Before taking my recent (and first time) trip to Nairobi to work with Swahiba Networks (SN), I prepared myself for what I might find. I knew there would be extreme poverty, seemingly unlivable living conditions, trash, bad smells, and people on top of people in the slums of Kibera. With this in mind, I embarked on a weeklong journey with 127 Worldwide – an organization whose mission is to restore hope to widows and orphans as described in Scripture. What all my preparation didn’t prepare me to see was that hope already exists in a place where it seems no American would ever imagine finding it.
Hope and joy were on the face of the widow who was beyond thankful to receive not only a brand new mattress, but a brand new BLUE colored mattress. Hope and joy were on the face of Bruce, a high school student in SN’s First Priority Program, who while escorting us to his home in the slums apologized for the conditions we had to travel through to get to his house. In the next moment with a big smile on his face, Bruce said, “But God is SO GOOD to us.” Hope and joy were also on the face of young Rebekah at Mary Faith Girls Center a home for girls rescued from abuse and trauma. While I was washing her feet to prepare them for new shoes, Rebekah told me that she knows Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior.
Hope and joy were on the faces of the Swahiba staff each day as they poured into the lives of those living in Kibera. Each staff member has been personally shaped by the work of Peter (founder and director of SN) and the programs at Swahiba. Now they are playing a role in replacing the hopeless cycle often found in slums with the cycle of hope found only in Christ. In Kibera, extreme difficulties exist, lack is a harsh reality—but the joy of the Lord is where these people find their strength. Christians know that true hope and joy are only found in the Lord, not possessions or good circumstances, but we can all use a reminder. What I found in the slums of Kibera was that the Lord is at work in the most difficult of circumstances. He is using Swahiba Networks as his hands and feet and mouthpiece for the spread of his gospel and the care of widows and orphans. I have seen it firsthand, and I won’t forget it.
Laura Floyd is a native of Florida, U.S. but currently resides in Wake Forest, North Carolina where she is pursuing a Masters of Divinity in Christian Ministry from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has been a Christ-follower since she was thirteen and enjoys teaching and discipling others.