Kenya Day 9

Today we had the incredible opportunity to visit another orphanage nearby to begin getting a picture of what we might be able to do in the future should the Lord allow.  It gave us ideas, great training, relationship building and insight to some more of the challenges that we will face.  This orphanage is an excellent facility and we were amazed at how they are maximizing the facilities they have.

Over the last 20+ years they have been working to develop 6 to 8 acres of land.  They lease out several acres to a local farmer and then they use the rest for the needs of the children.  They are currently hosting 80 children and their goal is to be self-sustaining without the need for help from a sponsoring organization.   For income they lease out land for farming, raise chickens and eggs, rent out their tractor and receive donations from a sponsorship program.  Then for their own needs they have an incredible system for providing other resources.  They raise the chicken and cows for eggs, milk and meat.  They are growing corn and beans in the field and have a garden for other needs.  There is a solar panel system for their pump that keeps the water tanks full and a second system that is fully wired throughout the compound for electricity but waiting for a second solar panel and batteries for lights and other needs.  There is also a fish pond on the grounds where they raise fish for consumption.

It was also interesting that they are not only entrepreneurial but very frugal.  They all the resources they can.  For example, there was a large open air shed that was full of corn cobs.  We asked about it and apparently, after they have stripped the corn kernels off, the left over cobs go in this shelter to dry.  Then they use the dried cobs as fuel for making fires in the kitchen to cook over.  I thought it was ingenious.

The director of the orphanage, Brother Patrick, was very kind to us and showed us around the facility, answered all of our questions, and taught us many things about how they operate.  This gave our team a lot of ideas along with the beginnings of a picture of what we are dreaming/praying of doing to help the children involved in SHIM.

Like all of our other stops and visits on days before, we went inside the director’s house and sat and shared a meal together.  Over tea we were able to ask our questions and hear his stories.  This was helpful but one thing became a little clearer from this visit; part of the reason we are here helping is not only because of the poverty but also because they are a society that needs organization and leadership.  They are a developing country that shows signs of many improvement and modern advances but is still working to overcome many dysfunctions.

Brother Patrick was meticulously describing their operations talking about issues of management, organization, accountability, integrity and so on.  But I was sitting there listen to his descriptions and thinking that what he was describing as to what needed to happen and why is completely normal living and business dealing that we use every day.  At that moment my perspective changed on a value that I have held rather tightly to but now see it very different.

I have always thought that our role was to support and encourage but not necessarily interfere.  It is the idea that we can educate, guide and encourage local leaders but the goal is to empower them and careful not to interfere because we are “paying the bills” so to speak.  It is principle that we see at work in the church in America.  When people donate to the church they are not necessarily buying the right to tell church leadership what to do.  We look for the right leaders and then trust them to correctly lead the church as long as transparency and accountability are in place.

What I didn’t realize as a difference in helping the work of SHIM, as a developing culture and people it is apparent to our team that they are not ready with the organizational leadership skill nor the expertise to handle this kind of a project.  We are learning that our experience and oversight will be essential to success of ministries as we move forward.

In fact, as we returned from our visit to the orphanage, Pastor Mark, Michael from Heart for the Land, and Pastor Barasa from SHIM Church in Kiminini all sat to discuss some matters of organization and authority to help support the work of the children’s project.  There is still more work to be done as we clarify roles and responsibility and how we can help from a distance but very important work was done today as we began to lay some new foundations for the mission.

This was actually, in my opinion, one of the most important days of the trip. We discussed dreams, began mapping out some new organizational structure, addressed some concerns, and even drafted a new agreement between SHIM, Heart For the Land, and Fellowship Church which represents the state support that we are raising.  We intend to be more involved in operations to help make sure that we are maximizing the funds that donors are entrusting to us.

What has been happening has been very important lifesaving work but we can still improve the operational structure to be able to do more.

As Christ followers, I think we are called to live our lives well.  The Bible says to “redeem the time” and that principle can be extended to many areas.  We maximize our time to do God’s work.  Or we should be careful in our budgets so that there is margin for generosity.  We can educate ourselves to become more knowledgeable and increase our effectiveness in our efforts.  There are many ways to improve our loves and therein become more available and effective for Kingdom work.

Posted by Cary Peden

Leave a Reply