Father and Saviour is.

We thank God for the work in which The Kenyan Children’s Project continues to support and do, even when it is not clear where the finances will come from. We are so thankful for His protection over us and Hunter in all that we do. We are so blessed to be volunteering alongside such a good team out here, and that we are really starting to see the fruit of investing into a few wonderful lives. Truly the hand of the Lord is with us, may we feel His presence more and more.

 

 

Story of the Week!

Meet A special little princess

*Due to child protection circumstances, we do not disclose any children's names on social network posts*

Cutie Pie is still very little, she only turned three years old this April. Jono and I first met her in December 2013 when following up on her situation with our other team members from The KCP. Earlier that year, Cutie Pie's three siblings were removed from their home in the local slum due to their guardian illegally selling drugs and alcohol to the locals. The guardian was also a serious drug and alcohol user and was unable to care for the children sufficiently. Due to Cutie Pie being a baby at the time, and the fact that she was still breastfeeding, it was previously decided that her transition out of the home needed to look slightly different and take longer than her older siblings transition.

After many regular visits to the slum to spend time with the guardian, we were able to slowly wean her off of breastfeeding, this was absolutely incredible to watch. Although it was difficult to witness at times, seeing this beautiful baby girl go from being drunk and lifeless (due to the toxic things she was consuming through the milk), to becoming a sober child with a lot of character, it was precious.

The local Children's Department spent time with the guardian and many techniques were put into action to try and help the guardian start a new life, however all attempts failed. One day, a group of us entered the slum with a pastor and several others for security purposes. We found the guardian in a bad way due to alcohol. Men were lying on her floor amongst what literally was rubble. They were also drunkards, unable to walk. Cutie pie lay sleeping on what looked like a tea towel behind another pile of rubble. This place really was no place for a child. It was amazing that the guardian was now feeding Cutie Pie fruit and giving her regular milk sachets. She was no longer breastfeeding. This was a real breakthrough! We spent some more time with the guardian, we prayed for her and she began praying with us and began crying out asking God for forgiveness. The pastor lead her through a salvations prayer and she asked Jesus into her life. Although we will never know what truly happened inside her at that moment, we knew God was present in that dark little liquor smelling home.

That day the guardian gave over her last little child. She handed her into the arms of the Sub-County Children's Officer and Cutie Pie was then reunited with her other siblings at The KCP.

It was a tough day. Tougher than most we have lived. I can't imagine what the guardian felt. I can't imagine what Cutie Pie felt. Since that day, we have seen this baby girl grow and grow. She has developed a special personality and has become full of life. We really don't know what would have happened if she was still living in the conditions she was. We do know however that God has given her another chance and a brighter future. We know that God has really provided this family with hope and love.

It is unfortunate that the guardian actually passed away last year and it seems that none of the Father's were ever really known, leaving the children as orphans.

We have now linked the four siblings up with an Uncle and they have been building connections and relationships with him and his family. We know there is a future for these kids and we know that God has amazing plans for each of them.

We Strong's have been so privileged to have been a part of their journey, love on them through their pain and see them be loved back to life again. We have been overwhelmed with the way they have also loved on us and given us joy. They are a family we will never forget, these are memories we will have forever and moments that we shall always treasure. Every hug has been precious! We cannot wait to see what God does in their lives, what paths they are taken on and the journey they will each walk.

Please pray for them as they build relationships with their wider family members, please pray that God will provide a way for them to eventually be reunited with their family. Please pray for Cutie Pie, who really is extremely cute, that she will grow to know her Heavenly Father and that she will know the love that surrounds her.

We are so thankful for the work that The KCP do and for each child's transformation that we have been able to witness and be a part of.

Check out the other work at The Kenyan Children's Project's website at: www.thekcp.org

 

Living our Lives as if Each Day is the Last!

How can we make each of our days count for Christ?

As followers of Christ, our passion should be living our days to the fullest and doing all we can to serve our God with everything that God has given us. I mean, some people say they don't have much, but God has given each of us talents, energy, and time. Paul likens our Christian journey to an athlete running a race in 1 Corinthians 9 v 24-27. You know, each of us have a calling to be steadfast and dedicated to the life God has called us to live. We must continue to press on and move forward and we must try and do this without wavering.  I want to be looked at by God to have serious motivation and to have a faith that doesn't fade or decrease. You know, we must set our eyes not only earthly things, but on the things above, for the promised prize awaiting us at the end that will last forever,

1 Corinthians 9 v 24 - 27 says, 'Do you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.'

What is more important to us in our lives? It is crucial to examine ourselves and determine how we should sculpt and model our days for His glory and His kingdom. The things of this world are passing, our time and talent poured into physical or material pursuits won't last, but a life lived for Christ will add up to eternal treasure. 1 Corinthians 3 v 12-14 says, 'If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, for the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.'

