Pure and Undefiled Religion: Meet Loise Anita

In our previous post  Putting a Face on the HIV/AIDS Tragedy in Rural Africa, we briefly highlighted the impact and tragedy of the epidermic to the community in general, especially to the children.

018Loise Anita, 4 years, is one of the children living with HIV/AIDS in our community. Her parents both died due to HIV and left her under the care of the grandmother, who is a widow. A specific food program was recommended for her by a local government health officer. However, her grandmother cannot provide the special diet needed to keep her strong and healthy, due to the financial pressures of raising Loise alongside of other young children in the home, on her limited means. This situation is a difficult one for little Anita, whose physical growth and  mental development is under threat of compromise.

How much we yearn to help and support this family, especially the children! Currently we don’t have an established food program for families of HIV patients as we do for the malnourished children, yet the needs are just as pressing. We are looking forward to establishing something for these families too, if the Lord will grant us the grace and resources to do so. For a time, we are incorporating Anita into our existing malnourished food program; however, that program is already at its maximum for the funding we’ve received. To help her (according to the health department’s recommendations) and keep the existing program going will cost approximately $40 per month. Not only would we love to help Anita, but other families affected by HIV, whom we are currently assisting in other ways.

” Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in the their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” said James the Righteous. Join the Kingdom Driven family and help Loise Anita! Help us to create a circle of life with strong hopes for the orphans and widows. Make a father and mother for Anita; be the hands and feet of Jesus.

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Peace and blessing unto ALL souls.

Village Life : Brick Making

Traditional mud house

A modern brick house

As time marches on, also the wheels of human development continue to turn. Human beings, despite their differences in geography, race, traditions, and ideology, all share something in common: a deeper longing and desire to improve and better ourselves as one race–the human race.

Evidence of our evolution (in terms of constant growth) is visible everywhere: skyscrapers, technological advancement, scientific discoveries. This modernization, particularly over recent decades, is mind-blowing. As we celebrate all these great successes in knowledge and industry, let us celebrate the seemingly humble brick-making industry in the developing villages of Africa, especially here in Kenya. Indeed, here it is a great leap of evolution to see how many families in villages are moving from mud houses into permanent brick houses.

For about the last twenty years, brick making has been viewed as one of most rapidly-growing industries in Kenya. In fact, it is one of the most reliable sources of income to many families who own infertile and agriculturally-defective lands. It is also a source of self-employment for folks with little or no formal education. There are two main catalysts for this growth: the emergence of a middle class, which is driving the demand for better and more permanent houses; and a shortage of employment opportunities among young people.

In its early stages, brick-making was viewed by many educated people as an occupation for poor and illiterate folks. But with time, and the reality of the scarcity of job opportunities, this perception has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis. Shortage of employment opportunities in the big cities and towns has forced many educated and strong young people to return to their villages and venture into the brick making industry, therefore utilizing their infertile and unproductive lands.

In comparison to agricultural use of land, one advantage of brick-making is that it can be undertaken at any season of the year. However, many brick makers prefer to fire their bricks during dry seasons, as finding dry wood during a rainy season can be challenging.

Materials required for brick making are easily obtainable, as they are natural resources:

  •  Clay or loam soil
  • Laborers (5 men can make 1000 bricks)
  • Dry wood (4,000 KSH–approximately $40–can make 5000 bricks)
  • Water
  • Brick-shaping box

The process of brick making:

Digging the soil, crushing, and mixing soil and water. This takes about two weeks’ time.

 

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Molding, laying and drying, takes about one week in dry season.

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Cooking of the bricks takes one full day and night. In the photos, you can see that the bricks are stacked and covered with mud to create their own insulated oven. During the dry season, when brick-firing is most common, you will see many columns of smoke continually rising over rural places; at night, the bonfire rising from the heart of the brick pile is truly beautiful.

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057Final examination and stacking/packaging of the bricks is the last phase of brick-making

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At last the bricks are very much ready for marketing and building. During dry seasons, one brick will be sold for 5 KSH, while in rainy seasons the price will go up to 7 KSH. The brick-making industry has transformed thousand of lives in many of the villages of Kenya. It has placed food on the table, provided clothes for many families, educated many children and above all restored the usefulness of the infertile and unproductive lands.

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Leadership Development

One of the greatest achievements of any leader is the ability to impart successfully the gifts that God has given to them, to other people. A good leader also has a desire to share the accumulated knowledge they have gathered over many years of learning. It is not just enough to have men and women following after you, but to make many men and women capable of continuing on in your work–this is a mark of a true leadership. This is what Jesus Christ did many year ago with his disciples: he created men who would carry on his mission. He imparted his spiritual gifts and knowledge to the twelve men he walked with.

