Fellowship Church of Spokane, Wa did a two week mission trip with Heart For the Land to visit a mission they sponsor in Kiminini Kenya called CEO Children’s Ministries. The trip took place in July 2016 with a team of 6 traveling to see the work they have been supporting for many years.
The following are some closing thoughts from Pastor Cary of Fellowship Church about their trip.
Michael Bushebi, our guide from Heart For the Land, told us that missionaries have three purposes to keep in mind…
- Learn the culture
- Serve the culture
- Live to tell the story
Well we have done our best to do all three of those things (and we are maybe especially thankful for number 3 being true.)
So I guess my thoughts will be centered on those areas.
Learn the Culture
I don’t think you can learn a culture in just 10 days. There are things that we did learn, differences that we noted, but to say we understand it all would be very far from accurate. We did learn some things however and trying to compare and contrast these observations with our own culture gave me interesting things to ponder. For one thing, the abundance of need and lack of resources seems to have created a real negative type of competition. There is a type of competition that actually helps a person aspire towards greater things. Two racers in a competition push each other faster and faster. Two businesses across the street from each other in competition for market share can help both the customer and the businesses by improving products, innovating creative solutions or increasing customer service.
But the kind of competition we experienced in Kenya seemed to be created by too many people all fighting against each other to get their portion before anyone else might take it. We noticed it in the market place, the neighborhoods and even in schools, churches and ministries. Just driving down the street was a battle with almost no organization what-so-ever. Each driver was fighting for their position on the road with no regard to laws, pedestrians, right-of-way or traffic signals. As we visited the community it seemed like everyone we met was trying to work some angle on us to get money. I said it felt like a two-week long time-share presentation. Edina told us many stories of schools constantly hassling her for money for school fees even though they cannot produce fee schedules, account balances or receipts. Corruption, lying, theft and price gouging is daily life and considered normal. We watched as Edina caught a school principle in lies for money. Michael told us that people like to start churches because they can collect offerings not because they are called into ministry. Even the orphanage we visited with the 80 children fell victim to a man that worked with them for several months then suddenly pulled out and took everything he could including their farming tractor. It is unthinkable.
There was a lot of beauty to the culture, their love for their country, the tradition and history, the bright colors in their clothing and dance in their music. But it seems like they will always struggle until they find ways to work together, work smarter and work harder instead of the selfish taking what they can before some other guy gets it.
Serve the Culture
In the short time we were there I’m not sure what we did to serve the culture other than show up. They are a very relational culture so we shook thousands of hands, greeted more people than we could ever account and had an almost daily schedule of home visits and meals. Other than visiting the children of the SHIM project we did not have any time to do any work, have meetings, or clean up the neighborhood as we brainstormed that we might do. Still I’m very confident that we served the culture. It might not have been our idea or agenda but that is the point. We entered into relationships. We met together, broke bread together, heard and told stories together, prayed together, shared ideas and tried to leave blessing and thankfulness everywhere we went.
When it comes to trying to change the culture, bring enough support to fix the problems, or find solutions to very complex problems it felt a little like we are trying to sink a battleship with a BB gun. Certainly we are seeking God’s help in any work we might set our hands too but still the needs are overwhelming. But if we think of it as serving the culture, just doing our part, I am confident that we can and we did make a difference. We will continue to serve, providing the best support and guidance that we can.
Live to Tell the Story
We are on our way home now. The time went so quickly and we can’t believe it is over. Two years of preparation, work and then the long trip…and now it is over. But we have much to share. We have the stories, the pictures, the memories and more but what we bring back is so much more than the retelling of the adventure. We bring passion, renewed commitment and even a stronger sense of God’s hand guiding and providing in our lives and in this work. We saw His heart as our eyes where opened to His work and we even saw miracles that helped us along the journey.
Now we hope to share the moments that we captured but also the living presence of God that we encountered. It would be my prayer that as we share our story it would ignite in others this kind of service unto the Lord in the calling He has placed on each hearer.