Living a life in a day sounds crazy but as a follower of Christ we must do our very best to use our days wisely. We should recognise no limits to what we can accomplish in a day for God, for we also do not know what the future holds and our days are limited.  The challenge is knowing that we have to put our God given assignment before our own assignments. So, let's ask ourselves the question, 'what is the limit of our dedication to Christ?' Once we ask ourselves that, we must then ask, 'How far are we capable of putting ourselves out there?' Are we ready to stand up for truth, proclaiming His name where it hasn't been heard or where it doesn't want to be heard? Are we making a step of faith and trusting God for our needs and safety?

Each morning we wake up, we wake to the dawn of another day. Each day we wake is another day of life that God has given us, we are here for a reason. We are all created and designed specifically to have the individual identities that we do. You are different from me and I am different from you? Why? Well, we are all here to take life seriously doing what God has called us to do. We have been created the way we have for a time such as this! If we were truly running a race like Paul said, then surely we wouldn't want to be the athletes lagging far behind the finish line, still miles away from our destination. Instead we ought to be determined athletes that press forward without stopping for anything! Following Christ is worthy of our time, our energy and existence. Let's run the race together, let's run it well!

 

Beautiful Creation

THE RONDO RETREAT CENTRE

I don’t think I will ever forget the first time we visited the Rondo Retreat Centre here in Kakamega Rainforest, Kenya. I had a remarkable experience of awe for the God of creation that is my Father. Never had I seen such extraordinary beauty like that of those rainforest colors and the delightful sounds that filled my ears, and it was all so close. I remember taking myself off to a quiet spot to just sit and admire. Another visit, we were blessed by some family at Christmas and were able to spend a night in one of their cabins and, as night fell, for as far as my eye could travel, millions of stars in the night sky, simultaneously I felt both a distance from God and a peacefulness from God.

I stood in awe once again, wondering how a God who took time to create such vastness, could care for little me. Amazingly, of all stories, the creation story affirms for us that God really is not only mindful of us but has created us in the likeness of God purposefully. And for what purpose? Well, we are created in the image of God to have function and purpose in our relationship with all of creation, including our relationship to each other and ultimately with our Daddy God.

We must recognise the beauty that God created among and within us so that we can live out our purpose together as the body of Christ.  When we are living purposefully, we fit together like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are indistinguishable and yet quite unique when they join together. Can you see your true beauty? Can you see where you fit into this world?

Today, we visited the Rondo again for the day, being our day off, we wanted to be surrounded by the beautiful creatures He created, and the trees, plants and vines that really are so stunning. Sometimes it is quite hard to see the beauty that essentially covers the earth when you live within such a corrupt and poverty stricken land. However, as we sat within the grounds of the gardens, we were once again surrounded by a vast amount of birds. The birds were all so unique, their calls and songs were also so distinctive, yet they each had similarities as they glided and created flight patterns around us. The colors were vibrant and the designs on their feathers were all so pretty. We then noticed the spectacular show of butterflies that seemed to be putting on a beautiful performance in front of us. Soon after, the Colobus monkeys arrived and also put on a fascinating display.

I sat and was reminded of all us human beings, all so different yet actually so alike and so parallel. When you are looked at individually by our Father God He sees someone so very special, someone specifically created in a way that no other person can imitate. He molded you the way you are to be unlike any other. But, when He looks at us altogether He looks at us all as something incredibly precious and exquisite. He sees His children.

I thank God for each of you, for your purposefulness together as the fuller representation and image of our living and loving Father God!

Building Community

1 Thessalonians 5:1, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build up each other.’

Lately, Jono and I have been wondering and discussing what it means to really be ‘community’. We have been wondering how we can build up and maintain a sense of community within the places we go to, like the village of Shivakala, where we go to meet with widows.

Community is something we all want. Isn’t it? Well we having been asking ourselves some questions, questions like, 'what is the ‘glue’ that holds the village together?' We even asked a group 78 widows, 'Is there really any 'glue' that holds the people in this village together? Or, is the glue missing?'

No matter how we are differently made as individuals, whether we are an introvert, extrovert, whether we are social or unsocial, there is something in us that makes our soul long for meaningful friendships with those around us. Something is in all of us all that knows the importance of building community; through serving one another, seeking peace and unity with one another and, there is something so vital in the power of encouraging and strengthening the links we have holding us all together.

Maybe we just need to find out what glue is the stickiest and re-apply the glue?

You see, we long to know others and be known by them. Don't we? We all treasure relationships that allow us to truly be ourselves. It is possible that some of us have never found this sort of community before and, others may have been deeply wounded by relationships. The thing is, the desire that all of us still long for deep inside is genuine relationships and real community.

How did we get this way? Why do we crave for these things? The Bible answers that question by explaining that we are created in the image of God and God created us for community. More importantly why is it so difficult to be a part of community?

1 Thessalonians 5:1, we see two things; that encouragement and building one another up is not something that comes naturally, Paul had to instruct the people to do it. Also we see that encouragement is not something that is unnecessary or unimportant. But why is encouragement important?  Why is it worth us all investing our time and effort into community?

Created for Community – In the Bible, it talks about the Trinity. The Trinity means that God himself is in community. More accurately, God is community, He is One God but three persons. Before any human being existed, there was God, dwelling in perfect, loving harmony in his threefold being.

