Well. Now that you all know that I am clearly the least of these when it comes to being a missionary… I’d like to share with you about our visit to Wells of Joy Ministries in the Lunga Lunga slum of Nairobi. Honestly, I have been so leary of writing this particular post because I don’t know how to begin to do this ministry justice, in a concisely written way, that can appeal to hearts in a similar fashion that my visit there did for me. And so I just pray.
I will start by explaining that Wells of Joy is the overarching ministry that represents both the church and Brilliant Sharpening Community School, housed in the same building there in the slum.
I had seen pictures of the slum taken from the school, but it was still hard for me to absorb what I saw there. I wish I had a video to share what it’s like to walk down the narrow streets of a slum. (Cameras or other technology could not be exposed in public, only within the walls of the school building.) The smells, the inquisitive eyes, the hard-packed, rocky earth, the weary looks, food cooking over open fires outside of tin shacks, filthy water, the babies roaming with the animals. The murmur of “mzungu” (light-skinned person).
We arrived at Wells of Joy and were greeted by the beaming face of Pastor Geoffrey Mutunga. Having met and spent such a brief time with him during his visit to Arkansas, it was so good to see him in his element. We also met our security officers, who accompanied us throughout our time in Lunga Lunga, complete with assault rifles. It was a whole new world.
We attended church at Wells of Joy on Sunday morning. We worshipped from hymnals, first in English, then in Swahili. Pastor Geoffrey preached a sermon that resonated with my heart (I’m laughing because I just realized he preached from Mark 6 about Jesus walking on the water. No wonder I connected that passage to my own weak faith in our travels). The students in attendance performed a dance for us. As Geoffrey dismissed the congregation, our team was immediately swooped upon and taken up by the students of Class 7 (the oldest students), who would be joining us for lunch at Tusky’s restaurant, just outside the slum. A young lady named Mildred gripped my hand and led me out of the church and down the street. She was shy and spoke only briefly, but was serious in her charge of escorting me to lunch, careful to make sure that none of the motorists or pikipiki (motorcycles) ran over me. I will not forget that walk.
During lunch, the sweet mother of a beautiful girl named Faith, came to join me at my table with Mildred. In one of the more profoundly humbling moments of my life, Nancy thanked me profusely for contributing to Brilliant Sharpening Community School. I didn’t want to be thanked because my contributions thus far have been so small, in my terms. I felt strongly that I should be the one to thank her, for blessing me with her presence. Though communication wasn’t easy because of these mzungu ears, we shared about our children. Mothers’ hearts speak the same gratitude when we feel someone has helped our child. She wanted to convey that and I overwhelmingly understand that emotion.
I also won’t forget the way those 14 children scarfed down plates piled high with Kenyan food and thinking of how I beg my kids to finish a meal back at home. My kids likely would have gone hungry at lunch that day out of stubbornness. And those Class 7 students would have let them know how silly that is.
We returned on Monday morning to be able to visit all of the students during school hours and were able to serve them their morning porridge. When we first saw the building that houses Wells of Joy church and Brilliant Sharpening Community School, we were told of how far the structure has come in the last few years, going from a dirt floor with one light bulb, to a 3-story building with running water and two meals a day now being served to hungry students. The school now contains 400 students everyday, who remain in this building from 6:00am to 6:00pm and are kept safe while their parents work.
The students LOVE having their picture taken and being able to see themselves. They shouted over and over, “Picture, picture!!” and I had a hard time saying no. They sang for us and played a game with Pastor Geoffrey before returning to their classrooms.
The needs are great but God continues to provide, piece by piece. At this time, funds are desperately needed to purchase the lots surrounding the existing building in order to make necessary facilities for required testing, a playground (can you imagine keeping 400 children within such a confined area 12 hours a day, six days a week??), and boarding facilities for Class 7 students. All donations are tax-deductible and it is easy to make a massive impact with the resources you possess. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on sponsorship.