I’ve been in Kenya a week.
To be exact, 7 days and six hours. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of all that this incredible country has to offer.
Though this is just the beginning of a grand adventure, I’ve witnessed something special in this one week that I want to share with you. It is something that has changed my perspective and challenged me beyond what I can truly convey in words. It all started with an airline journey.
When the case of the missing pillow began, my neighbour and I were drawn into the returning of the pillow after being witnesses of the culprit. After an awkward conversation, the pillow was returned to its rightful owner and my neighbour and I were rewarded by a free bottle of champagne (thank you British Airways!). The ice was officially broken. We spent the next 8 hours talking and I discovered that my neighbour, the lady in seat 16F (also known as Emily), was headed to Nairobi for a ten-day mission trip at an orphanage.
After landing and exchanging Instagram details, six days later I found myself reunited with my flight travel buddy at Nyumbani Children’s Orphanage alongside 150 HIV positive Kenyan orphans. And it was incredible.
These children had something I hadn’t seen in a while. They expressed so much joy as they worshiped God, so much gratitude and excitement to praise His name with their peers. They were full-on all-out in love with the Lord.
During the service there was mention of a small child named Mary who sadly lost her life the previous week. Her friends and roommates were all in the front row. Rather than mourn in dismay at what had happened or become angry at the life they were born into with no fault of their own, they fully celebrated the life of Mary and the eternal one she now has with the Lord. The words ‘God is Good all the time, and all the time God is good’ were passionately shouted in praise by 150 small voices throughout the service.
My academic background is in business, where there is a term called Organization Silos. These occur when departments or management groups do not share information, goals, tools, priorities and processes with other departments in the same organization. This mentality impacts everyone, reduces morale and even contributes to the failure of the organization.
When I walked out of this church service, it suddenly hit me that this is exactly how I’ve been operating for a number of years. I would attempt to stick to my Bible reading plan then each day tick it off the list. I would head to church on Sunday for the service then crack-on with the rest of the week. Working in Christian ministry, my faith had unintentionally become systematic and a production of due diligence effort. One passage to read, a sermon to write, another event to attend, one list of prayers to pray, a new worship album to download.
A realisation hit that something needed to shock me from my monotonous cycles.
After three hours with these children, I witnessed a fullness of faith, passionate adoration, all out surrender, and nothing-spared love for Jesus, no matter what the situation they are in.
What if our faith and our spiritual gifts outpoured from our lives to bless, serve and reach others no matter the season of life we were in? Would this kind of faith be filled with gatherings, disciplines, and communities different than what we experience today? Can the list of Christian “To-Dos” for the day be enough to stay fully alive in Christ?
Though I am in need of this personal awakening and passion for Jesus, similar to that witnessed in these children in Kenya, there is a need for disciples of Christ to pursue spiritual disciplines in order to deepen our relationship and understanding of Christ. From prayer, reading the Bible, communion, repentance, fasting…it is through the disciplines of faith that we can develop roots deep enough to withstand the storms that life so often brings.
As an example of this, let me introduce you to the concept of The Aggregation of Marginal Gains. It is another business concept that ultimately means the small incremental improvements in any process will add up to a significant improvement when they are all combined together. This doctrine was witnessed through the British cycling team during the London 2012 Olympics in which they won 70% of the medals they competed for.
The man behind this victory, Sir Dave Brailsford, the performance director of British Cycling, explained the idea of marginal gains to the BBC in 2012: “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together. There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places. Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers? If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less. They are tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”
I believe this is how we can become more like Christ and avoid breaking down our faith into silos. Striving towards Christ on a daily basis and better using the gifts he has blessed us with, doesn’t have to mean huge sweeping changes.
So, what are those little tweaks, the small changes, the disciplines needed, that we can add together to become more Christ like?
Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the changes, we need to become more like Him. How can we rest in the grace of His love and become more overwhelmed and all-consumed in pursuit of Him?
At Nyumbani Children’s Orphanage, this looks like a smile on a child’s face, mourning friends with hands in the air in complete surrender to the Lord, and a relentless reliance upon a good Father who has blessed us, rather than dwelling upon what we do not have.
The children I met have inspired me to depart from the mundane routine tasks of faith which I find myself so familiar with, and instead to fervently pursue Christ in all areas of my life.
It is through finding small situations where I can praise Him, individual moments I can point others towards Him, and an hourly attitude change to reflect His grace.
“Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17
If you feel called to support the ministry of Nyumbani Children’s Orphanage, you have my word that they use each donation to be the hands and feet of Christ to these children on a daily basis.
INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
God created you with purpose and passion—learn how you can take the gifts He has given you and use them to advance His Kingdom in ways you never imagined.
Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?