Children at Risk

Former gun-toting gangster becomes pastor - C@R

Transformed in Kibera Slum, Kenya - C@R

Outhouse at Kibera Slum, Kenya
Kids at School in Kibera Slum, Kenya

As I write this blog, all I can think about is taking a nice hot shower. Which does not speak very well of my character. 

It's night time in Nairobi, Kenya--where I'm tapping out this commentary sitting outside a guest room.

Just hours ago, we trudged through the winding streets of Kenya's infamous "Kibera Slum."  Kibera bears the unfortunate distinction of being Africa's largest slum.  More than one million people call this filthy place home.  It's twisted paths and shadowy alleys form a hard mud maze sufficient, I imagine, to befuddle the latest GPS. 

Kibera is the place to go when  you have no place to go.  Let me give you a couple pictures so you can better envision the place.

Snapshot #1

A flap of tattered plastic crinkles in the breeze, concealing what appears to be a primitive outhouse.  But the slivered streams of wet mud all around suggest many folks do their business wherever they happen to be.  This notion was confirmed as, from the corner of my eye, I watched a child relieve herself a few feet away from me as I was recording an interview.  The smell of human filth is the perfume of choice in Kibera, poverty's poster child slum.  And one must be at all times vigilant while walking, lest a foot twist in the rutted path, or slip into the slime of human waste. 

But there are other smells.  Something burning.  Something rotting. Something frying, as street vendors attempt to carve out a few shillings. 

By contrast, observe snapshot #2.

Down a twisted rutted path strewn--as all paths here are--with garbage of all kinds, we came to a most unusual sight: children sitting at crude desks working on school lessons.  They were reading science experiments--outloud--to practice their English before a devoted, if not determined, instructor. The school is an unlikely success story in a narrative of negatives.   

It is the vision of a local pastor whose own testimony is amazing. Formerly a gun-toting gangster, he came to Christ after surviving a hail of police bullets that claimed nine of his fellow gang members. 

Spared--and scared--he surrendered to Christ and ultimately became a pastor.  He and his wife have six children of their own.  Yet walking through the Kibera slum, he could not escape the empty faces of the orphaned children he saw.

(Every single day in Kibera, sick or unwanted babies are dumped over a wall.  Or left deserted.   If they don't die the first night, they usually survive, to join the growing ranks of Kibera's orphans). 

The pastor felt he had to do something for these orphans.  So he adopted one.  Then another.  And another.  And another. And...  ultimately, he and his wife moved to the slum to care for these refuse refugees. 

As we piled back into our car and bounced along the road taking us out of Kibera, I confess I was glad to be leaving. Glad to be leaving the noise and the smells and the utter brokeness that describes this place.

Gotta wash those hands.

Gotta sanitize those germs.

But Kibera isn't an experience to wash away.  It's a wound that needs healing.  And just think how much healing the Awana message might offer this place.

God forgive me for wanting my own hot shower more than the relief of Kibera's million dirty souls.

God grant that this place be filled with ten thousand kids who grow up in an Awana program--right in the Kibera slum--to "rightly divide the Word of Truth."


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