Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kitopia Akuj Iyong

For those of you in or near the Birmingham area, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to speak at Riverchase United Methodist Church this Sunday, August 14th, at 9:45 AM about my internship this summer & the work God is doing in Turkana district of Kenya.  Coffee and snacks will be provided.  If you are in the area and are interested, then please know that you are welcome to come.  We will be meeting in the church gymnasium (where SonDay Live meets) & the address is listed below: 

1953 Old Montgomery Highway
Hoover, AL 35244

Sitting here in Destin, FL, looking out at the ocean, it’s hard to believe that less than 2 weeks ago I was eating beans & maize & sleeping in a mosquito net in the Turkana bush.  It’s crazy to think that less than a month ago I was watching similar waves crash into the shore of the Kenyan coast in Malindi.  This summer flew by, and part of me still wonders if it was only a dream.  Gene (my host missionary) warned me about this before I left.  He said I’d probably get back to the States & start thinking, “Was I really in Africa this summer?”  He was right!

It’s been nice to get a few days to relax with my family here in Destin before getting back into the grind of school. I always enjoy just sitting on the beach & watching the waves crash into the shore.  There’s something about staring into something so vast, something so much bigger than me.  It always helps put things in perspective & remind me just how BIG God truly is.  As a kid, I always viewed the Gulf of Mexico as this endless body of water, completely unaware that there were people on the other side staring at a similar stretch of scenery.  In a way, the Gulf of Mexico was a border to my own little world, my “American Island.”  

But as I look into the ocean now, I realize that beyond the horizon, there are people on another coast also being reminded of the grandness of God as they stare at a similar ocean horizon.  On the other side of the ocean, there are people—real people—carrying out lives very similar to you & me.  Right now, off the coast of Kenya, there are families relaxing & swimming in the Indian Ocean, enjoying a vacation at the beach just like my family.  But I also know that the lives of many people beyond the horizon are anything but a vacation.  While there may be people along the Eastern Coast of Kenya enjoying a relaxing “holiday” at the beach, the Turkana of Northwest Kenya are in the midst of a three year drought & severe famine.  People like my friend Sammy and his family are struggling to gather enough money together to buy food.  And while it breaks my heart to even think about Sammy having to go hungry, I know that there are people in Turkana that have it even worse off than him.  There are families—people just like you and me—literally starving to death.  And these people need our prayers, and they need our help.  

It’s easy to stare the ocean and think that we live on an island.  We live in self-seeking culture that tells us that the world revolves around us.  However, my experience in Turkana taught me otherwise.  I learned more than ever that there are suffering people in the world that are in desperate need of help.  I no longer see the ocean as this giant divider of “us” & “them”.  It’s more of a connection, a link reminding us that we’re all in this together, that we are all God’s children.  And that link also reminds me that people aren’t only suffering beyond the horizon.  There are people going hungry & thirsty—both physically & spiritually—here  in the States as well.  

We live in a world full of broken people, and the suffering in the world can sometimes seem overwhelming.  Like the ocean horizon, the problems in Turkana, Mathare Valley, & other parts of the world can seem endless.  But when the waves seem too fierce & the water too dangerous, let’s not forget that we serve a Savior who calmed the seas & walked across the waves.  As I’ve been reminded time and time again by my Turkana friends this summer, “Nothing is impossible with God!”

Thank you so much for joining me in this adventure this past summer.   I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my stories & sharing in these experiences.  Though my “adventure” in Kenya has ended, the ministry I was blessed to briefly be a part of continues, & God is doing some amazing things through it.  God’s using missionaries like Gene & Melba to tell His love story to the world, & it’s an adventure far better than anything we could fabricate on our own.

What part is he asking you to play in His story?  We each have a unique role to play.  Maybe he’s calling you to Northwest Kenya?  Maybe he’s calling you somewhere else in the world?  Or maybe he’s calling you to stay in the States?  In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus talks about feeding the hungry, providing for the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick, visiting those in prison.  And in verse 40, he says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

You don’t have to go halfway around the world to serve in God’s kingdom.  There are needs all around us & we are all called to serve.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can help play a part in the work God’s doing in Turkana, please let me know.   

What part is God asking you to play in His story?  Maybe it starts with something simple.  Maybe it starts with… a cup of cold water.

Thanks for sharing in this experience this past summer.  Please continue to pray for the work God is doing in Turkana.  

Kitopia Akuj Iyong! (God Bless You!)


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