In 2002, a group of pastors were in Nairobi, Kenya. They were in the Kawangware slum. It was bad. Worse than bad. They stood in the most awful part, where garbage was dumped, drugs were sold, women were raped, and dead bodies were found. It was called “Hell’s Hole” for a reason.
The men stood together, overwhelmed with what they saw. They knew they couldn’t do everything but they decided that they would do everything they could. There was a desperate need for hope. That’s what they could bring and build for the people in Kawangware! Those pastors began to dream of possibilities.
I had heard the story and had even seen a stirring video of David Janney in the Kawangware slum. I remember hearing him say he wanted to “push back the slum”. That’s what they did! They ARE pushing it back with hope and the love of Jesus.
Today, on that ground, stands Hope Church and World Hope Academy where 600-plus students are taught and served two meals each day. Since the year 2002, 8,000 students have come through WHA. David Janney, Founder and President of World Hope, calls them “hopers and dreamers”.
Each year, World Hope has a medical clinic in the Hope Church. Our summer is Kenya’s winter so lots of the people are sick. It is the only time most of the WHA students see a doctor during the year. Many in the community around the church, in the slum, are also able to see a doctor there.
For the last five years, mission teams from our church traveled across the pond to aid in the medical clinic. I was concerned about the Kenyan people, really, I was. I prayed for the missionaries as they departed and while they were gone. I prayed for God to meet their needs and keep them safe. And He did. They told wonderful stories when they came home. Not once did I ask God if I should go. It was too far for me.
But in January, as I was praying for God to build this year’s mission team, He threw a monkey wrench into my very comfortable life. He. Wanted. Me. To. Go. Too. After feeling His stirring, I began to pray for His absolute direction. While some prayers take DECADES to answer, He took care of THIS prayer within 24 hours. I laid out important and specific requests to know His will, never speaking to anyone about it. I just prayed. He moved and spoke…CLEARLY.
This year from our church, we had a doctor, a physician assistant, a nurse, two pharmacists and their support staff going. We also had an electrician that would take care of some needs at the school. And me. I’m not medical nor do I work with electricity. What could I do? They said they had a place for me.
I prayed for flexibility, both physically and spiritually. I would be sleeping in a strange place, eating strange food and snoring in front of friends and strangers. With excitement and a little nervousness I packed my bags.
I couldn’t do everything, but this time, I would do everything I could...putting feet on my prayers.
Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.