The Church, with a capital C, is the Body of Christ. It is the sum of all the churches, all the Christians around the world. In 1 Corinthians 12, the Bible compares the Church to a human body. Each person in the Church has a role just as each part of our human bodies has a specific, God-given function and purpose.
If you are a Christ-follower, you have a place not only in your local congregation but also in the global Church. As a missionary, I have a place in my local church in PA and a role in my community church here at Tenwek and a purpose for the global Church. Last week I was able to witness all these elements come together in several beautiful ways.
It was a crazy week from the beginning. As many of you know from our facebook updates, we were contacted by the Weavers, a missionary family from PA who are serving in Kisumu, Kenya. They started following our blogs when they were preparing for their big move. They were intending to find packing tips, etc. Instead, they found our story of valley walking. Darla, the wife and mother of the family, even commented on one of my posts. She was expecting their ninth child. I won’t reprint their entire story because they have a wonderful blog that tells the events in their own words. I’ll just say that they contacted us for Christian medical advice after finding out their unborn daughter had anencephaly, a terminal diagnosis. After speaking with us, they decided to return to Tenwek to induce labor and deliver their baby at our home.
When we all prayed together and decided on the plan, we anticipated a 2-3 day journey together. God, however, had much different plans. The Weavers lived at Tenwek for a full week. And the Tenwek community became the Church to them. From cooking meals to providing entertainment, each person on the compound rallied around this family and the friends from Kisumu who came to support them. Perhaps the most beautiful display of God’s love came from the children. The Tenwek kids made extra efforts to play with the visitors, to make them feel welcome and to share with them. Noah, after hearing that baby Hadassah had died, wanted to know if he could talk to his friends about Hannah. I was thankful to be a part of this Tenwek community.
Many of you participated in this journey too. Many of you became prayer warriors for both the Weavers and us. Because you could not be the hands and feet of Christ, you became the mouth. You got down on your knees and spoke prayers on our behalf. I was thankful and honored to be a part of this much larger community.
After a fun Kenyan lunch with our guests on their last full day at Tenwek, we headed up to the Kipagenga for another celebration. This time, we were honoring the guards of our neighborhood. We enjoyed chai, mandazi, and bread. We gave out gifts and certificates of appreciation and congratulated the men and women for their years of service. It was a great time to say THANK YOU to these men and women who serve God by keeping us missionaries safe. I was proud to be a partner with these Kenyans in God’s work here at Tenwek.
The Weavers got up and left Saturday morning. It was a bittersweet good-bye. I think most of us (and them) wished we could be neighbors much longer. We promised to visited them in Kisumu, and we invited them back to Tenwek under happier terms. We prayed (and continue to pray) that their transition back to life as normal will be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Shortly after they left, I attended a graduation. There is a local sewing ministry for single women. The ‘momma’ of the ministry teaches the women how to knit and/or sew, counsels them (she’s a trained counselor), and teaches them about the Bible. Last Saturday, they graduated! It was a big celebration complete with graduation gowns, speeches (one by me!), singing and dancing and a sermon. I was proud to be honored despite my tiny part in this ministry. (My speech was very impromptu and short…It took me quite off guard…Rookie mistake!) I am proud to support this important ministry to women, and I look forward to seeing how God uses it to further His kingdom.
I couldn’t stay for the entire celebration though, because we were hosting the interns for a pizza party to celebrate their upcoming graduation. I made and decorated my first cake since my little cake decorating class. I baked 6 pizzas. We served chips and soda. It was a simple, fun little party. The interns were so appreciative and seemed to really like my cake! I am delighted to be a part of Tenwek Hospital and the way it is training up new generations of Bible-believing Kenyan health professionals.
The Church sometimes is accused of being hypocritical. I wish I could say that accusation wasn’t true, but I can’t. The truth is that the Church is made up of sinners, people redeemed by God’s grace and the blood of Christ, but imperfect people bent toward selfishness and judgmental attitudes. I hope my little summary of last week proves that the Church is still beautiful despite its faults. Christians, when they are humble and obedient before the Lord, are capable of great things. They can make a grieving family feel loved. They can celebrate the servants who often go unnoticed. They can save at-risk people from themselves, destruction and hell. They can disciple the next generation of Christ-followers. Indeed, I am proud to be one member of the Body of Christ!
Praises and Prayer Requests:
1. Praise God for His great provision. We praise God that He provided for us and the Weavers throughout the week. We praise God for Kristen (the OB who stayed to care for Darla and the baby), for endless supplies of food, for endurance, for househelpers and friends.
2. Praise God for days of rest! Boy, did we need a lazy day with no plans! And we took it Sunday. We’re so thankful that God ordained one day of the week for rest.
3. Praise God for my sweet children. I was so impressed by their sympathy and compassion toward the Weaver children. God is working in their little hearts, and it’s precious to witness.
4. Please continue to pray for the Weavers as they walk through this valley of grief.
5. Pray for the people who serve at Tenwek. From the guards to the doctors, we all need to keep our eyes on the Father and the work He has given us here. Pray for unity among us. Pray that we see the common vision and that we are committed to being the part of the Body God has given us.
6. Pray for the graduates of the sewing ministry and the graduating interns. Pray that God will direct them as they anticipate the next step God has for them.
7. Pray for the many people who are suffering loss. We’ve heard of miscarriages, sudden deaths of children, loss of jobs, etc. this week. We are overwhelmed but God is working in it all. To HIM be the praise and honor!
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NLT