From the onset, the greatest mission of Kingdom Driven Ministries had been to produce and create men and women who can lead themselves, their families, and their communities in living and manifesting Kingdom life. Our goal was, and still is, to equip and prepare men and women for the roles of leadership. Though the Carriers and Glenn Roseberry have done the initial work of bringing the message of the Kingdom to East Africa, the goal has always been to raise up  indigenous leaders who will be even more effective in sharing that message with their own people.

In our local fellowships we have been abundantly blessed with many wise and good old and young men. Men of strong integrity and solid faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But does it mean that any good man can be a leader? Or does it imply that every wise man can take the role of leadership?  We learn from Paul’s letter to Titus that there are attributes and special qualification to be considered before we appoint elders who are the future leaders of the church. Leadership is a gift from God, and it is only He who appoints and anoints leaders.

For two to three years we have been seeking the will of God through prayers to reveal to us who are the men He has prepared for this great responsibility of leading and feeding His flock here in East Africa. It has not been an easy task to identify these men, considering the great numbers of wazee (“old men”) who are continually added to our fellowships. It is wisdom to be patient and wait for God’s time. His time is always the best and His ways are not our ways, nor His thought our thoughts.

Missionary Marc Carrier has not only been a teacher of the Kingdom Gospel and a discipleship trainer, but has also been identifying men with leadership qualities who have the ability and the gifting to carry on the work of the Kingdom. Despite all the challenges and difficulties encountered in this endeavor, the Lord has been faithful and our strong support along the whole journey. Now the sweet fruits of the hard and bitter toil is emerging slowly like a corn seed will sprout from the dark ground after many days of struggling under the soil.

For any effective preparation and development of leaders to occur, there must be an extensive work on teaching and disciplining to be undertaken. For months and years, Marc has been leading various weekly and monthly leadership training and discipleship meetings and classes, especially for teachers and evangelists. The efforts invested were not in vain. Recently we have witnessed rising and emerging of leaders in different fields: teachers of the Word, evangelists and deacons. Some of these leaders have been recognized by the church and officially ordained.

Identifying and training first generation leaders was challenging due to cultural and language barriers. There were seminars and classes, yes, however, the real discipleship occurred in the field while doing the work of ministry. The prevailing method of Model, Assist, Watch and Let do (MAWL) was limited by the need for translation. Yet, this impediment to organic indigenous leadership development has now been removed as the first generation of leaders has taken on the responsibility of training subsequent generations of leaders.

Among them is Lazarus Lordia, a teacher, evangelist, and the leader of Bidii house church (learn more about him from our previous article, Father to the Fatherless), and Nashon Ouma, teacher, evangelist and pioneering missionary in Uganda  (learn more about him from our previous article, Young Evengelists in Uganda). Also, Silas Khaemba, a teacher, evangelist and deacon, (learn more about him from our previous article, Putting a Face on the HIV/AIDS Tragedy in Rural Africa) and Mzee Timothy, an elder and deacon (learn more about his ministry our previous article, The Lord’s Treasures). These men and indigenous leaders have been fully trained and equipped in the great work of service. Currently they are the ones who are training and preparing others for the roles of leadership and responsibility for the church through weekly classes including drill and practice, providing a consistent life example and on the job training. We praise the Lord that numerous prospective leaders are now in queue.

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Nashon and Lazarus,
baptizing a former Muslim man.

 

 

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Lazarus and Wafula,
baptizing together after teaching

 

 

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Mzee Timothy with Micah Juma
at Eldoret Hospital for medical procedures

 

 

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Young Silas (right) leading wazee in weekly evangelism training

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Wazee practicing their presentation of “The Two Kingdoms,” two by two

 

 

 

There is also an ongoing discipleship and training with wazee during their weekly Tuesdays meetings and fellowship, where they are guided through Bible Study lessons and discoveries of the Kingdom. These meetings also provide a solid ground for unification and oneness among the brothers. Here also, disputes and church discipline issues are brought up and discussed as needed. We praise God for His continual guidance in the slow and steady process of discipleship, and for those He has clearly gifted for the tasks of evangelism, teaching, and oversight of our existing fellowships. We ask for your prayers as we continue to invest in leadership development and look forward to transitioning our local fellowships to indigenous leadership and self-governance.

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Wazee weekly meeting

Seasonal Changes

  004 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let006 them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give lights on the earth.” (Genesis 1:14-15)

What a great calamity for humanity, that many men and women will pass through this life without gaining full knowledge of the mysterious creation over their heads! Living as if life was a disturbing dream, so eager to avoid it. Many will behold the morning sun and exclaim, ”What a beautiful  and mystical sight is the sun!,” while some will whisper, “Truly the moon is the splendor and beauty of heaven’s sky.” But beyond these simple expressions of appreciation and recognition, very few people will bother to understand why they exist; what are the main purposes for the luminaries, and why did the Lord God established them?

