Updated: Jun 26, 2019
As a follow-up to last Christmas’ message about Zechariah, Mary and the shepherds’ fear in response to angelic appearances, I invited the children to talk about their fears in the past several months since the new year began.
“We were afraid of being burned in our houses,” said one.
“We hid under our beds,” said another, giggling.
“We are afraid of the Mugiki,” said Muchina. The Mugiki are a terrorising sect comprising members from a particular tribe. They have a penchant for decapitating their victims, killing them.
“We did not eat food for four days. We drank only water,” said Twili.
“Our parents had to go shopping (i.e looting) because all the shops (in Kibera slum) were closed, and we could not buy any food,” said Jameson.
The stories went on. Some of the children were half-laughing, not because of any humour, but from relief in expressing their innermost thoughts. If there were to be heroes, I think these Compassion-sponsored children and all the children who survived the violence in Kibera would well qualify.
On April 16, we finally met with 22 Compassion-sponsored children for our “Easter” party (much belated because of insecurity in Kibera, following the disputed presidential elections and consequent delays in schools starting); even so, that very morning, it looked as if our party might not materialise. Many matatu operators (public transport) stayed off the roads for fear of the Mungiki.
Dark clouds had begun forming by 7:30 that morning, threatening a heavy tropical downpour. “If things could go wrong, it will in Africa,” I thought to myself. The social worker arrived late at Shadrach Kilaliel School, our meeting point, because public transport was scarce coming from Kikuyu to Nairobi. The children arrived late because the social worker had arrived late and they had to wait for him in the Laini Saba project to accompany them to our rendezvous. Then the children from the Olympic project were delayed because there were too few matatus plying their route. Sigh.
“Will this party take off? Why can’t people just keep time? What encouragement can I give them? These children have experienced what 'normal' children we know would never experience in their short life time. What hope can I offer?” These thoughts raced through my mind as I struggled with growing impatience and sliding punctuality.
From a distance, I saw them approaching finally. Children smiling. They were happy they could come to a party. They were happy to be able to play Captain’s Ball, receive gifts, eat Jungle Camp chocolate cake (which never seemed enough), write thank you notes to their sponsors, sing songs and laugh.
Then it hit me. I have it all wrong. I always think I am the one responsible for their wellbeing, for their encouragement; that I am on the giving end. I always think they must be the recipients of what I have to offer. I am being humbly reminded again and again that God ministers to all of them. He whose eye is on the sparrow, watches them. He provides for them. He protects them under the shadow of His wings, keeping them secure in His love. I have received and must learn to receive, just like the children.
Unless you accept God’s Kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.
Luke 18: 17 (The Message)
Excerpted from “Journey Jumbles – Real Stories...Real People...A Real God,” a JMM publication for Bartley Christian Church July Mission Month 2008.