word. (from the wordsmith)
tatterdemalion (tat-uhr-di-MAYL-yuhn, -MALEE-uhn) noun
A person in ragged clothes.
[From Middle English tater, from Old Norse toturr (rag).
The origin of demalion is uncertain.]
deed. (give it a shot) find a pond. find a boat. read first john. slowly.
"The people of Kibera are tired of being looked upon as objects." That's what Pastor Imbumi Makuku told us today after we took our lunch of rice and green beans in chick pea soup. We've been in Nairobi a week now. We spend our days in Kibera, the second largest slum in Africa; a million people live in a square mile of sewage and tin roofs. Bill and Melissa Gates have visited the slum, along with Kofi Anan, Bill Clinton, American Idol, and others.
Who could tell? What has changed? Except for the slum tours, which have now popped up all over Kibera to feed tourists' need to feel empathy, except that the white people continue to flock here to see "how the other half lives," it's hard to say. It's hard to see anything worth calling transformation.
Except in this concrete slab church, Kibera Presbyterian. The people here are being transformed. Pastor Imbumi, his wife Martha, and the leaders of the school here are working change that will last when the others have gone. They are training hundreds of children in the way they should go. They are teaching mothers the Scripture. They are teaching them to pray. Though the profligate fathers are notably absent, a generation of sons is growing up in the Word.
Every Tuesday, an HIV positive group meets at the church. Martha's sister Mary leads the group, and today she announces--for the first time--that she too is HIV positive. Then she says, "Whether we have HIV or not, we all know that our goal is heaven." She begins her medicine today, which to the Africans is public admission and a bow to the stigma of "looseness" attached to the virus. A woman steps forward. "I am Rose." (They speak their kind English for us mzunghos) "I am HIV positive. And I live well." She tells us she wanted to commit suicide when she found herself HIV positive. But she was in the national hospital, and couldn't escape to do the thing. Instead, the church came to her there and prayed with her. She accepted Jesus. She had a baby in the hospital. The church gave her formula milk. The baby took two suspenseful tests. She feared the worst. Both tests came back negative. She holds the baby in her arms today: they are both alive and praising God. They live with Job's words in mind: "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Such are the testimonies of the women of Kibera. And here in this church, the women have AIDS medicine and formula milk, but more importantly, they trust in God. More than anyone I have ever seen. And the formula milk means there will be no viral transfer. What redemption! Without it, the tomb is sealed for both you and your children. With it, these women can live to see another day, to see a future for their kids.