into africa: day two

Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are!
Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are!
I love, love, love you . . .
Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are!

About 30 young grade schoolers sang the words with gusto and hand motions as we stood in their crowded, hot classroom and took it in.

I had never expected that such a place would offer me such a moment of profound worship.

I had been forewarned that visiting Nairobi slums would be difficult and emotional. But no one had predicted I’d be so struck with what our Lord is doing in one of the world’s unlikeliest of places.

Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are to inspire dozens of educated, competent leaders to work in a place like this.

Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are to fill hearts with enough love to share with whole communities trapped in squalor and oppression.

Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are to inspire creative entrepreneurship that not only helps these people, but empowers them to help themselves.

Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are that you can redeem life on earth as well as save souls for eternity—and use the church to do both.

The church has made possible Hope Partnership, Christian Missionary Fellowship’s enterprise in the Nairobi slums of the Mathare Valley. The work serves Jesus with a three-pronged approach, each of which needs at least a 1,200-word essay to fully explain. But maybe my little summary will help you worship too.

Schools educate orphans and other children of families in desperate situations.

Community Health Evangelism (CHE) trains volunteers to offer a future to those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and recruit neighbors to address all kinds of basic health and sanitation issues.

Business Development Services provides small loans and skills training to those who will improve their situation by creating a business that can give them an income. (Read more about CMF’s microloan program here.)

As a result, children are being educated; in 10 years the school program has grown from 50 preschoolers in one rented two-bedroom home to an enrollment of 3,750 in 10 schools.

Meanwhile, 350 CHE volunteers have improved health and offered hope in ways too numerous to mention. Six support groups for those testing HIV-positive meet regularly.

And 457 clients are operating their own businesses in the slum, financed by microenterprise loans that now total about $100,000.

This holistic approach is demonstrating the love of Christ, not just talking about it. But preaching and teaching the gospel is also central to the strategy.

School children learn Bible stories and memorize Bible verses.

Adults seek a relationship with God when they are helped by relationships with his servants.

“Sharing Christ is the bottom line,” said Paul, a Business Development Services director.

And today there are five new churches in this slum, where there were none before the work began. And four of them started in the last two years alone!

Oh, Jesus, what a wonder you are!

(This is the second post from my dad during a “vision trip” to Nairobi with Christian Missionary Fellowship. Scroll down a bit to read part one.)