For the past few days, newspapers and newscasts around the world have been reporting on the devastating terrorist attack in the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. What the media isn’t showing is the beauty we know to be Kenya – the picturesque landscapes, breath-taking sunsets, and most importantly a people who are full of hope, strength, determination and joy.
“Joy, hope, strength & perseverance – this would describe Commissioner Florence Malabi & Colonel Grace Mnyampi. On May 21, 2012, I experienced these characteristics first hand at the Madivini Corps. We were scheduled to paint the home of the corps officers. The Commissioner and Colonel worked along with us as we painted. They had such joyful spirits and they thanked us for helping and serving. To see these ladies of higher rank get in there and help their people was so humbling and a true example of servant leadership. When the people of the corps saw them they were delighted and Commissioner Florence and Colonel Grace took time to speak to everyone and ask how they were doing. It was exciting to see how all of the women loved these two leaders. They even referred to the Commissioner as ‘MaMa.’ I truly felt humbled by the love MaMa and Colonel Grace showed us while we were able to serve in Kenya.” – Belen Hood
The Salvation Army Joyland School in Kenya is a place where determination and strength are demonstrated by students and teachers alike. As a secondary school established to serve the needs of students with disabilities, the school offers hope and opportunity to its students. Captain Debra Osborn of Arnold, Missouri remembers that many of the students she met in the Joyland School showed great courage. One student who was without arms proudly showed Debra how he could write his name using his toes. Debra concludes, “I felt nothing but joy and inspiration from these precious children at Joyland.”
Summer Mission Team member Nancy Valentin shares that for her, Kenya is synonymous with generosity. Nancy recalls her experiences in Kenya, “The nationals immediately honor their guests with delicacies that they prepared themselves or have gathered for this very visit. I remember leaving many houses with eggs, chickens, and other gifts simply because I was a guest.” Though many Salvation Army soldiers in Kenya are financially poor, they are generous, many times giving of their own minimal funds to help their corps and corps officers. Additionally, if a soldier doesn’t have money to tithe, often he or she will give a gift of food to the corps officer.
Patrick Munywoki, a Lieutenant in The Salvation Army Kenya East Territory, has been described as someone who exudes joy and exemplifies what it means to be a living sacrifice to God. Summer Mission Team member Jamison Taube reflects on his time with Lt. Munywoki, “After a long day of teaching, Patrick invited our team to his small home for a time of rest and fellowship. As we enjoyed tea together, Patrick shared about his responsibilities as an officer. In addition to being the overseer for The Salvation Army schools in the area, he is also a corps officer and Divisional Youth Officer. For Patrick, there is much sacrifice in being a Salvation Army officer. His appointment is far from his home town, which means isolation from family and friends, and he is in the process of learning a new language which is spoken in his current town. As a single man, Patrick fulfills these duties without the help or company of a spouse. Even after sharing these facts with us, Patrick carefully emphasized one thing – That there is no greater pleasure in his life than to follow the living God and that he would happily take up any burden if only to further the gospel of Christ Jesus. Meeting and growing to love Patrick as a brother in Christ caused our team to ask ourselves if we were truly giving a sacrifice worthy to our God.”
Joy. Hope. Strength. Determination. Perseverance. Generosity. Sacrifice. That’s the Kenya we know. That’s the Kenya we love.
Earlier this week Salvation Army General Andre Cox invited Salvationists to join together in prayer for Nairobi, Kenya. Similarly, Kenya’s national motto is “Haramabee” which is Swahili for “Let us all pull together.” In these days we should pull together, as a church, as the Body of Christ, to pray for peace and unity in Kenya and throughout the world. And we should also thank God for the beautiful people of Kenya who are shining the light of Christ into this dark world!
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