Christmas in Kenya

Last Christmas our church did some pretty cool stuff as we focused all of our energy on having A Different Kind of Christmas and we were able to give nearly $130,000 to our adopted community, Bondeni, in Nairobi, Kenya.  This year we are focusing our efforts on helping in our local community of Springfield, IL but I know many people may still want to do something to help in Kenya. 

One of the coolest things we did last year was to give people the opportunity to give specific gifts to the people in Kenya (school supplies, money toward a vehicle, etc) and present others with a gift certificate saying what was given.  While we won’t be doing that as a church this year, CMF and Hope International have done an amazing job of making that an option for anyone.  They recently sent out a catalog with tons of things you could purchase to help people around the world.

There are several giving opportunities that go directly to the people we have met and who we support in Nariobi.  I wanted to make it a little easier for people who want to to have A Different Kind of Christmas again this year so I thought I’d help make supporting people in Kenya a little easier.

Instead of racking your brain to create a Christmas list of stuff you don’t really need again this year, consider encouraging people to give you gifts like these.  I put together some simple gift certificates to give you something to print out and present to make if feel more like a Christmas gift.  You can see the full catalog of items (for around the world) and also donate the money at www.cmfi.org/catalog

Have a Merry “Different Kind of Christmas” this year!

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Shadrack’s Birthday

While Melissa and I were in Africa last year we met a little boy named Shadrack. When we came back, his story become one that the pre-K children at our church took as their own. The more they found out about him, the more they fell in love. Because they cared so much for him, they asked Keith & Kathy (the missionaries there) to try to track him down. Up until that point, he was just a street kid that we ran into and fed a meal to. Somehow (God) they were able to find him and now our pre-K students sponsor him to go to school. We recently got an updated picture of him and it is so cool to see him well dressed, cleaned up and wearing real shoes (his old ones could barely be called shoes). You can find out more about our meeting with Shadrack from this previous post. Anyway, today is his birthday so I thought I’d take this chance to share his story and say Happy Birthday Shadrack!

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Thank You

We were going to post this video in January but with all of the political unrest, we wanted to focus on praying for the community.  While we definitely need to continue praying, we wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to see this thank you video.

The following is a video mesage from our friends in Kenya.  Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible.  Over $130,000 was raised to help the people of Nairobi.  Countless lives will be changed becouse of your generosity.  Thanks for making this Different Kind of Christmas incredible!

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Resettlement Update

Tonight we got an update from Keith so we thought we’d share it here.

Hello and Happy New Year from Kenya,

People in Nairobi, Kenya are beginning to say “Happy New Year” finally. After the signing of a power sharing deal on February 28th between the country’s key political players, ending two months of post-election violence, our focus has been on resettlement, locating sponsored kids, peace initiatives and restarting people’s small businesses. Most of the displaced people are in Kibera and Mathare the country’s largest informal settlements (or slums).What we’re doing is exactly what the folks are asking for: money to rent a house and restart their business and get them out of the exposure of wind, rain, mosquitoes and insecurity. There are few alternatives to housing because of issues like vandalism, destroyed houses by fire and illegally occupied homes. But hundreds like Mary Anyango have found a place.

We resettled Mary about 3 weeks ago. She has two kids; one is in our centre at Bondeni (a village in Mathare) and one is 2 years old. When we went to visit her and give her a “house-warming” gift of food, she told me her story. First of all, she cried, and couldn’t stop, but in between the tears she shared how her husband died two months ago, not due to the violence, but due to AIDS. That’s why we took in her kid, last year to the Bondeni center. When the violence began, she had to run to the Air Force camp (her home burnt to the ground), that’s where one of our social workers found her. She and her kids are safe and in “a home” now. She’s back to work, it’s a casual job, meaning day to day in washing clothes by hand for others. She brings home $.70 a day, if she finds that job. She’s in our HIV/AIDS home based care program and doing great with others to support her and keep her from social stigma. The week before I saw her, she was visited by one of our church leaders, and he shared the love of God with her, and she dedicated her life to Him. Pray for Mary. Next week, I’ll update you on what else I saw there when I visited her. It’s another Mary, who is 12 years old…that’s another story.

You remember me sharing about Peter a Luo and his wife Beth a Kikuyu? They’re doing much better; she is staying with her mom, while Peter is looking for a place. We’re ready to help with a few months of rent when they find something. I visited with him last week, and he still has some fear about where to resettle, and there is still some insecurity in Mathare. He has a place in Mathare North, but it’s not friendly to his wife’s community, so he’s looking. While he shared his problems and need for a place I sensed something missing in his life. I asked him point blank, “Are you saved?” Here that question means a lot, like “are you a Christian?” or “have you dedicated your life to Christ?” or “have you accepted Christ into your heart?” It’s a loaded question, but I had to ask. He said, “No, but I want to. My wife has been praying for me to believe.” That’s all it took and I explained to him what it means to become a Christian. He’s attending our new church in Pangani and I’m preaching there next Sunday. I’m excited, because today, when I greeted him, I told him I can’t wait to see him there! He said, “Poa, tutoanana siku ile” (Cool, see you that day). It’s cool, Happy New Year! 
Keith and Kathy

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Peace in Kenya

If you haven’t seen the news, it looks like a peace agreement has been reached!  There is obviously still a lot to be worked out but it is encouraging to hear that the two sides have begun working together. 

