The past three days, Dave Smith (E91 Outreach Ministries), Doug Priest (CMFI), and I visited the headquarters of Missions of Hope International (MOHI), several of MOHI's thirteen centers and churches, their boys and girls boarding schools in Joska, Kenya and two different slums. We have seen and experienced the incredible contrast between light and darkness, hope and despair, good and evil. We prayed for a six-year old girl whose mother thought she might be demonized. We saw men and young boys sniffing glue in the slums, and a man writhing in either drunkenness or demonic possession. But we also saw Christian teachers, social workers, vocational trainers, counselors, and many others serving diligently to bring hope and the love of Jesus Christ to children, youth and their families.
This incredible work, in partnership with Christian Missionary Fellowship, has gone from a start-up Christian school of fifty children in 2000 to over 10,300 children today! The painfully arduous work of community transformation is happening on a stunning scale. This ministry provides vocational training and micro-financing to help adults work their way out of poverty by learning to make jewelry, ornamented bags and clothes, or by developing skills in carpentry and welding. MOHI offers Christian counseling and discipleship through new church plants in addition to their schools which are now producing some of the top scores in all of Kenya. We just met today with a group of fifteen high school senior boys who passed their college pre-entrance exams, and they received the highest scores in their district. We asked them what they want to study in college, and these young men who grew up in abject poverty said they were going to earn degrees to become doctors, engineers, economists, linguists, and even a pilot.
And yet in the midst of these monumental achievements, just five miles from where we began our journey in the Mathare Valley slum, terrorists attacked a high-end shopping mall killing (as of this writing) 69 people and injuring 175. Our thoughts and prayers reach out to the families of those victims who lost their lives in this unconscionable act of horror.
The irony is uncanny. In the slums, most families live on $1-2 a day. Sewage trickles down the dirt roads. Trash is piled along the streets. But, to use MOHI's slogan, the light is transforming the valley of darkness. In comparison, only five miles up the road from this valley of darkness sit affluent neighborhoods and commercial centers where most of the western tourists come to shop, relax, and dine.
In a place of darkness, the light is beginning to shine. In a place that appears to be light, the darkness has come with deadly force. I was thinking of this juxtaposition with our American culture, a land of prosperity and peace, in comparison to the extreme poverty and distress found in the major urban centers of the third world. We might feel safe and secure, because our immediate surroundings appear light. But the Bible warns us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light
(2 Corinthians 11:14). The true light, Jesus Christ, is the only Source to bring illumination to every person (John 1:9) regardless of one’s financial or social status. And it is that light that shines just as bright in the slums of Kenya as it does on a dark day in the affluent Kenyan community of Westgate Mall.