Andy Stanley said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
As our Naomi’s Village family gathers its 45 children to celebrate another year of life, we are thankful for the many redemptive stories that have played out in front of our collective eyes with each passing week. Let us pause to consider one to lift to God in thanks together this season.
Paul once lived beyond the margins of hope, in a terribly abusive and neglectful environment, often going weeks without seeing his alcoholic mother. He wandered filthy Maai Mahiu, a Kenyan truck stop town, looking for food at age 9. He had no concept of school, no horizon to see beyond, and no one to take his hand. Yet he still looked after his brothers, Dennis (7), and John (4).
When Naomi’s Village opened in 2011, the local chief begged us to go visit these boys’ home and if we took in no other children, to please help these 3. Julie came home crying after seeing them for the first time, and still calls it the worst place she has ever been to this day. “Yes” was a formality, the chief signed the papers, and they came home with us.
On that sweet day, Julie picked them up in our Toyota Prado, arriving to find them playing in a pile of trash. Not figuratively, but a real pile of honest to God rubbish (see below). Their mother did not see them off, leaving word to let the mzungu (white lady) take them. They couldn’t have known what awaited, having not experienced abundance before. Strangely, neither could we, having never witnessed the effect that simple, consistent, redemptive love has on a battered life.
Paul’s initial reaction started the relationship off perfectly, as he took his first ever warm shower, emerged to receive a new soft towel, and burst into tears in a heap on the floor. The housemother and his brothers asked him why he was crying and he could only manage, “we get to live here now!” in Kikuyu. He has graciously embraced our love ever since and grown under its nurturing, and it has been such an immense joy to give it away to him.
Paul finished Year 3 of school recently, and despite having never attended a day of class prior to becoming our boy, he scored 100% on national standardized testing. He leads his peers, but with the humility of one who knows he has been given love to share it. He plans on being an airline pilot, even though he has not yet gotten to take his first plane flight. The kid once stuck in a dead end rut of a life now sees himself flying others one day. These stories practically write themselves…
So Happy Thanksgiving from us at Naomi’s Village/Cornerstone! And remember to thank the God who showed us what rescue is all about.
– Bob Mendonsa