I had the privilege of spending much of the month of September in Kenya. It has been over a year since I moved back to America, and this trip really showed me how the ministry in Kenya has developed and grown into an entirely new stage. It is encouraging to see how Caleb, Cornel, Duncan, and the rest of the team have grown into roles of greater leadership. Their development shows me that I, too, have changed since I left Kenya – God is continuing to call each of us to different roles, and we can’t predict what that will look like!
Over the course of close to three weeks, I got to sit down with clients who have unbelievable stories, introduce my in-laws to Kenya for the first time, and experience anew the passion that our Kenyan team takes to work every day. On one of our last days, the group attended a graduation at the Kamirithu center just north of Limuru. This is a special center for me – it was the first that we opened after I moved to Kenya, and I have always felt comfortable there in a unique way. On this day, though, the center took on a whole new level of significance when we celebrated the graduation of our 2,000th client from the CARE for AIDS program!
2,000 clients… 2,000 families… 2,000 stories that will never be the same. This is significant for me in so many ways. First is the simple scope that it implies. Every one of these clients represents a family – 3 or 4 kids, on average. Every one is a person who knows the gospel and can share it for the rest of their life. Every one is an advocate who can teach and share the truth about HIV in a society that has believed so many lies. Every one is a life that will last for 15, 20, 25 years LONGER than it would have if they had never found the little Kenyan churches that we work with.
Further, this 2,000th client represents to me the faithfulness of God and the beauty of His plan. All of us involved with CARE for AIDS have figured this out as we went along. None of us are experts in our fields, and few of us had relevant experience that would show us what to do to attack the issue of HIV/AIDS. Thankfully, we knew this going in and we all supported each other when we made mistakes. We looked to God when we failed and were frustrated. Last year this time, we were celebrating the graduation of our 1,000th client, close to four years after our first center opened. To have matched that number in less than a year is a sign that this TRULY is in God’s plan. We could not do it on our own.
Finally, this 2,000th graduate shows me that this ministry is doing more than simply meeting the needs of individuals. Every time our center workers teach, help, encourage, equip, or love a parent with HIV, I think a tiny ripple is created. 9 months of these ripples from each client create a swell, and 2,000 of these swells are turning into a wave. I believe that the combined impact of CARE for AIDS in the individual communities and larger culture of Kenya is starting to leave a real, tangible, permanent effect. The wave is continuing to build, and I believe this place will never be the same!