We learn from the Book Genesis that God didn’t create these heavenly bodies just for the sheer beauty and decoration of the sky, nor only to give man a spectacular sight to behold. He made them for higher reasons and a greater purpose.  One of the higher reasons was to give man knowledge and understanding of  signs and seasons, specifically, to enable him to prepare his land. In fact, the English word “season”  is derived from the French saison, meaning “to sow.”

When is the last time you went outside to look at the stars at night? How often do you meditate on the wonder of God’s creation at the signs of the seasons? It seems to me that this generation is more out-of-touch with these ancient phenomena then its predecessors. Yet because of their dependence on the earth for sustenance, the ancients before us have had tremendous knowledge and understanding of such things. For example, the ancient Egyptians were well-versed in heavenly observance;  they waited for the right time of sowing and harvesting. They discovered that the star (Sirius) preceded the flooding of River Nile; to them, this was the sign of a new planting season. The ancient Hebrews, no doubt, had great knowledge of seasonal changes as well. Jesus’ parable refers to this:

Then He also said to the multitudes, ” Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘ A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?” ( Luke 12:54)

Unlike other parts of the world that experience four full seasons of the year,  many parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia experience only two distinct phenomena:  dry and rainy seasons. In our area, we experience two rainy seasons. “Long rains” are during the months of April, May and early June. “Short rains” are for just a few weeks in November and December. After the season of short rains follows a long, dry season from mid-December to March.

Now is the time of year in our area when every farmer is busy preparing their fields for planting season, as the signs of long, rainy season are at hand.  People employ different ways and systems of cultivating lands. Rich folks will hire big tractors, what we might call the “middle class” will employ oxen, and  the poorest will have to plow with a jembe in hand.

After tIMG_1391 - Copyhe preparation the heavy rain will be here, and most farmers will plant their maize seeds. Corn takes almost 6 to 7 months before it is harvested. The right time for corn harvesting is during the short rainy season, November -December. Until then we pray for God’s blessing as farmers are committing themselves to His mercy in this life-sustaining occupation.

 

Heaven sings! Heaven sings!
yet man can’t see,
Heaven sings! Heaven sings!
yet man continues to sin.

Why doesn’t man see,
though he has eyes?
Why doesn’t man understand,
though he has senses?

Man is still a fool,
Man is a weary beast.

Young evangelists in Uganda

042It might sound like a fairy tale or perhaps an ancient tale of the apostles dividing the world among themselves,028 and conquering them for the Lord. You may wonder and say to yourself, “Am I reading an account of St. Thomas evangelizing the villages of Asia, or is it St. Peter preaching in the city of Rome?” Believe me, this is far away from a fairy tale, though many centuries away from the ancient accounts of the Lord’s apostles. This is a story to tell, a tale of two young, devoted evangelists, full of zeal and enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God. A marvelous tale of Nashon Ouma and Isaiah Carrier, the carriers and pioneers of the gospel to the rural villagers of the nation of Uganda.

  And Jesus came and spoke to them saying”All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Mathew 28:18-20

 

This is a story about Isaiah Carrier age 17, the eldest son of Marc and Cindy Carrier, the missionaries from America sojourning in the land of Ham, and Nashon Ouma, age 25, the eldest son of Wilson, both disciples and natives of Kenya. In one way or the other their souls are deeply entwined like David the son of Jesse and Jonathan the son of King Saul. Surely these must be the doings of the Lord. How could it be otherwise in this world of conflict and hatred and racial discrimination?

Nashon and Isaiah are normal and ordinary young men just like any other young men. What distinguishes them is that they are here on a greater mission, with a greater set of responsibilities and a greater accountability to the one who sent them to all nations. Their lives are demanding though they are still youths. Their lives are trials. Their journey is rough and tough. It is not a journey for the faint hearts or for those seeking pleasure and repose here on Earth. Do you think is an easy occupation to be an evangelist? No, it is not easy and it had never been easy, even the accounts of the apostles concur with this truth.

In the Acts of the Saint Thomas the apostles are shown dividing the nations among themselves for the evangelistic activity. When Thomas was assigned India, he protested, ”I cannot go there because of the fatigue of the body on the journey, for I am a Hebrew.” Jesus then appeared to Thomas, urging him to go to India, but he continued to resist, saying , ”I would that thou wouldst send me into another country, for unto the country of India I cannot go.” It was not until our Lord appeared himself to Abbanes a merchant from India, and sold Thomas to him as a slave. Thomas recognized himself as Jesus’ slave, yielded, and thus went to India as a slave of Abbanes the merchant. The result was he baptized many many people and until today he is recognized as the father of the Asian church.