God says in Genesis 1:26, ‘Let us make man in our image.’ Human beings are made in the image of God, to reflect His likeness. That is why our longing for community seems so deep.

So if deep community is something that we all want, if it is a part of being made in God’s image, then what makes it so hard to be a part of? What keeps us from achieving the type of meaningful relationships that God has created us for?

The Fall: Broken Community – If you think for a second about the nature of your relationships, you may quickly see something else, something a little darker. It is the tendency to use people to meet your own needs first. It is not hard to see how often we are self-focused, pursuing our own needs and interest and protecting ourselves from people and relationships that demand too much. For example, think of the times that you have intentionally avoided someone who bothers you. Or the times you’ve said what people want to hear in order to avoid offending them. Or the times you’ve stopped pursuing certain friends because they were no longer of use to you. Or even the times you have clung to unhealthy or bad relationships to avoid the feeling of being alone.

Our inherent selfishness is evidence of what the Bible calls ‘sin.’ When we hear the word sin, we tend to think of bad behaviour. But sin can be deeper that external actions. The Bible often talks about the term ‘unbelief’. In other words, rather than believing what is true, we believe lies, which obviously then leads to bad behaviour and negative emotions. Unbelief was at the root of the first sin. Eve, in Genesis, believed the serpent’s lies about God and his intentions towards them. Unbelief is failure to see and believe what is true about God, the world and ourselves. It is not taking God at His word, not believing his promises and not trusting his goodness.

And sin’s impact is not just that we don’t believe, it’s that we are unable to believe. Sin has turned everything upside down and it has warped our relationships with others. We need someone to deliver us from our unbelief and selfishness and restore our capacity for true, deep, lasting community.

Redeemed for Community - This is where the good news of the gospel meets us. The word gospel literally means ‘good news’ – a message, a proclamation, an announcement. Before there is good news, there is usually bad news. The bad news here, is that we are sinful people, we are broken. We are rebels against God. We are covered in lies and self-worship and we look to other things than God to give us provision, identity and significance. We can’t free ourselves, make God happy with us, or do enough good works to make up for all our sins. But God, rich in mercy, sent Jesus to earth as our substitute. Jesus took our place in his life as he obeyed God fully and worshipped Him, totally, things we have failed and continue to fail to do. He substituted himself for us in his death, as he paid the penalty we owed to God for our sin and unbelief. If we humble ourselves, acknowledge of need and turn to him, God and Holy Spirit will forgive us and allow us to be freed from our sin because of what Jesus did on this earth for us. The Bible calls this redemption, a word that means to be ‘delivered, ransomed and set free.’

What does Jesus redeem from us? Well he redeems sin and all its effects. A life that images God and reflects His goodness to the world. He will restore our capacity and ability for community. Not for a community of people that look and act just like us, but a community that is made up of every tribe and tongue and nation on earth (Revelation 7:9). God created us for community and Jesus redeemed us for community.

If Jesus redeems us for community, then why is community such hard work? Why are relationships still filled with brokenness, even among people that call themselves Christians? This is the reality of the world we live in isn’t it? Building and enjoying healthy community is going to require us to believe the gospel, to believe that what Jesus did for us has power and relevance for the way we relate to God and others. This requires an intentional focus on our part. It means identifying the unbelief in our hearts that hinders the ability to love and serve others and to receive love from them in turn. It means receiving the healing, liberating truths of the gospel in ways that allow them to soak deep into the core of our being. And guess where the works of ongoing transformation takes place? In the community.

Community is also the primary context for mission. Our outward focus as believers. God wants us to use our communities, messy and broken as they are, to draw others into his story and introduce them to Jesus. It is about us becoming more like Jesus, showing love to one another, serving each other and it’s about people that don’t know Jesus coming to know him as Saviour and Lord.

We are created for community. We are redeemed for community and we are transformed in community. 

Here are some Bible verses that we have been challenged by recently, perhaps they'd help us be better at community:                                                            

Hebrews 10:24-25, ‘And let us consider how we can spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing , but encouraging one another.’

John 15:12 ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’

Luke 6:31, ‘And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.’

Proverbs 12:26, ‘One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbour, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.’

Deuteronomy 16:17, ‘Every man shall give as he is able, according you the blessing of the LORD which HE has given you.’

Ephesians 4:29-32, ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits for the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by who you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’

Hebrews 13:16, ‘And do not forget to do good and to share with other, for such sacrifices please God.’

Colossians 3:12-14, ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all things put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.’

A Moment in Our Minds...

Being a missionary is hard work!

I'm sure most people can imagine to some extent what our lives may endure, although the things we automatically think of as the most difficult parts, only begin to scratch the surface of the reality missionary life brings. Arriving back in Kenya last week after a short break back to the UK has brought to surface many emotions. You see, we actually now have two homes, and whilst being at one means we are far from the other. I regularly get the impression that we will never feel quite at home again. It's just, our hearts will always be elsewhere. I suppose that is the price you pay for the love that goes with serving and knowing people in more than one place! For whatever multitude of reasons we have been presently called to be a missionary family here in Kenya. We know we are in another season of doing what is right, not what is easy.

