"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God's plan - Malindi #1

I’ve discovered in the past couple of months that when God wants you to do something, He makes it happen. I’ve known since the beginning that this time in Kenya was going to be dedicated to me finding guidance and direction from the Lord. I didn’t have the slightest clue where God was going to lead me but I knew he would, so I listened closely.

I was sitting in an Internet cafe the day I was going to be leaving for Meru to visit Jackson when my Spirit became alert. I stopped what I was doing and prayed. “Jesus, what do you want me to do?” “Be ready.” Be ready? Be ready for what? Oh crap, is our night bus going to be robbed tonight? Am I going to have a crazy adventure courtesy of the Enemy? What do I need to be ready for? My mind raced all day. I just felt like I needed to be aware of something but I had no idea what to look out for.

It wasn’t until we got settled onto the bus and began driving that I shared with Nate how I was feeling. “I’ve been feeling the same way all day,” he replied. Great! So now I’m really nervous! I prayed a lot during that bus ride for safety and guidance. When we got to Nairobi, nothing had happened. The travel had been painless and easy as far as travel in Kenya goes. Confusion and frustration set in because I couldn’t find peace.

Still on edge, we sat down for breakfast at the Java House. During a conversation over French toast and lattes, my Spirit finally calmed. God wanted me to work with prostitutes.

My time in Meru was spent mostly thinking about what God had just revealed to me. I realized that He wasn’t telling me to be aware of danger but to be aware His voice and the small piece of direction that He was about to provide me with that day. God’s initial word was confirmed while I was Meru through many different ways. The pastor of Jackson’s church brought up a conversation with me on our walk to Jackson’s house about prostitutes. He shared with me how a lot of people come to Kenya thinking that giving out money will solve everything, but what really needs to be focused on is the “poverty of the heart.” He said that he has asked some girls if they would leave the lifestyle if given enough money to start a business so they could make money without selling their bodies. Most said that they would not stop. The lack of money is not the only cause of prostitution in Kenya. The lack of respect for oneself, the absence of real love, the feelings of desperation and hopelessness are why these girls are out on the streets at night. After returning to Nairobi, I talked with another Kenyan man who is a close friend of Daniel’s. He said that prostitutes are more likely to listen to young people like themselves rather than pastors or the usual sort that is trying to save them. They feel less judged by a young person and are more likely to open up and talk with them. This was an encouragement that I needed. Being young, there is always that doubt in the back of your mind that no one will take you seriously. Hearing that young people is exactly what is needed for this type of ministry helped me overcome that nagging fear.

But I am stubborn with God. I mean, I am really stubborn with Him! “Confirm this, Lord,” I prayed over and over. In other words... “Prove it! I don’t believe you! This is ridiculous. How am I supposed to do this? Now you’re just being silly.” Still, I couldn’t fight the peace I was feeling and by the time I got back to Kitale, I had almost fully accepted it in my heart but I was still fighting for more confirmation.

The whole next week was spent in prayer and deep thought about where I felt God was taking me. It was the last week that the guys would all be Kitale because they were going to Malindi for their last week in Kenya to tie up some loose ends from their month spent there earlier in the year. I was trying to spend time with them but my mind was elsewhere. I couldn’t stop picturing myself in Malindi.

I was trying not to think about it because I was sure it was only on my mind because Andrew, Nate and Scott were leaving on Monday, but I couldn’t shake the thought. I didn’t dare bring it up to the guys because this was their trip and I was not included in the original planning. I settled on asking Nate to look around for me while he was there and see if it would be a place I could possibly be useful. He told me that he had already been planning on doing so, which was nice to hear.

The Friday before they were to leave the boys were being super shady and having a meeting in the back bedroom. I didn’t think much of it until they came out and asked me if I could come back because they had something they wanted to talk to me about. In my head, all I could think of was the scene in Finding Nemo where they have to have an intervention for the shark. “Fish are friends. Not food.” Not sure why this played in my head… but it did and I giggled to myself as I walked into the room and sat down in semi-awkward silence.

“So we’ve been thinking,” Nate began speaking on behalf of the group. I looked around at the guys. None of them looked like they were about to dump some terrible news on me, but I wasn’t about to be sure of anything yet. He continued to tell me how it had been on his heart ever since we talked in Java House for me to come to Malindi. I was stunned but somehow not surprised. God had put this on my heart as well and now He was just confirming His plans AGAIN. I would have been a fool to keep questioning Him. The guys told me that they had just discussed it, prayed about it and asked Daniel (the director of TI) if he thought it was an okay idea. After all of that, they decided to ask me if I wanted to go. Of course, I said yes. I was glad that God confirmed my thoughts through the men and their willingness to allow me to come along.

Now here is the best “God is so cool” moment in this whole experience… There were three things that needed to happen before I could officially go. 1) My parents needed to be okay with me traveling across the country and living in the slums with strangers for four days. 2) Faith had to say it was okay for me to take a week away from working with the girls. And 3) we had to check with Nate and Scott’s friend in Malindi to be sure that there was a place for me to stay because they hadn’t told him I would be coming yet. Since I’m a girl, I obviously couldn’t stay in the same room with all the guys. While I was on the phone with Faith talking to her about everything (she was in Nairobi dropping her boyfriend, Rick, off at the airport), Nate was on the phone with Martin, his contact and friend in Malindi. I came back in the house and all the guys were in the sitting room. I was about to tell them that Faith was on board when Nate stopped me. “Listen to this,” he said with a huge smile. “So when we told Martin that Drew was going to be coming with us, he wasn’t sure if Drew was a boy or a girl so he already made arrangements for a girl to come!” I was in awe. My mouth literally dropped open. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “You really do want me to go, Lord. Okay, I believe you now.” After hearing that I already had a bed waiting for me in Martin’s sister’s room, I was pretty sure what to expect from my parents when I called them. In less than an hour, all three things were taken care of and I was officially headed to Malindi.

My heart leaped at the thought of being able to talk to people there, hear their stories and help shed some light into their lives. Even if I was only going to be there for a few days, I knew that this trip would affect my life somehow. God had obviously arranged this down to the last detail and I was eager to see what He had in store.

How things went in Malindi will be my next blog :)

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