( Excerpts from Search for the Twelve Apostles, by William S. McBirne)

It was the same story, too, with Nashon and Isaiah, genuine hesitations: “We don’t know their native language….what about the fatigue of riding a motor bike to a foreign nation?…but we are not mature enough, we are still young.” To them these were among their great cloud of fears which they had to face and conquer. It is true that an evangelist’s resolve will be determined with the quality and quantity of preparation and disciplining for their mission. Isaiah being the son of Marc, a servant and disciple of Christ, had a higher advantage; he was disciple since the day he was born and in his young age he is very well versed in the ways of the Kingdom and the teaching of the LORD. His only dilemma was the challenged posed by his skin color, the color that many African consider to be the true color of the dollar. Perhaps you are not aware  that white skin has a greater potential to do permanent damage than good in the evangelism field.

Nashon was not also disadvantaged in his training and discipleship. Since the time he finished his High School education in November 2013 and was baptized at the same time by brother Marc, he had been walking very closely with Marc until on November 2015, when he was ordained by the church as an evangelist. Was this ordination a vain and fruitless thing? For the answer let us follow them to one village in the nation of Uganda.

First apostolic mission for Nashon and Isaiah

On their first trip to Uganda, these young and  inexperienced evangelists were led by Marc himself. Their mission was to find their manman o peace ug 6 of peace. It was not long before they met one shoemaker and established a relationship with him. After few days of teachings it was obvious he was not their man of peace; the shoemaker was not ready to count the cost and surrender to the kingdom. Their mission ended there. They returned back to Kenya. After one week Marc sent them again with more instructions and blessings. And on their second mission trip the Holy Spirit was guiding them. Isaiah noticed a man walking alone and silently as he passed them, then he whispered to Nashon, ” That must be our man of peace, let us follow him.” They immediately arose and followed him. After they caught up with him, Nashon didn’t  believe  what he discovered, his great fear of the language barrier melted away like a wax passing close to the fire, believe it or not he was able to speak the native language of the village, very fluently,  just like the natives of the land. For sure the Lord was with them just as He promised His apostles. If it was not a miracle then it was a divine preparation.

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Nashon asked the man if he was willing to open his house for them and allow them to share the gospel with him and his family. The man was very much pleased with the words and also with the young men. He welcomed them and invited his neighbors who numbered to more than twenty four men and women. Nashon and Isaiah planted the seed of the kingdom using one of our most powerful field tracts, Two Kingdoms, to lay the foundation of the kingdom. The message threw them off their balance; it was such a powerful and unique message to them, not forgetting it came from young and simple men. The day ended, and they were welcomed the following day to hear more from them. On their second day they shared with them the second field tract, Repent, Surrender and be Baptized, which led five people to repentance and surrender and Nashon baptized them. The Church was established immediately in the house of Humfrey, a former Muslim, their man of peace. And they continued in teaching them more about the kingdom in obedience to what Jesus said to do with the newly baptized, using the third field tract ...and Teach to Obey ALL that Christ COMMANDED. Two more young  men surrendered and were baptized and the  number of the saints numbered to seven. Now they are leading them  slowly through the teachings  of what New Testament church is all about in the fourth tract,  What does the Bible Say about  CHURCH? as they  lead them on their journey of Kingdom discovery. In this journey they were not left empty handed….they left them with two powerful tools to illuminates their understanding as they begin their royal journey and greater adventure of mankind towards the discovery of the ancient treasure, the kingdom of God, in His parable of the Hidden Treasure he said, “Again, the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.“(Mathew 13:44). They received the Bible in their native tongue, the likes they had never ever seen before, and Kingdom Discovery Bible Study guide book. It is their first time to own a Bible and I believe it is an incredibly miraculous gift to them. ( All the field tracts mentioned above are very helpful and freely available on this website.)

 

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 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” Mathew 24:14

We glorify Our Lord and King for imparting His divine grace in the life of this two young faithful witnesses of the kingdom gospel. It may take us eternity to fully comprehend the greatness and achievement of these young evangelists, but I do believe God and His angelic assembly, and Satan and his demonic assembly, fully understand the impact to their respective kingdoms. Now we must fully understand that a father will be known through his sons, and a teacher through his disciples. As we speak peace and blessing to Nashon and Isaiah, let us speak great blessing and peace to their teacher, Marc Carrier. Above all pray for the young and new house church in Uganda. Pray for Nashon as he continues to labor in translating the literature to the local vernacular. Pray for Kingdom Driven Ministry! We need your prayers. They are vital.

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Greetings from  the Horn of Africa. Peace, be still.

