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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Despair into Hope

Back in April my father took a short-term missions team to Nairobi for about a fortnight. For dad it was a return to a city he and mom called home for about four years, over a decade ago. Dad and the team were partnering with missionaries there, helping with a project to instill skylights in the Mathare slum. As others cut the roofs and installed the skylights, Dad shared the gospel with the Kenyans that live in Mathare. There are roughly 800,000 people in Mathare, one of Nairobi's largest slums, and yet the area is less than one square mile. 

Here is a poem Dad wrote about his experience (first posted online by the missionaries that hosted the team, here).
As an act of obedience, to Mathare we came
And now our lives will never be the same.
For we witnessed a rescue that was epic in scope,
As we watched God move people from depair into hope.
It’s hard to imagine a place more full of depair.
One may exist, but I sure don’t know where.
The surroundings are filthy, the homes are all dark.
You’d never go there on a whim or a lark.
With walls of mud and roofs of rusty tin,
It seems like everything but light can get in.
If ever you hear me gripe, complain or grouse,
Remind me my closet’s as big as their house.
The sun beats down hot and there’s seldom a breeze,
And the use of flying toilets spreads their disease.
With no sewer and few toilets, it smells like a sty,
Cause people put waste in a bag and then let it fly.
This is the setting in which we saw God’s might,
As we shared the gospel and gave out the light.
We opened a window in the roof and in came the sun,
And some of the people opened their hearts to God’s Son.
This is the devil’s territory and it’s caught in his grip,
But with power from the Lord, some gave him the slip.
Now there is hope where once was despair,
As some have discovered that God really does care.
By Jim Shimer © 2009

Dad mentioned to me after returning that when we think eternally, we realize that the residents of Mathare who have Christ are far better off than residents of our city who have big houses, plenty of toilets, but darkened hearts blinded to truth. If only we can start thinking eternally, realizing that our life on earth is fleeting.


Sharon said...

Your father is right. And in some ways, it is much harder to share the gospel with people who think they have everything they could ever want or need, like our neighbours.

People who know they are thirsty will eagerly come to drink, but how does one convince a person to drink if they are gripped by an illusion of satiety?

I love the way Acts 6:7, which says "...and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith" comes right after the two trials of Peter and the other apostles by the Sanhedrin, the priestly leaders. Despite their earlier insistence to the apostles "not to speak in the name of Jesus", some priests finally heard the gospel of Jesus with listening, open ears, believed and were saved.

Hurrah for the work of the Holy Spirit in opening blinded eyes, wherever they may be!

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

Well said, Sharon: "Illusion of satiety"

I think that our culture's affluence simply masks the despair. Better that we would recognize our despair and find true hope.

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