(Part 4 of 6)
Since its inception in 2008, Chrio Communities has been blessed by a friendship with the community of Njuruta, Kenya through a Christian, relief and development organization called Food for the Hungry (FH). While Njuruta is a community of immense faith and joy, they also have great need. Poverty has created systemic issues like hunger, easily preventable disease, lack of education, lack of clean water, and much more. And yet their resilience and gratitude never cease to amaze us. Through the facilitation of both American and Kenyan FH staff, our church family partners with Njuruta to help the community move toward a self-sustainable and spiritually healthy future.
One of the ways we do this is through child sponsorships. The education, health, and general well-being of children in any community is paramount for the future flourishing of that community. Njuruta is no exception. The money we give through child sponsorships goes primarily toward children’s education and local FH staff, whose thoughtful, consistent, compassionate presence in the community provides not only helpful and up-to-date needs assessments for the community in general, but also relational investment into the lives of the community’s children.
Another way we serve our friends in Njuruta is through team mission trips. You can read my personal reflections from our most recent trip here (we also have a team report and video). While much of the value of these trips resides in fostering and enjoying a close-knit relationship between our church and Njuruta, our team this past year was able to serve and engage with the community in a variety of ways:
- We led a training seminar for the community’s leaders, giving special attention to the importance of trust and teamwork. We also celebrated areas of success, including specific community development activities (benevolence, brick-making, income-sharing, etc.).
- We trained their Sunday school teachers and provided curriculum. We then got to model said curriculum by teaching two Bible lessons to the children.
- With the special help of one of our team members, Dr. Oliver Oatman, we partnered with FH staff and local medical specialists to provide a free medical camp and hygiene clinic for everyone in the community.
- We got to personally meet our sponsor children, which was an incredible experience.
- We also enjoyed playing and celebrating together. We devoted an entire day to recreation. And our team had the privilege of being present for the ceremonial opening of a new classroom. What was unique about this classroom is that it was constructed out of bricks that the community members themselves made. Inspired by Chrio’s gift of a brick-making machine, clay bricks have become not only a tangible way for the community to invest into their own children’s education, but it will hopefully prove to be a viable source of income as well.
While the relationship we have with our friends in Njuruta, Kenya is rooted in reciprocal blessing, our aim is to help provide holistic, long-term impact and hope for a flourishing future. So here’s the question: Why Kenya? As a church community, why do we choose to provide tangible glimmers of hope for this small, East-African village?
Simply put: Because this is what God is like. The Gospel according to Luke tells a famous story about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Location: Nazareth. Occasion: the weekly synagogue worship gathering. Jesus stands up and reads an ancient prophesy about a coming messiah, sent by God, who will “proclaim good news to the poor…freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind…” This messiah will “set the oppressed free” and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19). Jesus then sits down and says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words Jesus was saying, “I’m that guy.” He then went from town to town, preaching “the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43).
But Jesus not only preached what it will look like when God becomes king; he embodied it. As Luke’s version tells it, Jesus embarked upon a rampage of restoration: he healed people from physical ailments, including a paralyzed man (5:17-26), a woman suffering from chronic bleeding (8:42-48), a crippled woman (13:10-17), ten men with leprosy (17:11-19), and a blind man (18:35-43); he rescued people from spiritual oppression by forgiving sins (5:17-26) and casting out demons (4:31-37; 8:26-39; 9:37-43; 11:14); he literally calmed a storm (8:22-25 ); he fed those who were hungry (9:10-17); he challenged social (4:27-32; 7:36-50), economic (19:45-48), and racial (10:25-37) injustice; and he brought a young girl back from the dead (8:40-56). Luke’s gospel climaxes with one final restorative act, when Jesus himself – after being killed and buried – rises from the dead. As you read this summary of Jesus’ public ministry, notice the one theme from which this beautiful confluence of diverse activities emanates: creation restoration.
The story of Jesus unveils a God who is deeply passionate about restoring the entire creation, every square inch. Jesus not only told people what kind of king God is, he showed them by providing tangible glimpses of restored life under God’s reign. And so should we. And while his actions, driven by love, certainly met immediate and tangible needs, they ultimately accomplished something much bigger. They provided glimmers of hope, signposts pointing toward that future day when God’s kingdom will come in full and all things broken will be remade, better than before.
Similarly, by partnering with our friends in Kenya, we seek to be pointing toward that same future, reflecting that same God; a God who will one day completely eradicate things like hunger, easily preventable disease, lack of education, lack of clean water, and so much more. Therefore, we pray thus for our friends: May God’s kingdom come, his will be done, in Njuruta as it is in heaven.
Why Kenya? Because this is what God is like.
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Or visit my church’s website at http://www.chriocommunities.com