 

 

 

Sympathize with the Needy

IMG_0747Micah Juma, age 28 is a patient who was sent to us by a local government official, the chief of Matunda location, for medical assistance. When the chief summoned Micah’s father at her office to face the charges against him, presented by his creditor for failing to pay back their money, this Mzee broke into tears at the chief’s office. He lamented ”I have sold all that I had to treat my son, I have borrowed from my friends, but the hospital bills are getting higher and higher every day, and my son still suffers. I don’t know what to do next, I have reached the end now, please have mercy and pity on me.” The Chief was filled with great sympathy for the man and she called the missionary Marc Carrier and asked if he can help this patient.

Micah has had a supra pubic catheter since December 2011 following a car accident where his back bone was badly broken and he suffered a severe urethral injury. He was referred to Moi Teaching Referral Hospital for special treatment but due to financial challenges he was not able to go. His condition is deteriorating day by day; now the catheter has stopped draining and the Supra pubic cytostomy has started oozing blood and pus. To do complete surgery replacement will cost not less than K sh 150,000 ($1,500). Also to replace the broken joint in his hip with an artificial component connecting the femur and tibia, will cost not less than K sh 60,000 ($600).

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To do good  at all seasons to those we wish to help is not always possible; only one way is ever open, and that is the way of sympathy; as author James Allen notes, “sympathy given can never be wasted.” One great aspect of sympathy is that of pity–pity for the distressed and pain-stricken, with a desire to alleviate or help them in their suffering. The world needs more of this divine quality, “For pity makes the world soft to the weak and poor, and noble for the strong” (Sir Edwin Arnold). To rejoice with the happy in the day of their happiness, to share their sorrow when ill befalls them, to lend a hand in all their difficulties, to fear disaster for them is the pathway to godliness.

Please help us help Micah by donating at www.kingdomdriven.org/donate. Thanks and God bless you.

 

February 2016 Medical Update

Apparently February was a month for broken bones in our small Kenya village. We sent two young girls to the District Hospital, one to set a hand broken in a fall (pictured below, after cast was removed) and another to set a leg broken when she was hit by a motorbike (pictured below with cast). If you remember the elderly Mama with the broken ankle from last month, she also re-visited the hospital for a follow-up and to have her cast removed. We are pleased to report that she is back on her feet, praise God!

Eunice, a mother of 10 children (nine girls and one boy!) went to the clinic with what she suspected to be malaria, but it turns out she picked up brucellosis, a disease common among those who have milking cows (which Eunice does). This took several visits to the clinic for injections, and she now reports improvement. A neighbor of ours, Rose, a middle-aged Mama, was bitten on the leg by the dog of one of our other neighbors. She also went to the clinic for treatment.

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Judith

Mzee Robert

Mzee Robert

Judith, an abandoned wife with two teen girls in our fellowship, has struggled through TB treatments for the past several months, and had finally been improving. You can imagine how difficult it was for her to get sick again this month, now with malaria and typhoid. After much prayer and treatment, she is now feeling better. Please keep her in prayer, as her TB needs ongoing treatment (it is government subsidized), and when she has other ailments it is very challenging for her physically.

Our Matunda fellowship’s Mzee Robert was assaulted by a neighbor and injured. We sent him to the clinic for treatment. Also visiting the clinic was Lucky, a 16 month-old boy in our church who is always smiling as he toddles around (somewhat unsteadily). Apparently, in toddler fashion, he got an injury that no one noticed until it got good and infected. It was lanced, drained, and cleaned, and Lucky went home with some antibiotics.

Throughout this month, 13 patients were treated (some for more than one problem, i.e., malaria and typhoid) at our local clinic with the following diagnoses: malaria (6), typhoid (5), soft tissue injury (2), septic wound (1), urinary tract infection (1), and brucellosis (1). The total cost for these treatments was $125. We had referrals to the District Hospital for the broken bones and wound care, in the amount of $90. We also replenished our supply of OTC malaria meds and ibuprofen, which were given out as needed. In addition, several HIV patients were assisted with transport to and from the District Hospital to pick up their monthly medications. In total, our routine medical expenditures (excluding special cases such as surgeries and treatment for chronic illnesses) came in just under $350.

Esau

Esau

broken arm

Wafula

Our special medical expenditures for this month amounted to almost $70. We sent Wafula to the Orthopedic Hospital for a checkup on his badly broken arm (which last month was repaired through surgery with screws, etc.). Also, the young boy Esau (about age 13), who has severe swelling of his spleen, went for further appointments. Last year he was treated for visceral leishmaniasis, which proved ineffective. Earlier this year, he was treated for malaria as a possible cause; they also speculated that the problem could be related to sickle-cell anemia. After taking various medications, he went this month for a follow up and it was determined that the treatments made little progress in reducing the swelling. At the end of next month, he will return to the regional teaching/referral hospital to see if we can nail down an underlying cause and get an effective treatment in order. Please pray for him in the coming days; we trust that God can heal him.