Two years ago, God made it very clear to us that we must follow where He leads, and that meant Africa. Joyfully we sold and gave away many of our possessions that we had accumulated over the years. We travelled, we journeyed, and we made our way from South Africa to the East. With a slight detour, we found ourselves in Kenya. So much has happened since the day we arrived. So much of what we have faced is incomprehensible and the rest somehow is impossible to disclose. It is difficult to mention or count the lessons we have learnt on this path. Are we even the same people we used to be? I wonder, do our loved ones still even recognise us? Sometimes, I feel myself to be unfamiliar. I guess, what doesn't challenge you, doesn't change you? Is this what it is to be moulded?

As time goes on and we continue to live oversees as missionaries, the most challenging thing for me seems to be watching others move on without you. I mean, I completely am aware we were the ones that moved. I understand that we are chasing the lead God has for us and it is far from our other home. We have often been blamed for living in a distant far off land, whilst our friends and family are still back home living their lives. The truth is, those are the lives that we still long to be a part of. Its missing birthdays, Christmas, engagements, weddings and the birth off your sister's or best friend’s child. It’s missing church events, family meals and not being there when someone you love is going through a storm, or a time worth celebrating. It’s missing the ability to make memories with those you care for, and the feelings you have when you listen to the memories you weren’t a part of.

It is difficult to even acknowledge, or discuss all the challenges that we face here. It is obvious that the blessings in our lives far outweigh the bad things. I suppose, we just are in the middle of another lesson, a lesson learning how to understand and deal with the weight of sacrifice. In Christ alone, my hope is found.

joy2.jpg

This morning I turned the pages in my bible and I read the words from Nehemiah 8 verse 10, 'The joy of the Lord s your strength.' You know, I am learning again and again to refuse to see trials and challenges as anything less than another opportunity to see my Father.

Each morning, it is my determination to be able to say, ‘It has been rough at times, but my God is also my Father and He is bigger than any mountain or giant we may face. I am His daughter after all and I am highly favoured, and because of this, I choose joy.’

 

Baby Strong

So, the news is out... Baby Strong is on the way and we are extremely excited

So, many people have been asking what area our plans are? Well, we believe that our mandate for Kenya hasn't changed at all. We still believe that being in Kenya is where we are supposed to be. Although we are planning on having a brief period in the UK to have our little boy, mid Sept - Dec, we are hoping and planning to return to Kenya at the start of the new year. All being well, we plan to then be in Kenya for another six months to continue the projects and work that we are forgoing.

Over the passed few months we have had several moments of sitting together, wondering how having a baby is going to fit into our lives as volunteers out in Africa, doing what we do. We have learnt to accept what is, we have learnt to let go of what was and we are choosing to have faith in what will be. We have been learning that we shouldn't always plan, we shouldn't obsess or imagine, sometimes we need to just take a few breathes and trust, let go and trust Gods plans. Raising a child in Kenya may be hard but hard is not impossible. Gods timing is perfect.

We are overjoyed and excited to have a new addition joining us on our journey, bringing us a whole new dynamic. This baby is a huge blessing, a gift from heaven, whom we already cherish and love. We feel like we have had a little practice over the passed 20 months, as being surrounded by all the children at the children's home has obviously come with its challenges and moments. We thank God that not only have we been learning on this journey, but that the little one will have such a big family! When we first told The KCP family, all the kids went absolutely bonkers! Their excitement, the noises and the volume level was one we shall not forget! The kids literally got up out of their seats, they jumped around, danced and we were thrilled they were so happy. We've had the girls cheering for a baby girl and the boys cheering for a baby boy. We have had many amusing questions, such as, 'will the baby come out black?' and we've had several kids requesting their name be used as the babies name.

As we left Kenya and the kiddies for six weeks in April to visit family and friends in the UK, we were a little sad saying goodbye again, but we knew that time would fly and here we are several weeks into our time away. We are at peace presently, but it is hard to be so far away at times. We truly miss the little ones and all their various characteristics. It may be hard to understand why we miss being there when we are here, especially when we often wish we were here when we are there! You see, we now have two homes. When we are at one, we are away from another and there is a lot of emotion attached to that. It can also be a little stressful living out of suitcases, I especially don't find that easy. We return at the beginning of June and we are looking forward to the staff and kids seeing how 'bump' has grown and hearing all their latest news and school reports.

When we return, we will be continuing to focus on heading up the social department. Our goal is to continue teaching and empowering the team to use all the resources, documents, policies and procedures that we put in place for them over the passed year. We also want to see how the follow - ups of the repatriated children are doing and how the social enquiries are going for the newly highlighted vulnerable children. This season of work has just begun and we cannot wait to see what will be achieved by the end of the year within the charity and within the social care team.

 

 

 

The Survivors...

