Kenya Update 5

After visiting a Christian school yesterday and playing with the children, today we concluded our mission experience by visiting a slum in the village of Mutuati. Sodzo has worked with several children from this slum over the last few years. They have also established a couple of their family strengthening groups in the area.

As we walked around it was heartbreaking to see the deep poverty these people face. Sadder still are the children, some of whom are homeless. We saw many of them carrying bottles of glue, which they periodically hold up to their noses. “Huffing” the fumes creates a cheap high. A few of the kids we encountered were visibly high from it. It is a quick and easy way for them to escape the bleakness of their lives. These are the kids Sodzo tries to reach.

However, in the midst of the bleakness, there are signs of hope. The family strengthening group that meets there has about 20 women who meet every week. They share their resources to support one another financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Changes are already happening. The families represented in that group are experiencing, among other things, reduced levels of substance abuse and financial stress. The group calls itself Shauri Moyo, which loosely translated means, “Guided by the Spirit of God.”

The entire experience this week requires us think more deeply about what salvation means. Sodzo is a Greek verb that means to save. However, a more nuanced translation is make whole or to restore. When God saves us through Jesus, he doesn’t just scoop up our soul to take us to heaven when we die - though he certainly does that. There is more to it. He restores from our fallen state. He makes us whole again. He restores our full humanity so we can more fully reflect His original purposes when He first created the world.

We have seen this on display this week. We’ve seen individual dignity restored, families healed, community reestablished, and hope reborn, both for now and for eternity, in the midst of difficult circumstances. And the good news is we don’t have travel to Kenya to see this. This is what God desires for all people, and it is what He is in the business of doing.

This is what the church means when we declare, “Jesus saves!”

Now the long and sweet journey home begins.

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