Village Life: Water and Fire, Part 2

Recently, I (a Kenyan young man) was discussing with my sister the subject of village women and firewood. I was rather intrigued with her view on the topic:

” I believe for an African woman to be wise and complete, she must understand the value of wood, because wood determines her worthiness in the community and defines her role and strength as a woman. Any woman that overlooks wood,  she is not a real woman; that is violation of ancient African wisdom and natural laws.”

These powerful words of my sister changed my perspective on the importance and the role of wood in African communities. Though I’m not sure I fully understand it, I can’t argue with the fact that wood is a very central subject in African women’s daily life.

In ancient African villages, and even still in our modern villages, the value of a woman was highly based on her ability and skill in collecting firewood and fetching water; these are the core of true womanhood. Those who were skilled in these arts and undertook the duty heroically were considered  prudent and talented. It was a sign of prudence for a woman to know how to keep her firewood rack full during all seasons of the year. And talent? You’ll know what I mean when you try to carry a bundle of firewood on your head!

Since in African traditions it was the responsibility of the elder to choose life-time marriage partners for the young people, their wisdom was not solely based on appearance. A careful reading of Proverbs 31 likewise shows the value of a wise and strong, hard-working woman in the ancient Hebrew culture. A woman’s value and worthiness were not based on her beauty and charms, but rather on her practical skills and abilities. Though modern times have changed some things, collecting water and wood are still necessities for most women in African villages. It is still a sign of discernment for a man to choose his future wife based on her abilities in these areas of vocation. Young girls who learn this well are usually the first to be noticed by suitors.

A woman’s options for lighting fire are many in these modern times, but firewood is the most available natural resource and relatively easy to obtain. Is the task easy and enjoyable? Personally, I don’t think so, looking at the distance these women have to cover in searching for firewood, especially in places of deforestation. On average, it will take a woman at least five to six hours in a day to collect enough wood to last the next two or three days. Those who are unable to go and fetch wood (either because of scarcity of wood, poor health, or time constraints)  do have the option of buying firewood. Enough firewood for one week, sold in small pieces, will cost  at least 200 shillings (about $2). That doesn’t seem like a lot until you think about 200 shillings being a full day’s wage for most villagers. In American terms: a yearly salary of $40,000 per year breaks down to about $110 per day. Can you imagine spending $110 per week on propane or electricity to fire your stove? The “time is money” paradigm is the reason why African Mamas, if they are able, spend so many hours collecting the free firewood that is available from various sources.

The task of collecting wood is not the only labor; after coming home, the wood must be arranged and stored in neat piles, often in the mud kitchens,  as  it dries slowly. When the wood is dry enough to burn, large pieces must be cut with an axe and long sticks broken into manageable pieces. Mamas make a traditional meko using three stones (shown in the picture) or a more advanced one made of bricks and mud. Keeping a fire lit under the meko would be difficult for those used to cooking on an electric stove, but these Mamas are practiced at pushing sticks slowly into the fire and breathing dying embers to life.

Carrying firewood is not for the lazy nor indolent, and success in the endeavor belongs to the most industrious and intelligent Mama. She must know the best sources for gathering wood, have the courage to foray through forested areas, and strength and balance to return home with large bundles of wood atop her head. Today’s generation of educated young women view firewood collecting as something for more primitive peoples or for times past, but to the true traditionalist and to conservatives like my sister, it remains their sacred and noble role in the community, the visible evidence of their true beauty and strength.

 

 

 

 

 

Putting a Face on the HIV/AIDS Tragedy in Rural Africa

001According to many statistics, approximately 69% of all people living with HIV/AIDS  are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a serious crisis to many developing nations. Because of the magnitude of HIV-related sickness and death, pain and sorrow is often a part of daily life for those affected and for their relatives. The number of patients admitted to HIV/AIDS wards in hospitals continues to rise, and the number of widows and orphans as a result of AIDS deaths also increases day by day.

Challenges faced

In general, for village communities, the AIDS crisis of downward-spiraling health, death, and creating orphaned or disadvantaged children, is compounded by several issues: the insufficiency of healthcare facilities to deal with with the number of affected individuals;  the inability of people to pay not only for healthcare but even transportation to and from healthcare facilities; and the stigma of HIV/AIDS, which often keeps those infected from seeking treatment. The lack of education in general is another contributing factor for the increasing numbers of HIV-infected individuals in village communities such as ours.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic isn’t pertinent only to the affected individuals; this is a tragedy that effects all of us on the level of our basic humanity.  Untold amounts of money have been invested by governments and non-governmental organizations, with the goal of  equipping health workers and educating the masses. Through this cooperation much has been achieved, but much remains to be accomplished. But let’s back away from the global and even national consequences and look at the individuals and their families.  What happens when families lose their loved ones? What about teen or young adult children that have to nurse and bury their parents?