Please continue to pray for peace an stability in Kenya.

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A Video Update

Many of you have been keeping up with what is going on in Kenya right now through the news and the new Hope Partnership website and you’ll be excited to hear that we just recieved word that Keith Ham, the primary CMF missionary in Nairobi, just put a video up on YouTube.  It is somewhat rough but it a great way to see a little bit of what they are doing right now in the Mathare Valley to try to help the people most effected by the politcal unrest. 

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Resettle, Reconcile, Return

Here is our most recent message from Keith Ham. 

Resettling the displaced families of Mathare is the main task of our relief efforts in Kenya at this point. Today, we’ve met with 26 families from the Air Force base camp to counsel them and encourage them to begin the relocation process. This is about the amount of families that we can meet with on a daily basis. What this means is they will find a home/residence on their own in an area of the slums that they feel safe. We will provide two months worth of rent to get them on their feet ($15 a month). Once they have moved from the ‘camp’ to the dwelling, we will assess what household items are needed and begin to purchase these. Some of the people were completely burned and everything will be needed, others were able to leave with a few personal belongings when they were chased out of their homes. We will provide two weeks worth of food supplies when they move in. Hopefully, they will be able to return to finding day jobs and be able to provide for themselves in the manner they were before this disaster. We will wait and see.

Beth Wambui (a Kikuyu) is married to Peter Oduor ( a Luo). These are the two main tribes fighting in Mathare. They have two beautiful kids, Calvin Odhiambo is out at Joska (our residential school) in the 4th grade and Abigail Atieno is at our Bondeni Center in kindergarten (where much of the violence has been concentrated). They (gangs, thugs) warned Peter that they were coming to kill his wife, Beth. He moved her quietly to a neighbor’s house along with the children. They found out and threatened the neighbors so Beth took the children and went to Peter’s sister’s house. Again, threats came that ‘some Luo’s were hiding a Kikuyu, and bad words were exchanged. Beth than, ran to the police depot camp with her children. That is where we found her yesterday and realized why the children had not reported to school yet. Today Calvin went out to Joska (40 minutes outside of Nairobi) and Abigail reported to school. Beth and Peter are looking for a place in Kosovo or Mlango Kubwa (two of our neighborhoods that have refused to allow the divisions and violence to happen). Once they find a place, we will pay two months worth of rent and figure out what Peter was able to save from their home as far as household items. Inside their new dwelling we will welcome them with a house-warming gift of two weeks worth of food. We will continue to counsel the family and pray with them as they try to begin a new life. Her husband loves her, she loves him, but they are caught up in the middle of this thing. Crisis counseling will be needed and one of our social workers will be involved in doing that.

Peter and Beth are just one family. Twenty-six others have begun this process today, more tomorrow and many more next week. What we are seeing are people under so much trauma and fear that they are paralyzed. They can not even assess their own simple needs. The government is saying that they have to leave the ‘camps’, but they do not even know where to begin. You ask them, “What did you lose in the violence?” They say, “I don’t know”, with a blank look on their face. They are stuck, frozen, fearful and not sure of anything. We are resettling our families with shelter, food, clothes, safety and hope. The source of hope is the living God. He alone can give them the courage to continue.

Reconciliation will be the next focus! Part of our relief efforts will be reconciling the two tribes living in Mathare. We are going to begin by using football (soccer). We are getting the youth together for football, food and fun. Up by the police depot is a large play field (close to our church in Kosovo) and we are going to sponsor a football tournament with lunch and games for the young. We will have gifts for all the participants to help facilitate the reconciliation process. We will play, pray, preach, eat and give gifts and do it again and again until we see one another as brothers and sisters.

Food distribution is continuing at the different camps. We are especially focusing on Mathare North and Bondeni where they have been hit hard.

Kids are returning! Last week we were wondering if the centers would ever look the same, but praise God, they are returning! Our staff has returned. With the exception of one person all of our 134 staff members have returned. One is stuck in the Eldoret area and calls frequently.
Our social workers and teaching staff are working very, very hard. They are resettling our displaced families and getting all of the children to their centers for school. Please keep praying!

Pray for…
• Relief efforts –food distribution to the camps.
• Resettling of our displaced families.
• Returning of all our kids to the centers.
• Reconciliation that can only come through the Spirit of God among the people.
• Rescuing of the image of God in our people of Mathare.
• Redoubling of our efforts in crisis counseling, home visits, follow up and especially evangelism.

Praise God for…Isaiah 40:11…”He tends his flocks like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
• Opportunities to serve Him.
• His resources to use, to His glory.
• His people responding in faith.
• His Son, in reconciling this world to Himself.

Thank you so much for your continuous prayers.
Love, Keith and Kathy

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