Kenya’s the Key

“How do I get this open?” I fiddled with the colorful Africa-shaped gift box in the Kenyan marketplace.

A smiling worker hustled over to help. “Kenya’s the key,” he said, and he pointed to the u-shaped country on the map. “Pull that piece out, and the box will open.”

I did what he said, and sure enough, the lid slid right off!

Kenya’s the key.

God often uses obscure words and phrases to focus my attention on his kingdom work, and this phrase won’t leave me. I think of keys as little metal instruments to open doors, but aren’t there also “keys” that open up special places in our hearts?

Kenya was that key for me.

A sign in the Nairobi airport proclaims “Kenya, The Land of Unlimited Possibilities.”

Today, seven weeks after returning from my mission trip, and still fingering the red, green, and black- beaded bracelet made for me by a sweet Kenyan girl—I smile because I totally believe it.

It’s possible for a child living in the poorest slums of Korogocho to become a thriving adult who now helps other children escape poverty. His name is Saul. He and his wife Shelby run the His Little Feet ministry (a CrossCity missions partner) in Nairobi.

It’s possible for a couple from Texas to obey God’s call, uproot their family, and become part of the solution to Kenya’s orphan crisis. Their names are Bob and Julie Mendonza, the founders of Naomi’s Village Children’s Home and Cornerstone Preparatory Academy in Mai Mahiu. Our sponsored girl, Emily, belongs to the Naomi’s Village family and now has hope for a bright future.

It’s possible for married couples to choose to leave the comfort of their own Kenyan home and become full-time house parents for at-risk children. Their names are Solomon, Serah, Josephat, Louise, Tom, Emmy, Duncan, Joan, Lawrence, Linet, Felix, Noel, Dickson, and Maximilia. They’re making an eternal impact at the Stand by Me mission in Eldoret.

It’s possible for a woman to receive a microfinance loan, open a roadside business, and fund her child’s education. It’s possible for talented and creative young adults to pursue lucrative careers so they can give back to their Kenyan communities. It’s possible for an abandoned preteen girl to use her beautiful singing voice to bless thousands.

Is there still poverty in Kenya? Oh yes. 7.8 million people live in extreme poverty. Hunger? Of course, it’s poverty’s cruel partner. Crime’s an evil step-sister, too. Approximately 3.6 million Kenyan children are orphaned or vulnerable due to situations such as family breakdown, abandonment, or political conflict.
When I dwell on those numbers, tears flow, their saltiness stinging my soul, threatening despair.

But Jesus is in Kenya too, and he never stops working through faithful people who answer his call to bring dignity, hope, and salvation to his precious children in this beautiful country. I personally witnessed him in action through all those mentioned above, and through our Kenya ’23 Mission Team! All ten of us, ages ranging from 10 to 62, experienced God working through us in ways we could have never imagined:

  •  Hanging out with kids at the His Little Feet Community Center.
    Sharing worship songs and testimonies at the His Little Feet church plant for young
  •  Leading worship on Sunday morning at Africa Inland Church in Nairobi, and afterward sharing a meal at the pastor’s house, where we were able to encourage and pray for each other.
  • Reading with school kids, leading outdoor PE sessions, sharing crafts, songs, and dances with kids during night sessions, and playing with once-abandoned babies in the Stand by Me baby house.
  • Conducting eight hours of marriage seminars, and spending significant one-on-one time with the Stand by Me house parents.
  • Touring the Stand by Me sustainability projects, including the farm and water treatment center, and witnessing first-hand how their loan program to women in the surrounding villages is not only providing basic needs, but is enabling them to use their God-given talents to help their families.
  •  Rejoicing with all the people who are working tirelessly to build strong, faith-filled, future leaders of Kenya.

And, just like Jesus always does, he not only worked through us, He worked in us. All of us were challenged in personal ways. All of us stretched. We relied on God’s power each step of the way, and our hearts will never be the same. When I think about all that, I praise our great and marvelous God, and tears flow again, but now they taste like joy.

Kenya’s not just the key—it is key. To God, and to us.

Definition: Key (adj.): Extremely or crucially important.

What possibilities does Kenya hold for you? If you’d like to find out, join CrossCity Missions on the next Africa trip! Karibu Kenya!