When parents become too ill to work, to care for the household and even for themselves, it is often children who take on the role of nursing and care giving. Unprepared and untrained, some are forced to drop out of school and seek employment to support their families. Yet, what job will an unsophisticated child  secure? Without education, what opportunities are there for them? Such children are often taken advantage of and even abused; yet, they struggle to care for a family that is falling apart. When the parent dies, these young ones are left orphans and hopeless, often grudgingly taken in by aging or impoverished grandparents, who themselves struggle with the challenges of life. The financial burden of additional mouths to feed, as well as school fees and other expenses, is often too much for the elderly, who typically cannot work themselves. Though in the family-oriented village culture very few would refuse this burden, it is a heavy one to bear.

Perhaps it is not the parents who suffer, but the youth themselves. Like an out-0f-control brush fire, HIV infection is swiftly spreading from the older generation to the younger generation of people age 16 to 35. Because of the stigma of HIV/AIDS, people who suspect they are infected never go for testing, perpetuating the cycle of infection. Education on HIV prevention and treatment are often neglected. Innocent children are born infected from mothers who are sick. Because of their vulnerable position in society, the suffering of children particularly resonates with us when we hear of the ravages of HIV touching them.

Most affected

According to some statistics, of the 23.5 million people living HIV/AIDS  in Sub-Saharan Africa, 3.1 million are children. As we have seen, children suffer both directly and indirectly from the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  They may suffer directly by being infected by a parent. Others suffer indirectly as orphaned and abandoned children; many end up in the streets. Even if family members take them in, oftentimes resources are scarce and they are the first neglected. Or, the stigma of AIDS leads to maltreatment and the streets look more attractive than the current situation.

Let’s put a face to these statistics: just one young girl in our village, Loise Anita (pictured). Her parents both died due to HIV and left her under the care of the grandmother, who is a widow. Although the government provides Antiretroviral (ARV) treatments and some other services free of charge to try to alleviate the effects of AIDS, patients must travel to the District hospital on specified distribution dates in order to receive the benefits. In the case of Loise, her grandmother simply lacks the financial means to do this, therefore compounding the problem.

IMG_0635 Dickson Simiyu (40 years) and his wife Brigit (38 years) are among many couples in this village who are living with HIV/AIDS. They have three young children: Gyan, Densil, and Griffin. So far as testing has revealed to this point, Griffin (4 years) is the only child also living with the virus. It was not until earlier this year, when visiting Kingdom Driven premises for medical and food assistance, that they came to learn of their status. Dickson is a manual laborer and currently able to work, but there is no extra money to take himself, his wife, and his young son into the District hospital on a monthly basis. When an average daily wage is 300 shillings and you’re lucky to feed your family on that, there is no extra 300 shillings once a month for transport. Yet without the medication to maintain his health, Dickson will more quickly lose the ability to work and provide for his family. Certainly, this is a conundrum.

 

What is the Role of KDM?

Though KDM does not have a formally recognized HIV/AIDS program, we have been moved to assist many HIV-infected folks whose paths we have crossed.  Some of these people have surrendered to Christ and been baptized in our fellowships. Within the last year or so, we’ve lost two sisters in the Lord: Violet, wife to David,  and Irene, a young girl of 20 years who we suspect was infected of unknown origin at a young age. One of our small house churches currently has several infected disciples: a widow with numerous children, two widowers with children, and a 14 year-old boy, Daniel. Others have been brought to our attention through community interactions. What do we do to help them?

  • Transport assistance. This is the primary support that we consistently provide. Though it is KDM policy not to give money directly for expressed needs, we call on several of our church’s wazee (“old men”) or our ordained deacons to travel with patients to the hospital on the day given for them to pick up their medications.
  • Food assistance. Though we don’t have an established food program for families of HIV patients (as we do for the malnourished children), we do what we can to provide supplemental nutritious food to those suffering with HIV.
  • Spiritual guidance and discipleship are a high priority. Giving them hope for each day, and true hope for the future, is where they can find peace.
  • Raising awareness to prevent infection and spreading. One of our longest-running disciples and one of our local fellowship’s deacons, Silas, has recently been working with KDM to develop an HIV awareness program that he would like to implement in our community.   He  has begun connecting with government and other organizations to make this possible. His goal, along with KDM, is to raise approximately $1000 to develop a DVD-based curriculum to present to secondary school students, which is a growing, at-risk group. This training will provide HIV education in combination with Kingdom-based spiritual teachings and and an emphasis on abstinence. We are so excited as we look forward to working with Silas and other members of his group, known as Youth Light Group, to give light and hope to our community.

