Impact

In just a few weeks our June Impact Trip team will hit the ground running in Kenya. If you have never been on an Impact Trip and are interested in learning more, we would love for you to watch this video. Below is a blog post that was originally posted by Justin last year that perfectly captures the spirit of our trips: 

Over the past five years, I have spent time in the homes of about 200 clients, and each one impacts me in a different way. I wish my memory could retain the faces and details of each visit, but many stories begin to fade over time. However, there are some encounters that are forever seared on my mind.

On this recent trip to Kenya, I visited the home of a woman named Elizabeth. Not unlike most of the homes, it was dark and dingy. The six of us could barely crowd into the small living room. In the corner were stacks of schoolbooks that would intimidate the brightest student. Despite Elizabeth’s quiet demeanor, we could tell that she was a strong, resilient woman. She was a single mother caring for four young children under the age of 10 and going to school to complete her high school education.

When our visit came to a close, we asked Elizabeth a question that we ask everyone, “How can we pray for you?” Her response was simple but unforgettable.

“I have a good life,” she said without hesitation. There was not an ounce of self-pity.

Recently, I read a famous quote by Billy Graham. He said, “Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.”

My experience with Elizabeth has come to mind almost daily and brought new perspective to my life. She had a home, good health, four beautiful children, the opportunity to be educated, and a community of friends through the CARE for AIDS center. For her, she couldn’t imagine what more she could possibly need or want. She felt as if she was the luckiest person in Kenya, and I felt like the luckiest guy for knowing her.

As I am on the brink of fatherhood, I pray that I can shed less tears (literal or figurative) for myself and more tears for and with the people around me. I hope I can remain grounded in times of challenge, not detached or disengaged, and remember the countless blessings I have been given. While at the same time, I want to be able to enter into the suffering of others and experience the pain they are experiencing. Only then will I continue to grow and become more like Christ, and then, together, we can begin solving problems from a place of mutual brokenness, instead of from a place of pity or guilt.

I will leave you with this quote from Melinda Gates…

“In the course of your lives, perhaps without any plan on your part, you’ll come to see suffering that will break your heart. When it happens, and it will, don’t turn away from it; turn towards it. That is the moment change is born.”

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Meet Claris

It’s only been a few short months since Claris became a Christian. But those months have been some of the most empowering of her life.

“I was brought up in a village,” she says. “I was the last born of eleven children. There are only four of us left now.”

Living in a family with so many children didn’t leave Claris with many opportunities to go to school. She attended for a few years before she moved in with her older sister and began working. Between 2004 and 2008, Claris went into business making chapatti, a popular pita-like flatbread that’s a staple in most Kenyan homes.

In 2007, she was tested for HIV and found out that she was positive.

“I had some fear,” she admits. “I wondered how I was going to live. What would happen? It gave me pain.”

Fortunately, CARE for AIDS helped relieve some of her concerns by offering medical care, health and spiritual counseling, and support medications.

“I saw so many people who were like me there,” she says. “It gives me courage that I’m not alone.”

Now that Claris  has accepted Christ, she says that she feels happy about her life. Things are different than they once were, but the help she has received during the CARE for AIDS program is helping her to make the changes she needs so she can be healthy.

“I am alive and strong,” she says proudly. “I’ve received a turning point in my life, and I know I can keep on going.”

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Claris’ story is one of 100 stories recorded the book 100 Faces. Learn more about the project here.

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Poverty

If you have ever been on an Impact Trip with us, you know that we talk and think a lot about the different kinds of poverty (physical, emotional, relational spiritual), and that it is an issue that is very close to all of us on staff at CARE for AIDS. I recently watched Gary Haugen’s TED talk about poverty and its relationship to violence, and it opened up a new perspective for me. This morning, I would like to share that talk. Take a few minutes today to watch this TED talk. How does it inform your view of poverty? What can you do in your community and your wold to alleviate poverty?

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