Last Monday, we went to see how the Salvation Army run a project called 'The Survivors.' The women that are invited and attend are local prostitutes, either current or previous. It was a great turn out, between thirty and forty women showed up. We were told that there are normally many more, which highlighted how many have and are selling their bodies to survive in the town we live in. We were shocked at the various ages of these women. The work the Salvation Army is doing with them has only began last year, but it really is great. Their aim is to build relationships and teach each individual skills and abilities, perhaps making things to sell out of recycling or cheap materials, in order to ...sell. Their hope is that once each person finds something that they can do well, they will decide to make and sell these other things, instead of their bodies. We are fascinated at whether these women will change. We can learn a lot from this work as many widows also end up opting to sell their bodies in able to provide food for their families. They loose hope.  They do not value themselves, they just see poverty. Please pray for us as we prepare to go along to these meetings once a month. Pray that we will learn, and that we will get the knowledge and wisdom we need to also help the women on our radars!

For A Time Such As This!

When I was a young child, my dreams and ambitions were so big that not even an inch of me thought that I would ever be able to achieve any of them. God has been reminding me of the things He allowed me to dream as a little girl. He often whispers things to me that remind me of how I courageously used to think without limits. As a young girl, I never thought about whether I would be able to have enough money to achieve my ambitions, and I never thought about the various challenges I could face trying to reach them. I just believed that the only possible way I could ever achieve my dreams, the dreams that would fill my mind as I lay to sleep each night, would be through God alone. From the stories I would hear at church about my Father God, to listening to the many miracles He performed and still continues to perform, and from feeling Him deep inside, I knew His character was ultimately incomprehensible and that he could do the impossible. I am realising more and more that we must ask God for a childlike faith sometimes. When I say childlike, I do not mean childish. I believe there is a big difference. Childish faith could portray faith that would be easily fooled or easily led astray. Childlike faith is faith that thinks outside the box. The simplicity of a child's world view is amazing. Their innocent faith can be something that can be hard for us to exhibit as adults. As we get older, many often tend to mistake knowledge for wisdom. The more we know (or think we know), the more we doubt or question. You may feel like your reasons to reject the Bible are justified, but it only takes one reason to start believing it and allow it to transform your heart. The love of God changes everything. Once I accepted the fact that God loves me with an unconditional love, I then began seeing that living with a more childlike faith, hope and trust is a wonderful way to live. Simply having the faith to believe that He can do ALL things. The dreams God gives us seem more achievable when we have faith like that, and the impossible then doesn't just seem possible, it becomes possible. It becomes reality.

God has been talking to me about this season of our lives, being a season of equipping and training. I realised that this training ground we are on, is so that one day, together with my Heavenly Father's guidance (and in His perfect timing), we will achieve the impossible together. The dreams and ambitions that once seemed like huge giants will come into fruition because I believe He can do all things and He wants His plans to succeed. Miracles start to happen when you give all you have to Him. Giving every ounce of energy, every motion and every thought to the assignments that God has given you, instead of your earthly fears and earthly ambitions will prove you to be ready for great expeditions with your Daddy God. If your dreams don't scare you, if they don't take you to places that you never imagined going, then maybe your dreams are not quite big enough? God always does exceedingly abundantly above and He doesn't work in the natural. Who God is to us, He will be through us. Our God is massive and He works within the supernatural, not working within the limits of the world. Whatever circumstance you are in, it is time to be a dreamer, a thinker and it is time to become a doer. God will never fail you, so let's begin to really trust Him!

We need to be seen to be positive wherever we go, thinking bigger than ever before, believing in the unknown and having faith in the unseen. We must seek to see the impossible, we must do the unthinkable and we must live in the supernatural that is alive and that surrounds us. We must turn the impossible into possibility. We must rise up and join together our spiritual understanding, so that we can lead His people from death to life, out of darkness and into the light. We were each born and chosen for a time such as this. We have actually been training since the very day we were born, to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to not lean on our own understanding, to go to the places He leads us and to share His good news. We have been training to display our Father's love to the lost, to lead people to the cross and into salvation. It is all, for a time such as this!

Together, we are carriers of Gods authority, His Spirit and Gods truth, all of which needs to be taken to those around us, into the nations, and to the ends of the earth. We must be valued in communities to be able to influence the world! What influence do you have in your circles? We must seek to reveal His kingdom through invitation not invasion. Here on earth, we are in the middle of a spiritual war, where the darkness is trying to influence and compete for each life. There is more darkness in the world than any of us can ever imagine. As we serve here in Kenya, we are seeing many of the lives disrupted by sexual exploitation, injustice, baby sacrifice, slave labour, witchcraft, molestation, corruption at its worst, sickness and so many other horrific darkness's. It is time we choose to step up our training level. It is time we choose to blow back the darkness together by choosing weapons stronger than any darkness that surrounds. It is important that we realise that the spiritual realm is fighting against more than flesh and blood. The Trinity is the integral weapon we all need for this battle and Holy Spirit is the key to life, the key to causing the supernatural to happen on your assignments and mine. We need to take His light to the darkest places. We must not let the enemy have access to our mighty weapon of warfare. We must stand strong. God wants us to have access to supernatural resources. We must equally focus on the Trinity and allow for intimacy with our relationship with God.