In a recent interview with Silas, he expressed his deep and sincere concern  for the future generation. This is what he shared:

“My vision and mission is to save the future generation. We must teach and educate the young people; they need to be aware of the disease because it is killing our people every day. People must understand the danger and tragedy caused by HIV. We cannot sit aside and look, we need to do something.”

We need to do something. The time is now. KDM is playing only a small part, and we hope to increase that impact into the future. Please keep all these efforts in your prayers. Pray for the many individuals and families affected by the AIDS crisis here. If you wish to donate financially toward this effort, visit www.KingdomDriven.org/donate.

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Brigit, our Mzee Samwell, brother Silas, and Dickson

 

 

Village Life: Water and Fire, Part 1

Water and fire are basic necessities for every people group under the sun. In this case, water and fire are not in reference to the baptism of water and fire, which also are very necessary  requirements to living a Kingdom life; rather, I am referring to normal water and real fire. It is written in the ancient Wisdom of Sirach, “Basic to all the needs of man’s life are water and fire and iron and salt and wheat flour and milk and honey, the blood of the grape, and oil and clothing” (Ecclesiasticus 39:26).

In the developed world, the subjects of water and fire are not something that consume one’s thoughts. The basic needs of life are typically very well meet and satisfied in various forms due to modern technology and new inventions. The crucial importance of fire and water in daily life, therefore, is not even highly recognized. Yet here in Africa, such considerations are pertinent to everyday living, and the acquisition of these basic elements is a tough labor of it own. The amount of time and energy that is invested in fetching water and collecting firewood is not something that the average Westerner considers, but it is indeed a good portion of time spent in the  life of a typical village Mama.

In many African communities, the responsibility for the provision of the basic needs referenced in the Wisdom of Sirach is divided equally between men and women. Men typically insure that their families have food, clothing and shelter, while women usually see to the household needs for water and firewood. Today, we’ll look at water, next time, wood for fuel.

How is water collected? Where is it fetched from? Are these places safe and clean for consumption?  In many villages in developing countries (including ours), water is collected from rivers or natural springs, or gathered from rain water.

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A natural spring

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The health department provides bleach dispensers at many water collection sites

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Many natural sources of water, though used regularly, are not clean for human consumption and can present a health risk to the villagers. The springs may be uncovered or unprotected, in which case they can be susceptible to contamination leading to disease outbreaks. In our village, for example, we had three open springs of water for the entire community (above pictures). Many people who came to us with acute medical needs were treated for diseases like malaria, typhoid, and cholera, all of which can be linked to these natural water sources. This is only one aspect of consideration in the process of collecting water for daily use.

Besides the concern for the cleanliness of the water, consideration is also given to investment of time and the necessity of health and strength for the task. Many people collect rainwater, but the amount (especially in dry season) is usually insufficient for the day’s requirements. Many liters are needed for washing clothes, bathing, drinking, preparing food, and general house cleaning. Needs multiply if animals need water as well. Depending on the size of the family, water use can be on the order of hundreds of liters. (For example, when the Carriers did not yet have indoor running water and were fetching daily from the neighborhood spring, they had a 240 L tank in the kitchen. At least half of it was used each day, oftentimes more.)

Carrying water

Carrying water

If a water source is close by, a woman may spend a minimal 20 minutes walking back and forth and filling her container (up to 20 L, or about 5 gallons, can be carried on her head!). This often needs to be done more than once, but the investment of time to fill the day’s water needs may still be less than an hour. If the water source is far away, the time is, of course, multiplied. Sometimes, Mama works at home while her children fetch water. They can carry appreciably less, so they may spend hours carrying what their mother would do in one or two  short trips. A woman who is ill of health may need her children to do the work or may depend on neighbors to help her, which can be burdensome to others or simply leave her with her needs unmet. For example, one elderly grandmother in the area suffered from HIV in its late stages, yet was caring for several grandchildren. To conserve her water supply, she washed dishes in a basin of water, then allowed each of the children to use it for bathing in turn, then left it outside for her chickens.

All of these considerations were part of the decision for Kingdom Driven Ministries (KDM) to install a borehole and pump in a high-traffic, public location in the Carriers’ village. This has indeed been a blessing–as a time-saver for the village Mamas who struggle so much to meet this daily need, and also as a means of reducing water-born illnesses.

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No matter what time of day you visit, the village pump is rarely idle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A second borehole and pump were recently installed in a neighboring village.

 

 

 

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Testing the new pump

 

 

 

 

 

Next time, a look at collecting wood for fuel, another major investment of time for our village Mamas.

 

Reagan

 

Kingdom Driven Ministries welcomes Reagan Simiyu as a contributing author to the blog.