For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7
As we visit with students and families whether that be at the Madoya School in Nairobi where many students are sponsored by CPCC members, or in rural Maasai Villages, a recurring theme has been especially evident: A life of Christian action is a life where faith is continuously chosen over fear.
Beril, an 11 year old girl who calls one of Nairobi’s largest slums home, has been sponsored by Melissa Smith and her family and this year they were able to meet for the second time. This year’s visit was a bit different though, as Beril’s father recently and unexpectedly passed away. The social worker who oversees Beril’s well being at school and home, along with over 100 other students, informed Melissa of this tragic loss and that the family was struggling. Beril is the middle of 3 children, her father was the head of their household and his passing has left their family without any income. Melissa was asked to visit Beril’s mother at their home to provide encouragement. Without the sponsorship, Beril would not be able to remain in school where she is provided two meals per day and access to medication when needed. Despite this time of deep grief and stress, one thing remains, their hope and faith in the Lord. Beril’s mother has faith that God will provide a job for her each day and that she will be able to earn enough income to support her children.
As part of our team left Nairobi and traveled out to the Maasai Land there have ben many more opportunities to witness such relentless faith. Once we arrived at our camp in Ewaso Ngiro our partner, John Keshe who provides opportunities for girls to continue their education in secondary school, took us to the local health clinic. John Sankok, a local nurse and midwife who oversees this clinic along with 8 others, took some to share with us the growth and opportunity he has seen come through the efforts of programs like John Keshe’s. He talked of how the entire community benefits as these girls learn at school and come back to improve their own communities. This is a benefit that is seen while the girls are still in school as they learn about keeping a healthy home and return to introduce these guidelines, such as using toilets, and hand washing. As one of the bright girls sponsored through John Keshes’s organization, Kenya Community Education and Action, said “When you educate a girl, you educate the community.” John Sankok also talked with us about the motivation and encouragement that come as a result of student sponsorship. Not only do these students and their parents put their future in God’s hands by trusting fully that He will provide, but they are encouraged to study hard, as John said “Because they know the people who make it possible are sacrificing. The people who are sponsoring go without lunch or dinner to give that girl an opportunity and future.”
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4
This verse really resonated as we traveled to a remote village to visit with a potential student and her family which John Sankok had recently identified through his work at one of the clinics. There he learned of a 15 year old girl, Sylvia. Sylvia’s father had sold all of his livestock in order to pay the fees for her first term of secondary school. As that term comes to an end, keeping her in school has become a worry for Sylvia and her parents. After hearing of the benefits of other girls who continued their education from nearby communities, Sylvia’s father courageously became the first father in his village to send his daughter to school. Her father told us that both he and his wife had been very ill and that he was worried that his daughter would not be able to continue despite her high test scores due to the lack of money for school fees. Despite the stress and illness in her family, her father has remained faithful trusting fully that God would provide and obeyed the direction he was given to go and ask community church leaders for help.
Throughout the different communities we have visited there is a common thread of faith and reliance on God to provide what is needed. Here we see great joy for the provisions provided through sponsorship for education, bringing great relief to families, and a future for their children and communities as a whole.
At home, we often rely on ourselves to fulfill these needs, letting the stress and the pressure to provide “enough” overcome us. We know that when Jesus comes again there will be no fear. We will all see what we are truly capable of, no fear to leave our homes or travel across the world, no fear of not having enough. The challenge is living this way until that time comes. How can you choose to live in faith instead of fear?
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1