God is rising up an army. He wants His army to have kingdom thinking, heavenly thinking. We must replace our earthly thinking with kingdom thinking. Jesus in us is kingdom! When Jesus is at the centre and we allow Him to intervene and control all our circumstances and our steps, we allow for the supernatural to happen. I believe that the supernatural has power to bring complete healing and peace to a country that is out of control. There is no time like the present when reaching out to those being held hostage by darkness, war and death. It is time to decide whether it is time to leave the training ground you have been on and embark on the next journey God has planned for you. It is time we act. Wherever each of us go, may we all go reflecting the outrageous love of our Father. Let's all live a life of love instead of a life of words. Let the love of God compel you to radically love in extraordinary ways. So today let's all exchange our earthly filters to become heavenly filters. Let's live to increase His fame on earth through His love. Let's achieve the plans He has for us and let's fulfil the dreams we were once given, the one's we thought too complicated and unachievable. Let's have childlike faith that takes us from our training grounds to our next chapters. Where will God take us? Where will He lead us next? How very exciting, we, all born for a time such as this!

Tune in, don't tune out...

The two youngest girls here at The KCP were sat on two separate mats in the classroom. Both were given a large pile of coloured bottle tops. They were asked to group them together according to their colour. One cutie pie completely understood the task and began grouping the kids into colours, but the other cutie pie wasn't so quick. We explained the task so many times and she just sat and looked puzzled! Suddenly she looked at me , this time I realised I had her full attention and as I explained the task again, I saw her reading my lips. She was focussing hard and this enabled her to finally understood and so she also began creating piles. This reminded me how we are as Christians sometimes. We often are given a task by God that doesn't quite make sense. Instead of listening carefully for directions, we go it alone or sometimes don't go it at all because it seems out of our depth or even unachievable. He wants us to tune in to His voice and He wants us to fix our gaze on Him. Once we truly listen and we follow the directions He gives, we can go on to succeed! Holy Spirit, please prompt us to listen harder and God, may we clearly see the path you set for us!

Dusty dry seasons...

It hasn't rained where we live in Kakamega since the day we arrived, nearly a month ago! It is very hot here and the dust lays thick everywhere. When the winds come, we then become surrounded and covered in the orangey grit and dust that soon finds us as a surface to rest.

It made me think about how we could become as individuals and as a married couple if the rains never came. If we are never rained on, if we never had to travel through a few thunderstorms, would we become dry? Would we ever be fertile soil again if the dry season never ended?

Last week, I blogged about 'facing a storm'. Are we supposed to wait for each storm to pass or are suppose to continue our journey? I believe we are supposed to hold God's hand tightly through each rainy season. Surely we want it to rain? I always hear sayings like, 'a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor' and 'learn to dance in the rain.'

Storms help you find out who you really are. Dry seasons with no rain would just allow you to sit comfortably but eventually they would not produce anything. Here in Kenya, when there is no rain to be seen and everything becomes dry and the lands look barren, times become difficult. People walk further to fetch water and many struggle to grow enough to provide their family with food to eat. We too can become unfertile. Storms challenge us and deepen our character, they stretch us in able for us to grow. The rain produces new life, nourishment and it allows fruit to grow. You know when you are really parched and your tongue is desperate for a little water? I often have this feeling when we are walking through the villages in the midday heat. My mouth longs to be refreshed. Picture a meadow that is surrounded and lined by beautiful green trees full of lush green grass. Through the trials and storms we pass through, our Father God uses them to pull us closer to Him. God wants us to be filled with peace and he wants us to be refreshed. We can only get this permanently from Him, He wants us to stand strong in His word at all times.

We as Christians are tender plants. Often to our apprehension, it may seem that our spiritual life is dying and not blossoming. Perhaps we are like a little rose bud, the stalk is a little bruised and it is swaying, almost wanting to snap in two. But, when the rain comes and we stand strong, we keep our gaze on the One above, we then are restored and no longer weak. Our stalks are firm and as time continues, we then represent an oak tree. A root that springs up in a rich fertile field, owes very much to the soil in which it grows. The bible says, in 1 Peter 5:10, 'And after you have suffered a little while, the God of grace , who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.'

I always admire people that choose to shine after a storm. I always admire people that tell you that storms don't last forever, whilst they are going through an awful thunderstorm. The thing is you can't calm storms and instead of trying to, we should try and calm ourselves and trust God. The storm will pass and once it does, you will be stronger and you will be an overcomer. It is about training yourself to find the blessings in everything.

One of the verses I have clung to in the storms we have passed through is, Philippians 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'

Talking about rain... it has just started to fall.

The greatest things are done by a series of small things brought together!

Imagine if everyone was passionate about ending world poverty.

