Two weeks ago we began the final preparations in Nairobi as we got ready to fly out that night. Our phones were back in our hands. Cameras were going nonstop. Shillings were exchanged. Goodbyes were made. Memories were starting to be sealed. Many of us began to feel the pressures of all we would be returning to when we got back to the states. Would the team stay in touch? Would we assimilate, alienate, or integrate with our "regular" lives because of the lessons learned? Would time pass and the memories fade? Would the ways we experienced God in mind blowing ways continue? Would grocery stores, tv shows, and multi-ethnic or mono-ethnic crowds overwhelm us? Would we still have our zeal for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Would we ever return to this place that had transformed each of us in unimaginable ways?
As the day wound down, we began to talk about not just the days of orientation or our ministry assignment (see previous three emails), but also the final two and a half weeks of our time there. How we were blessed by the story, lessons, and exhortation for loving others as one our greatest tools of witness from a now Christian preacher who grew up as a devout Hindu in India before converting to Christianity. How we toured Hindu temples and then experienced the Islamic faith in a Muslim Mosque. How we spent hours caring for disabled orphans at the Mother Theresa Home and played childhood games with orphans at Sanctuary of Hope. How we gleamed wisdom for missionaries and saw God's creation in a new way at the Nairobi National Park. How we spent days debriefing and discovering all the ways God moved in Kenya. How God's purposes for us in this world could very well be in the marketplace within a wide range of industries or serve with local ministries domestically or move to Kenya one day to continue your mission in reaching one of the three unreached tribes in Kenya that you were blessed to begin working with for 2.5 weeks on ministry assignment (hint hint). :-)
Mission trips are always powerful, but what I saw happen in 6.5 weeks was not just a mission trip, it truly was a global project. It was filled with opportunities to not just learn about a new culture, but fully immerse yourself and live incarnationally with them much like God did when He came to earth in the form of man. We were taught new concepts in various subject areas, trained in skills we never knew we needed, and had our scope widened beyond our home country. We did not just share the hope, life, and salvation through Jesus Christ, we were image bearers of God and we lived the message of the gospel. We did not just see people become Christians, we served, provided resources, and watched God transform the lives of people. Twenty two Americans and five Kenyans loved on a nation for 6.5 weeks and they...
- ...gave about 300 sermons/messages,
- ...saw over 1100 decisions for Christ,
- ...visited over 400 homes and 40 schools,
- ...served almost 300 hours,
- ...worked with over 200 patients and provided over 100 vaccinations (nursing students),
- ...donated countless resources and personal finances to various efforts!
Now that I am back, if there is one word I could use to sum up this experience for me...my first major experience of this new decade in my life...it would be CONFIRMING! God confirmed his specific calling on my life. God confirmed His purposes in me. God confirmed full-time ministry is for me. God confirmed that I will in fact be living in Africa (something I've desired for some time). God confirmed His Son's gospel is enough. God confirmed He is still saving people. God confirmed seminary has paid off. God confirmed He cares about all parts of my life, big and small. God confirmed that He made me exactly the way He did for His reasons and it is no mistake I am the ethnicity I am. God confirmed I'm worthy of His love and the love of those who want to freely give it. God confirmed the authentic Chelir is the best version of Chelir.
IV Staff @ Texas Southern & Prairie View