“Kenya doesn’t need you as much as you need Kenya.”
That’s a weird phrase, right? I think so, especially when it was said to me by Nathan Smith only a few days before my trip to Kenya with Love Africa.
It has now been three years since my feet were on Kenyan soil, and now more than ever I see that Nathan was spot on. I needed Kenya, and I needed it a lot more than I was willing to admit at the time. When I went to Kenya, I admittedly took more baggage with me than just my luggage. At the time I boarded the plane, I had just found out that I hadn’t made it into the program that I was pursuing at Clemson, I had just ended a 2 year long relationship, and had just began to walk into a family crisis that is still going on today.
Just because you are able to leave the country doesn’t necessarily mean you are able to escape your storm. I had so many questions and doubts in my head, and on top of that, I was about to be in Kenya for 3 weeks. I didn’t feel like I was ready, I needed something, someone. I needed Jesus, but was struggling to see Him.
Then I landed in Kenya, and slowly but surely, it all began to change. With every work-tethered hand that I shook, every piggy-back ride I gave, and every night under those Kenyan stars listening the truth of God’s word, God was working on my heart and speaking into my life.
Then one night, as it was my turn to help tuck the kids in to bed at the orphanage, He broke through. I was kneeling beside the bunk bed of a little boy named Kevin. He was my dude; he loved lions and we roamed the wild together inside the fences of Naomi’s Village. It was time for bed and that meant time to say our prayers. I knelt down and he looked up and said “Uncle Sam, me first.” He closed his little hands around mine and began to pray first in Swahili and then in broken English where I could listen to him pray for me.
Right then and there I broke. Here was this little boy, a boy who has no parents and who should have no hope, who was holding my hands and praying with me and for me. I knew then I would never forget it, and I haven’t since.
Right there kneeling by his bed, the Lord showed that He knew me, that He loved me, and that He was going to take care of me. I had what seemed like a storm raging in my heart, and He showed me through Kevin that he is Faithful, and that truly I can take heart, for HE “has overcome the world.”
There hope began.
Three years later I look back to that trip and to that moment with Kevin, and I am able to see that truly the Lord began a work in me. I ended up pursuing and gaining admittance to that program I was seeking. My heart has finally healed from that broken relationship. Now that family crisis has a light at the end of the tunnel. All because of Jesus, and it all started in Kenya.
The thing I have come to learn is that as hard as I try, I am not in control. There will be many more storms and circumstances that will come my way, and they will face me with the choice of whether or not I trust Jesus.
One of my favorite songs these days is “I will look up” by Elevation Worship. In this song there is a lyric that I think communicates this idea of God’s faithfulness in our lives. It goes like this:
“I will look back and see that you are faithful; I look ahead believing you are able.”
When those storms come in life, which they will, I hope that you are able to face them with confidence. Not because you are strong enough or are in control, but because like me, you are able to look back and see His faithfulness, and then face the road ahead knowing that He is able.
Written by: Sam McBride
Reese’s addict | Clemson alum | World traveler