Poverty is not an accident. It is actually a crime that we still tolerate poverty! It doesn't always look like crossing the world to feed a hundred people, it may be that you stay where you are and feed one. Eradicating poverty is not a task of charity, nor is it a task for a few, overcoming poverty is an act of justice. If you are neutral on situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.  I look back at the possessions I once had, the possessions I still have and the possessions I desire. No, we don't always get what we want but consider this, some people have never got what they needed to merely survive. So many people living around us do not have the necessities they need in life like we do in the West, some merely just exist, many don't live. The big issue here is that we have enough in the world for everyone,but the world doesn't have enough for everyone's greed. It breaks my heart to type, as I look out the window at the hopelessness around me and as I catch eyes that reveal desperate need for hope and love.

Imagine if everyone was determined to help a child that was fatherless, orphaned. Every child deserves a hero, a champion, an Father that can prove there is such love as Father love. A mother that shows kindness. We must step in to defend the fatherless and we must plead for the widows. The people suffering from poverty need someone who will never give up on them. Sometimes, whilst we are surrounded by scenes of poverty, it feels like it is punishment to a crime that was never committed. Living in Kenya, surrounded by pictures of grief and sorrow, it is understandable that the passion in our hearts to bring hope has increased. We feel it would be impossible to walk away from the opportunity God has given us in which we have the privilege to serve those who are in need and vulnerable. We have been pushed and pushed to do something. We should be repulsed by poverty. It is not normal for families to live off of scraps formed on the dirty streets. It is not okay that young children are living on the streets, fending for themselves and becoming victims of abuse. It is not okay when people have no rights. It is not okay that disabled people are outcasts in their societies and often hidden or killed because of lack of education.

If wealth came from nothing but the hard work and hours put in by each individual, I honestly believe many women in Africa would be millionaires! Often, I remind myself that Jono and I may not have the capability to change the whole world, we weren't born to change it all, but we can change the world around us. Jesus keeps reminding us to stop, when we hear the word 'stop' we can love on one person at a time. He wants us to raise our voice for the voiceless and he wants us to give our time. We are often asked why we have given up everything to serve God in Kenya, some people do not understand why we believe in a God that allows poverty. Let's just say, sometimes I do ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world. When God replies, He always asks me why the people of the world have allow it. It breaks His heart that we allow it! It is time we realise that poverty was not created by God, it in fact was created and allowed by us and it continues because we choose to not share what we have. So, here's to a year full of gestures, a series of small things that put together will bring light to more dark places. We pray that God will give us the strength as He leads us to those He wants us to bless. Father God, will you take Jono and I to where love is needed and will go with us. We are ready again, as we start this new week, to love one at a time. Are you ready to do something? It's time for a change, but change means acting. Are you in?

Let your roots go deep in Him...

Going through a storm? Facing a giant? We all face them!

Sometimes, like anywhere in the world I guess, the journey you are taking can take you through various storms. I am learning time and time again however, we do have a choice. You can feel a little wet without feeling heavy because of the rain. Many times, I have found myself sitting in a pit of negativity because I have chosen not to stand strong and stand firm in my faith. We need to begin soaking ourselves in His promises and furthering our relationship with our Father God. When we do this and we invest time into our relationship with Him, the roots of our tree go deeper, allowing for us not to waver when a storm hits. Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.

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Through stormy seasons, we have to take God our burdens, for He knows each and every situation you and I are in. We cannot make it without him, He can give you strength and He keeps us upright so that we can carry on and sometimes you have to fight a battle more than once to win it. If you feel weak and can't fly then run. If you can't run then walk. If you can't walk then crawl, but by all means just keep on moving and don't stop. When we stop, sometimes we start generating fears but we only overcome them through action. Once you work with God to irradiate your fears, life becomes limitless. Storms don't last forever, don't give up, carry on walking on in Christ!

Colossians 2:7. 'Let your roots grow down in Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.'

Join our Journey for 'WOW - Widows of Worth' 2015

Last year, 2014, we organised six programmes for widows. Why widows? We really feel God tells us in the bible that we should love and look after the widows and the orphans. Over the years, God has increased the desire in our hearts to invest into the widow’s lives, leading them to discover who their identity is in Christ. We strongly believe that if you help the widows, you too are helping the orphans. Their children are fatherless, and their families are without provisions. The widows in Western Kenyan are not just old women. An average widow is in her early forties and is caring for four or more children. In this culture, widows are outcasts, they are marginalised. They have no income, there is no sign of government aid, no advocate and they are frequently victimised. The widows struggle to meet the basic daily needs of their children and themselves: food, shelter, medical care, clothing, and education. Although public education is available for children, you cannot send children to school without proper supplies and clothing. Without an education there is often no hope for a better future.

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What is it that we want to achieve exactly? Well, ultimately we want to introduce the Trinity to as many people as possible. Our prayer is that every widow we meet will be lead to salvation. We feel our God wants us to express His heart to the widowed and abandoned women, to remind them of their worth and their purpose. Our vision is to assist them emotionally, socially, spiritually and where possible vocationally. We want to see these women working together in their communities to support each other and become self sufficient.

Our hearts are telling us to invest into their lives and love on them. We aim to tell them of their worth, aiding them to discover their identity as a daughter of the Most High King. We seek to see them grow in their faith and for their personal relationships with God to deepen. We want to represent our Heavenly Father by practicing love, mercy and grace, as Jesus taught and did.

