Former gun-toting gangster becomes pastor - C@R
Transformed in Kibera Slum, Kenya - C@R
As I write this blog, all I can think about is taking a nice
hot shower. Which does not speak very well of my character.
It's night time in Nairobi, Kenya--where I'm tapping out
this commentary sitting outside a guest room.
Just hours ago, we trudged through the winding streets of
Kenya's infamous "Kibera Slum."
Kibera bears the unfortunate distinction of being Africa's largest
slum. More than one million people call
this filthy place home. It's twisted
paths and shadowy alleys form a hard mud maze sufficient, I imagine, to
befuddle the latest GPS.
Kibera is the place to go when you have no place to go. Let me give you a couple pictures so you can
better envision the place.
A flap of tattered plastic crinkles in the breeze, concealing
what appears to be a primitive outhouse.
But the slivered streams of wet mud all around suggest many folks do
their business wherever they happen to be.
This notion was confirmed as, from the corner of my eye, I watched a
child relieve herself a few feet away from me as I was recording an
interview. The smell of human filth is
the perfume of choice in Kibera, poverty's poster child slum. And one must be at all times vigilant while
walking, lest a foot twist in the rutted path, or slip into the slime of human
But there are other smells.
Something burning. Something
rotting. Something frying, as street vendors attempt to carve out a few
By contrast, observe snapshot #2.
Down a twisted rutted path strewn--as all paths here are--with
garbage of all kinds, we came to a most unusual sight: children sitting at
crude desks working on school lessons.
They were reading science experiments--outloud--to practice their
English before a devoted, if not determined, instructor. The school is an
unlikely success story in a narrative of negatives.
It is the vision of a local pastor whose own testimony is
amazing. Formerly a gun-toting gangster, he came to Christ after surviving a
hail of police bullets that claimed nine of his fellow gang members.
Spared--and scared--he surrendered to Christ and ultimately
became a pastor. He and his wife have
six children of their own. Yet walking
through the Kibera slum, he could not escape the empty faces of the orphaned
children he saw.
(Every single day in Kibera, sick or unwanted babies are
dumped over a wall. Or left
deserted. If they don't die the first
night, they usually survive, to join the growing ranks of Kibera's
The pastor felt he had to do something for these
orphans. So he adopted one. Then another.
And another. And another.
And... ultimately, he and his wife moved
to the slum to care for these refuse refugees.
As we piled back into our car and bounced along the road
taking us out of Kibera, I confess I was glad to be leaving. Glad to be leaving
the noise and the smells and the utter brokeness that describes this place.
Gotta wash those hands.
Gotta sanitize those germs.
But Kibera isn't an experience to wash away. It's a wound that needs healing. And just think how much healing the Awana
message might offer this place.
God forgive me for wanting my own hot shower more than the
relief of Kibera's million dirty souls.
God grant that this place be filled with ten thousand kids
who grow up in an Awana program--right in the Kibera slum--to "rightly
divide the Word of Truth."