“This is the Way we Wash our Clothes…”

In many parts of the world men and women are assigned specific duties and responsibilities, according to their gender roles. Life is duty and duty is part of our daily life. We have various tasks that are a permanent part of our “to-do” list; they can’t be neglected or there will be consequences! Domestic duties are a focal point for every healthy family, no matter what part of the globe you live on. And what duty in more delightful than laundry? Doing laundry is the way to cleanliness and cleanliness is second to godliness! Of course, here in Kenya, the process is slightly different than in the West.

019In Western countries, laundry  is typically done in specific rooms or places set apart for the task–like the “laundry room.” Washing is not usually a big deal, due to the availability of washing machines and even dryers. But in our small villages the task of washing is a bit more arduous and requires a significant investment of time and effort.

This work is typically regarded as a feminine role and unsuitable for men. In the past few years, however, this notion has been undergoing changes in some places, as both men and women are now cooperating in putting bread on the table, leaving men with no excuse for shunning the task. Sometimes these families will hire a day laborer to do wash if they do not do it themselves. Laundry washers are paid based on the number of  family members; if the family has many children it implies that many clothes are to be washed, and the more the clothes, the higher the wage.

In families where the man is a bread-winner, the task of laundry is relegated solely to the woman who remains behind to take care of the house and children. In past days, laundry was done in rivers and other water courses, allowing the dirt and stains on clothes to be carried away by the water. This is still practiced in many villages of Africa and Asia. Washing in this way makes laundry easier and faster for the village dwellers; they don’t have to fetch water for washing, and they can use the rocks that are already there. Clothes are rubbed, twisted and slapped against the rocks, making it easier to remove the dirt and stains with little strain and pain. Sometimes wooden clubs could be applied to help in beating out of the garments. In regions where rivers and water courses are not available, laundry is done using plastic basins or metal cauldrons.

Various chemical detergents are used in laundry, such as solid soaps, liquid soaps and powder soaps, based on the financial ability of the family. Most villages families use solid and powder soaps to do washing, due to their availability and affordability. Here in Kenya the common soaps are: Jamaa bar soap, Ushindi bar soap, Sunlight washing soap, Omo powder, Toss washing powder and many other brands of soaps. These are available at local dukas (shops), since they are regularly used. However, in contrast to Western practices, very small quantities are purchased (about 10 or 20 grams, a single-use measure) rather than bulk quantities. At 5 or 10 shillings per packet, families usually buy only what they need–this might be all the extra money they have.

If using a basin, clothes are rubbed on themselves to remove simple stains; a brush may be used for more ground-in stains. Even if washing powder is used, bar soap is usually applied to stains for added cleaning power. Once the linens and clothes are clean and well rinsed, they are twisted firmly to remove most of the water. Then they are hung up on poles or clotheslines to dry, or spread out on clean grass or along hedges.

022

021

In many slums here in Kenya, the population is disproportionately widows and orphans, who often are unemployed and unqualified for high-paying jobs, due to lack of school education. Their only hope and way of making a living may be to do wash for the “rich folks.” Based on the size and number of the family members, their wages are typically 200 to 500 Ksh ($2 to $5) per day. A village employee may receive less than that.

024

There you have it: another look at Kenya village life. Laundry is just one of the tasks that here, as in the West, is an unavoidable part of everyday life.

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.

 

016

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

018

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.

037

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

010

011

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.

013

003

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.

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).

068

 

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.

 

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.

IMG_0639

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.

019

A natural spring

025

The health department provides bleach dispensers at many water collection sites

030028

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

015

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160218_142125

 

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

 

 

 

20160218_142514

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.

 

 

Testimony of Faith through Deeds

20160216_120122Mzee Erasto, age 56, is the father of eight children and the grandfather of Eliya and Abigail (two of the children in our malnourished program). He is also one among many wazee (“older men”)  in our house church network. How did this man come to the knowledge of God? What prompted him to seek salvation? This man saw faith in deed and believed.

Mzee Erasto was bitter and sour in heart. His daily life was full of adversities and hard problems; indeed he was in great distress. Being a breadwinner and a father of eight children was a big and unhappy task for him, keeping in mind that he had no job and means to sustain his family. He was in despair and concerned especially about two of his grandchildren, as their health was deteriorating day by day. They were children of his daughter, Robbies, who had been married but returned home in disgrace because of mental health issues. She had obviously struggled to care for the children; they had developmental delays and were severely malnourished. When she returned to her home community, the whole family was ridiculed. Neighbors asked among themselves, “Where will they bury these children? They don’t even have a shamba [farm]!” This only added to Mzee Erasto’s burden. How did he come to see the Kingdom of God through all this?

Eliya and Abigail were first discovered by the Sweazys, the missionary family who sojourned here for a little while before moving to Uganda. When they came across these needy little ones, they took them in their house and shared the love of Christ with them. To Mzee Erasto this was not an ordinary thing; it was something not of this world. Truly to him they were good Samaritans sent by God to answer his deep secret prayer.