James 1:27 says, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’

Sometimes it is difficult to know just how to help someone who has suffered great loss. It can be difficult to know what to say and it can be challenging to find the appropriate words. Grieving can be a long and slow process. We want to develop strong relationships with the widows in the rural areas around Western Kenya. We want to be able to form committees for them in theirs communities so that they are able to surround themselves with others that can empathise with their journey. Our hope is to teach them how to become self-sustainable by working together and using all their local and personal resources. Once each committee is formed, our aim is to elect leaders that will arrange and continue regular bible studies and prayer groups, as well as be able to highlight the most vulnerable and desperate widows to us so that we can assist - in a way that is appropriate.

This is just our vision, which has come from the passion God has raised up inside us over the past 15 months. We know that each time we offer our hands and feet to His works, He always does exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ever ask or imagine. We are so excited to see what God has in store, the people we will meet and we can't wait to see the fruit of His works this year.

Isaiah 1:17, 'Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.’

Miraculous Missionary Moments...

As we checked our bags in, it became clear that we were not sitting together on the plane. I began to feel a little nervous. Flying has never been an issue, it has always been an exciting experience however over the past few years, whenever we have flown a fair distance I have suffered from built up pressure in my head when descending. The only way I can describe this feeling is, it feels like your head is about to burst and land on someone's lap with your eyes no longer attached! The lady at the last check - in desk then tried to move us closer but we were still several rows apart. Jono and I began to pray for a shift. Our faith has grown so much over the past couple of years and we knew that our expectations of God to intervene needed to be bigger. As we boarded the plane and found our seats, Jono helped me put my baggage in the overhead locker, when a man then approached us. He said he had noticed we were together and he said felt prompted to swap his seat with us, so that we were then able to sit next to each other. It was so random and we have never experienced a complete stranger be so kind. As we sat together, we began thanking God for how He had prompted this stranger and we were filled with His peace. As we descended nine hours later in to Nairobi airport, I was so thankful I did not experience any pain either.

The bumpy road back to our home town was just the same as ever, a very dusty and bumpy experience.

'When you live in a place like Kenya but was born and raised in a place like the UK, you obviously start off by being completely shocked at everything you see when you are living within a third world country and it pushes you and pushes you to do something...' This is something I wrote in my journal last year and we experienced exact feelings once again as we travelled through the town and villages on the way back home. As we saw families struggling with poverty, watched very young children be sent out to fetch water and firewood and people eating from piles of scraps... we are here for a time such as this. Maybe we will not be able to change the world, but we can help change someone's world.

As we drove closer to our home town of Kakamega, our excitement grew and grew. Our eyes began meeting familiar faces and we both felt the feeling of contentment. As the gates to the children’s home became visible to our eyes, the feeling of joy was uncontainable.

The children and staff began singing and our names were being chanted throughout the compound. All the children seemed ecstatic that we were back and they were desperate to tell us their stories. Each child's hugs were so precious and they seemed to keep coming throughout the day. We then had a sleepover at the children's home and this enabled us to do some much needed catching up with the kids and staff.

Although we had been in the UK for five weeks, it suddenly felt like we hadn't been away at all. Being surrounded by all the little ones and being back in Kakamega seems very normal. Home. We have settled so quickly once again and we are back heading up the social department, working alongside and empowering the staff. We are continuing to work on the repatriation process that we started within The KCP last year and we have many children to follow up in their rural homes, which we are really looking forward to.

We have also started to plan the next WOW (Widows of Worth) event and we know that this year God wants to take the widows project to a new and higher level. I personally feel God's desperation for the widows of Western Kenya to discover their identity in Christ. I am hoping to share further my heart and vision for WOW with you in my next blog. 

To finish, it is Wednesday, we love Wednesday mornings! We get the privilege of taking the eight littlies swimming and it is so much fun! Jono is trying to teach them how to kick their legs properly as well as their technique. They all line up and one by one, they take it in turns to do a few laps with Jono in the big pool. It is so enjoyable to watch! They are really improving and not one of them is now scared of the water any more. Progress!!!  

 


Returning to our Kenyan Home

As we fly out to Kenya today, our hearts are not as sore from leaving family and friends as our hearts has been before when leaving on previous trips. Of course that is not because we care any less and although it is so cold, it is not because we cant wait to swap the weather. I suppose the feelings we have been having leading up to this departure, are feelings of contentment and  this then leads to excitement.

Over the past week we have had a real sense that we are still in the place God really wants us right now, still on the exact same path God brought us to. The scenery has changed and surroundings are a little different as we enter yet another chapter, but He is still leading us.

We have learnt so much over the past year, including; learning that sometimes even when it's both terrifying yet amazing, you should have faith and pursue it.

Just as I will never outgrown the excitement of looking out my window and seeing fresh snow, I could never outgrow the excitement of going on another adventure with our God.

Keep up-to-date by regularly checking this blog page! So here is to another year, another adventure, lets start the journey...