Even though much of their luggage burned to ashes in the big fire at the Nairobi airport on Aug. 7, a team of 12 New Englanders had a “heart-stretching” 10-day experience with the children and staff of Missions of Hope, reports trip participant David Shaw.
“We arrived in Kenya late on Aug. 5,” said David, “and 11 of the 24 bags arrived safely. The other 13 bags didn’t arrive until later in the evening of Aug. 6. We were told to expect delivery, but we never got them due to the fire at the airport on Aug. 7. A majority of everyone’s personal belongings were destroyed! I was one of the lucky ones whose luggage made it, along with a guitar I brought to donate to the school.”
The team was comprised of folks from two Rhode Island churches – NorthPointe Christian in Smithfield and SouthPointe Christian in Warwick – and led by Steve and Gail Martin from Rockingham Christian Church in Salem, New Hampshire. And despite the fact that many of the close-knit team had to make due with very limited resources, they were undaunted, bonding even more closely together, and trusted that God would provide.
“And oh boy, did he ever!” said David, a musician. “Our main focus was the Nyayo school in Korogocho, teaching classes in music, science, art and story-telling. My specific job was to teach songs about Jesus that tied into our nature and ocean curriculum. We also visited families in their homes, taught them about water purification, and helped bring light into their homes with sky lights and plexiglass installation.”
One of the highlights of the trip for David was meeting his sponsored child, Joseph, and his mother, Rose.
“It is one thing to see the child on paper, but then to actually get the opportunity to give your child a hug and play with him on the playground after lunch and teach him songs is pure Christ love,” said David. “So while I was there I decided to choose another child to sponsor so that I could meet him and form a bond before I left. That’s when I met Jonathan, and I was also able to spend quality time with him.”
David quickly noticed the differences in the slums with MoHI schools, and was impressed with the schools’ staffs and the CMF missionaries who work with the Hope Partnership.
“You are truly making a difference,” he said. “I saw it first-hand. In the slums where there are CMF/MoHI schools you can really see God’s hand in the community. There is a tangible difference between these areas where the kids are being educated, cared for and taught about Jesus in comparison to other slums where there aren’t any schools or CHE programs.”
David hopes to return to Nairobi in the future, along with his wife Robin and daughter Hailey. He credits his relationship with Christ and his church with helping him overcome previous problems with addictions, and now, he says, the focus of his life has changed to glorify Jesus and serve others.
“Before I was saved and became sober, I never would have imagined myself going to Africa,” he said. “And I really had no idea what God had in store for me before I went. I have never cried so much in my whole life as I did in our nightly debriefings with the team, and saying goodbye to Joseph and Jonathan and all the children and staff was intense. But my tears quickly turned to a joy that I have never experienced, a pure, unadulterated Christ love.
“You can count on my passionate, inspired support and advocacy of CMF and Missions of Hope,” he added. “I will continue to do whatever I can to get the word out. I have seen for myself the hope and love that God is bringing to these communities through your team.”