Monday, August 24, 2009

Crushed spirits, roaring lions and breaking free

Whatever you have, thank God. If you don't have shoes, thank God, because there are some people without legs.
-Peter Ndolo, 13 year old Mathare resident

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak with one of my best friends (Steve) at a youth rally that he helped organize in the Mathare slum (the theme was Break Free). Although I felt completely inadequate and unqualified to speak to a group who has endured so much, I knew it was an invitation I couldn't turn down.

As we sat with the Mathare community, we were so inspired by the speakers, singers, dancers and artists that came before us, and considered it such a blessing to be surrounded by so many talented and gifted individuals who were able to discover true joy in spite of the poverty surrounding them (see pics below).

Went it came our turn, Steve and I spoke about overcoming our failures and considering trials and tribulations as stepping stones (not stumbling blocks) in the pursuit of our dreams and aspirations. We talked about our own failures (a first for me, publicly), about the unconditional hope and future that exists for all of us*, and how we believe that distractions are created to discourage and diminish us from realizing this future**.

After we finished talking, we thanked our interpreter (Patrick) and he shared with us how much our stories had meant to him. I was very grateful, but assumed he was just being nice. He went on to explain that he is the pastor/founder of a new church in Mathare and has been attacked with unimaginable hardships. He told us that earlier that week, his 8 month old daughter had died of complications while she was in surgery. She was his only daughter and had needed surgery because her intestines were twisted/blocked. I was speechless…

He went on to say that he had just found out that his uncle had passed away that morning. Literally minutes before we started speaking, he received a call with the news… Again, absolutely speechless.

He then shared with us his vision and how our message encouraged him and uplifted him more than we could know. I honestly could not believe my ears. He said he believes that God wants to use him to do great things, but that the enemy is trying to blot out his dreams so that he will surrender them. Even as Patrick was expressing how thankful he was for our message, I was thinking about how the benefit was all ours: the ability of this man to even get out of his bed, leave his home, serve at this youth rally and share his story with us speaks volumes to the faith and strength that he has found.

For this strength, I am eternally grateful and inspired. And will never forget his story.

*Jer. 29:11
**1 Peter 5:8

New friends, local genge artists and dance parties.


  1. Keep up the good work bro, I'm proud of you and and believe in you, always have!!!

  2. Oh my gosh, i'm floored and so ecstatic, God is incredible and continues to reveal himself and make his presences obvious and apparent. . . gloria a dios

  3. Benje! I am so happy to see that you are doing well in Kenya. Your blog is an inspiration and I feel very fortunate to be able to share in your experiences with you. I wish you all the best as you help to build a sustainable economy in Kenya!

  4. Benje, What an amazing God we have - so glad he blessed you and used you to bless and encourage others. Stay humble for Him! LYL

  5. Benje... You are having an amazing experience, changing the lives of others and being humbled in a moment. Im really proud of you and glad that you took this opportunity (ha because I can live vicariously through it!)

    Glad to see you're doing so well man. Cheers
    Khalil B

  6. MY MAN... what can I say?
    -you're awesome!
    - we're all so proud of you!
    - keep up the amazing work you're doing!
    I'm praying for you, brotha!