It is amazing how God works all over the world. In fact, I think Americans really have no idea what God can do because we are so wrapped up in our “little busy” lives. What would happen if we just stopped for a moment and looked around?
That is what my beautiful friend, Jill, experienced. Maybe we all need to stop, look, and be broken.
Brokenness: Experiencing God’s view of suffering, injustice, needs, and sorrows.
Passion: Engaging in God’s plan, purpose, and eternal view of Kingdom Building.
So what does it mean to have a broken heart? I think it means practicing the greatest word in the human language, LOOK! I was reading Acts 3 one day, while serving as a missionary in Kenya, and I saw those words jump off the page like billboard messages.
“4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.” (Acts 3, NIV)
Who was Peter looking at? -A beggar at the temple. At some point in 1990, I began to notice many children begging on the streets of my town in Kenya. I saw the tattered clothing and smudged faces as a nuisance. You see, I did not know about HIV AIDS yet, and the fact that many children were becoming orphans. I did not know why these children were appearing here asking for food and asking for money. I did not know why they sniffed glue to alleviate the cold, sorrow, and hunger. I just knew that they entered my world and made me uncomfortable.
Discomfort was exactly what God planned and in that moment, when I read those verses, God whispered, you won’t even look at them. I was ashamed. I vowed to stop in my day and LOOK intently and see what God saw. Looking, led to loving, and loving led to more involvement and soon I became known to these children as “Rafiki” or friend. I learned to see what God sees when He looks at these precious ones.
What began with looking, led to a grand ministry. My high school students, staff, and I began to minister to a group of around 20 children of the streets. We engaged in loving them and caring for them through weekly visits to the campus, but God had more in mind. Later, there was working to pay school fees to return them to school where they could learn. We did some repair on a local elementary school to help these children of the slums and that year a tiny guy was first in the class. His name is Anthony and he is my eldest foster child. Two other children appeared and captured my heart. David and Daniel, who were genuine street children, became foster sons two and three. I took them to an orphanage in the capital city, where I began a new ministry of camps and Vacation Bible Schools. I wrote and published curriculum for these Holiday Bible Clubs. Later, I served on the Board of Governors at the orphanage and helped with some fundraising.
My home church became involved and raised funds to purchase a cow for the home. Generations later, they still receive milk from the third generation of that cow. Since its small beginnings, the home now boasts 4 cottages, dining hall, bath house, school, clinic, vocational training school, and chapel, and a large experimental garden. Children are cared for, taught about the way to salvation and the love of God. Children are fostered like my three young men. They continue to have camps and Holiday Bible Clubs.
My latest involvement has come through one of the graduates of the home, Isaac. He has moved into a different slum area and hosts a Children’s Bible Club each week for children. They are fed and loved and taught about God’s love for them. He holds camps and clubs like those he had experienced.
Isaac, like my own three foster sons, came to my home each school holiday. I invested in them. I taught them how to walk with God and know Him and while some have erred and gotten sidetracked, they return to the one who knows them best, their Heavenly Father. God is at work in the lives of many of these children, like Paul. He is now a pastor. He used to come to the camps and loved to learn Bible verses.
When God broke my heart to see the unwanted, cast-away children of my streets, I had no idea that they would then be instrumental in reaching others. I believe investing in people is the greatest investment of all.
I continue to practice the skill of LOOKING. I believe it is the greatest skill of all. I am a teacher and I love to see God’s great potential in my students. When I join Him in investing in their lives, the return is beyond my imagination.
Jill can be found teaching at a nearby university, gardening, and praying over the needs of those around the world. Her latest passion is love and care for missionary kids who attend the local university and teaching Bible to young adults.