Elizabeth. Francis. Collins. Masee. Joseph. Fiona.
These are the children of Kibera. We like to say we "love" them, and we do, but Pastor Imbumi and his wife Martha really love them. They've spent over twenty years caring for the children of Kibera, and if that's not testimony enough, they've adopted 22 of them. The kids live at the Shunam shelter, a compound outside downtown Nairobi, where they live in a rare community of faith. The pastor leads them in Saturday prayer for the Sunday service; there is abundant food on their table; they live harmoniously. It's beautiful to watch. Their family is big enough to play a full game of soccer at the field behind the compound, where monkeys cheer from the sideline trees.
The pastor and his wife plan to buy 53 acres of land to relocate the Shunam shelter. They hope to build a school and establish their work of redeeming kids from the slum. They pray for money (an immense sum; think of starting a large school), and for growth. Imbumi believes the money will come in one year's time. "Now," he says with a twinkle in his eye, "it is like the fist of the thunderstorm that Elijah's messenger saw on the horizon; soon, it will rain." (I can think of no one else in the world to whom I would more gladly give money, if I had it...)
The thing is that these people get this place. They live in the working cogs of Kibera. Martha had been working with World Vision for eight years when Imbumi asked for her hand. Three months later, they both got married, quit their jobs, and have been working in the slums ever since. In his first two years, says Imbumi, he buried over 70 people.
We've learned loads from these people in our short time here. Here's the sum of some thoughts floating through our group:
>The testimony of believers is essential to worship. Talk about what the Lord is doing in your life! Fo real! Confess your sins publicly. Let it go. Speak of your redemption every day.
>Teaching and preaching the Word of God--alone--brings hope and joy. Stick to the book; don't be afraid to talk about it because "it may not be relevant." Screw "relevance" as we know it. The Bible is the living word.
>Travel gives light to the eyes. Seeing the weird and paradoxical nature of the slums--the joy and misery, the sin and worship, the clean scrubbed babes and dirty sewage--sheds light on our own culture. Where do we disconnect? Where is our sewage? Here in Kibera, it flows in the streets. We sweep ours under the rug.
>God's saints at work are like a million pinpricks of light around the globe.
>The women of Kibera are powerful warriors of the Word. They don't dwell on emotions, as the Western world has been taught to do; they read their Bibles.
At the core of all these thoughts is a central one. We are with saints who trust in God for every speck of strength. They love and worship him passionately—earnestly—like they knew the time was short. They fall into worship at staff meetings, in the kitchen, before class: everywhere. It is their source of life. And shouldn't it be?
thought."The sights a man has seen he cannot give away like coins, and in the wallet of my heart I finger this one still." -Godric, Frederick Buechner
word. scrutator (skroo-TAY-tuhr) noun: One who investigates.
[From Latin scrutator (searcher),
from scrutari (to examine), from scruta (trash).]
deed. compose a poem standing up outside.