My name is Angela Berardi and this is my first time at the In Step Children's home.
I cannot believe we are already six days into this trip! There is no doubt in my mind that God has gone before us and is with us. From Rochester, NYC, London, and finally arriving in Kenya, God predestined multiple conversations and situations to assure me that He is there, He is in control, and because of those two truths, there is nothing to worry about or fear. These encounters greatly increased my faith and boldness as well as prepared my heart for the mission field currently set before me and the one I will enter when I go home. If I took the time to elaborate on each divine appointment, this short blog post would surely snowball into a novel. So, to save your time, I’ll share a couple with you now.
We had just begun our plane ride from Nairobi to Kitale when a woman in our group, who was seated next to me, started reading a book called, “Woman, Thou Art Loosed”. I curiously inquired if the title of her book was quoted from a verse in the Bible. She replied that it was from Luke 13:12 and proceeded to recite it for me. Immediately afterward, a man sitting directly in front of me turned around and began to engage us in conversation. He overheard that we were talking about “Luke” and asked if it was the book of Luke in the Bible. We replied that we were indeed discussing the book of Luke and he began to ask us where we were from and what we were doing in Africa. After we had shared with him what we were planning on doing, he thanked us and began to share a bit about himself as well. He revealed that his name is (Apostle) William Kasee and that he is a pastor on his way to share to gospel to a people that have never heard it before. Pretty radical, right? To us, yes. To him, this is typical behavior.
William spends himself and his time reaching the lost and broken all over the world through sharing the good news and through the gift of healing. He listens for God to give him direction and goes, relying fully on the provision of God alone. He has converted numerous Muslims in Pakistan, has brought healing to the paralyzed, has been jailed for preaching the gospel, etc. Basically, he is the 21st century Paul…and he’s awesome. To me, it was so encouraging to see someone who actually takes Jesus’ commission seriously and lives it out loud not only in word but in deed. His passion to know God and make Him known was not only contagious but clearly could be seen emanating from the inside out. He was an empty and willing vessel that desperately wanted to be used by God to reach others FOR God, and I was reminded yet again how that is exactly the type of person that God uses. It’s not those who use eloquent words or those with a lot of money or fascinating talents. God doesn’t look for those that are already equipped so that they can be called to serve Him. He equips those for whatever purpose He calls them to.
While we were praying after yesterday's Bible study, the words “a desperate people” kept coming to mind. I wasn’t (and still am not) sure if I’ve arrived at the full revelation from God on what this means, but so far, this is what I have: God needs us to be empty, broken, willing vessels just like our brother William. We need to be as desperate for God as we are for water when we’re thirsty. God doesn’t want visitation rights on Sundays. He wants full custody of our hearts, minds and souls 24/7. Not only should we be desperate FOR God but there should also be a righteously desperate fire in our soul that NEEDS to share the very good news about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with others. How can we hold the treasure of eternal life and not be stirred to share it? Evangelism is simply one beggar telling another where the bread is, and for us, that bread is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
Now, about the Rehema In Step Children’s Home! We arrived at the home fairly late last night, so we basically went to sleep immediately after we ate a quick meal. I was woken up this morning to the sound of children laughing and squealing. Let me tell you, after traveling for many days in various ways, hearing their laughter was the most beautiful and most wonderful alarm clock I could have ever asked for and I could happily wake up to their voices every day for the rest of my life.
I spent the majority of my day meeting the children and learning their names and faces. In the afternoon, I was asked if I wanted to hold some babies. For anyone who knows me (and for anyone who doesn’t know me), the answer will always, always, always be “um…YES!”. What I had thought I agreed to being sitting in a room at the orphanage turned into sitting in a U-shaped backseat of a big van surrounded by babies and heading to the clinic 10 minutes down the road. At the clinic, a few children (1 newborn, 2 babies, 4 toddlers) were tested for Malaria and two came back positive (which is not uncommon). Two of them needed shots and I was the one who held them. I watched them squirm and cry and I felt utterly helpless and broken for them.
Tears began to well up in my eyes and anger started to take root in my heart. I was thinking, “their parents should be the ones holding them, comforting them, telling them everything will be all right…not some random, white girl from America” (although I am definitely not complaining). I felt so burdened for them. They are so undeserving of the trauma that they've already faced in their short life. I began to make a mental list in my head of all the things I wanted to do for them. I wanted them to feel loved and cherished and whole. I wanted to give them new socks with no holes in them so their toes and soles of their feet don’t stick out anymore. I wanted to find a doctor to come heal them immediately. I wanted to protect them. I wanted to right the wrong that’s been done to them. I wanted to fix them. And that’s exactly when God revealed to me that He doesn’t want or need me to fix them; He simply is asking me to love them like Jesus would…and not only that, but also to be like them. Fixing and caring for their heart is His job. Getting peed on while holding them and wiping rice off their faces during dinner and boogers from their nose and doing it joyfully is mine. He wants me to have childlike faith. He wants me to depend on Him for love, protection, and provision. He wants us to learn from these children, who are content in the face of much adversity. We need to learn to be able to say, “no matter our lot, ‘it is well with our soul’.”
This mission trip isn’t anything like what I expected. Before this trip, I asked God to teach me and reveal Himself to me through these children, but I didn’t realize He would grant that prayer so powerfully and as creatively as He already has. I guess you could say that I’m wonderfully broken in all the right places for these kids.
“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names…see their faces…hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” – David Platt