Written by Elyssa A — Interning in Kenya
James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Before coming to Kenya, I had this expectation of how to love the widows and the orphans.
At home it often looks like loving them as a church. We do food drives, clothing drives, adopt a child for Christmas, volunteer at the homeless shelter(s), etc. You’re hands on with a lot of things. Sometimes it looks like sitting and just being a loving listening ear for them.
Here in Kenya loving the orphans looks a lot differently. A lot of times the interactions with orphans here are far from positive. The orphans here are referred to as street kids. These kiddos usually are sniffing glue and going around being violent and persistent with getting money or food. People who interact with the kids here are usually throwing things at them and laughing at them and not offering any help. They don’t really care what happens to them. We met a pastor named Patrick and he loves to love the “hard” kids. He started a girls home to help prevent early pregnancy, early marriage, and to help send the girls to school. While the girls are living at this home they learn how to sew and then the pastor and his wife help them start their own business. The girls even make their own school uniforms! After having interactions with kids before they got helped and then seeing the girls in the home they have so much hope and joy. They love the Lord with all that they have and their stories are so inspiring. They’re allowed to be a kid again and to enjoy growing up with their friends. The pastors next goal is to start a girls home and even asked if I would want to be involved.
Before Kenya I had no idea why the Lord wanted to send me here but it’s been such a fun journey getting to tap into what he’s trying to tell me and to see how much love came about for the people and country for Kenya. Leaving Kenya I’m coming back with the perspective “we aren’t the voice for those in poverty. We’re just hear to help them elevate it.” Orphans have their own voice but it takes the one person who is going to sit and listen and then help them get whatever it may be started.
What does loving the orphans look like to you?
“You must not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, they will no doubt cry to me, and I will certainly hear their cry.” -Exodus 22:22-23