”My prayer was that if God would be merciful and remember these little children, and restore their health, then I will serve and love the Lord God with my house,” said Mzee Erasto. Did God listen to this man’s prayer? Was he answered and granted his desire? Of course yes, the Lord granted the request through His servants. Truly this man came to believe that this is a permanent law: ask and you will receive.

After a few weeks of visiting the local fellowship and attending the weekly wazee meetings, Mzee Erasto was moved and greatly touched by the ways and simplicity of the brethren. During one of the fellowship meetings, he stood and declared, “I have met people who are not of the world. I have met people of God, and I want to be one of them.” So our dear brother Silas shared the message of the Kingdom and planted the seed of truth. Mzee Erasto was guided through repentance, and eventually baptism. The Words of Christ resonated with him: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Mzee Erasto’s life was changed and transformed, his heart softened and sweetened by the love of God. His eternal gratitude is to the brothers and sisters who made this miracle a reality, and above all to the great God and Father who is in Heaven.

“I am so happy every day when I see my grandchildren looking just like other children. I am very grateful to the people who unselfishly helped us. Now we have food at home and the truth of the Gospel. I am a poor man and I cannot repay all the people who helped my grandchildren and other children, but God will repay them. I will always repay them in prayers,” said Mzee Erasto. This man is overjoyed that now his neighbors see the work of God in the lives of his children and grandchildren. Even Robbies has miraculously improved, working at home and helping to care for her children. He looks forward to Abigail and Eliya being able to attend school just like other children, something he had previously not thought possible.

The Kingdom Driven community also thanks all of you brothers and sisters for you great help and donations, for enabling us to serve and help the people around us. Every single dollar donated in the spirit of LOVE is an immortal dollar; every dollar that can be converted into LOVE is eternal treasure.

 

Reagan

 

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

 

Community Clean Water Project

For quite some time, villagers not too far from where the Carriers live were asking if KDM could build for them a water well so that they could have access to clean water. They persisted in their asking, perhaps to show that they knew the command to “pray without ceasing.” (Or, maybe to bring to mind the parable of the persistent widow?) The Lord was good and He granted them a clean water well. Women were spared the long journey seeking for clean water and were able to utilize their time meeting other demands of home life. Lo! Their joy was not to last long,  due to some underground problems which resulted in the collapsing of the well, and therefore the hope of the people collapsed too.

We thank God for recently providing a donor and well-wisher who took upon himself the financial burden of restoring the water well, and thus restoring the hopes of the villagers. We thank the Heavenly Father for responding to the cries and meeting the needs of his people in miraculous ways through his own people. A few photos of the work in progress are below. Several men (some from one of our sister fellowships here) did the dangerous work of climbing into the 50-foot borehole to re-excavate the soil that had fallen in. Other laborers from the community assisted with the brickwork (to prevent the same problem from re-occurring). And for a couple of days, as many as 10-12 in the village were offered day labor (helping to remove the water as it rapidly filled the borehole), which permitted the diggers to go down *just* a little further. We’re at about 50 feet with a decent amount of water, and, praise the Lord, the project is almost finished!

 

Reagan

 

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

“I followed happiness to make her mine…”

As it is written, service to the poor and needy is nothing besides service to the Lord Jesus himself (see Matthew 25). It is our delight and honor to be His hands and feet in meeting and solving problems of the people around us, both in the Kingdom and outside the Kingdom. To share what we have with “the least of the these,” is in accordance with the Great Commandment. Last week at the KDM office (the hub of village activity where folks in need usually know to come), we received a number of widows and old people who were seeking food and medical assistance. People asking for help at this time of the year is not surprising, since here food availability is seasonal. People have a lot during harvest season (which has now past), and as soon as the season is over then acquiring “daily bread” becomes more of a struggle.

I believe our greatest happiness can only be attained when the basic needs of the poor and needy are attended to: food, clothing, and clean water especially. Many men and women are rushing hither and thither in a blind search for happiness, seeking from the things of the world, and cannot attain it; nor will they, until they recognize that happiness is already within their reach and around them:

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.'” (Luke 17:20-21)

 

These beautiful lines of Burleigh’s express the secret of all abounding happiness. Sacrifice the personal and transient, and you rise at once into the everlasting Kingdom of Christ Jesus:

I followed happiness to make her mine,
Past towering oak and swinging ivy vine.
She fled, I chased, over slanting hill and dale,
Over fields and meadows, in the purpling vale.

Pursuing rapidly over dashing stream,
I scaled dizzy cliffs where the eagles scream;
I traversed swiftly every land and sea,
But always happiness eluded me.

Exhausted, fainting, I pursued no more,
But sank to rest upon the barren shore.

One came and asked for food, and one for alms;
I placed the bread and gold in bony palms;
One came for sympathy, and one for rest;
I shared with every needy one my best;
When lo! sweet Happiness, with form divine,
Stood by me, whispering softly, “I am thine.”

 

 

 

 

Reagan

 

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