Have you ever felt alone……even invisible to God? Sometimes as Christians we go through times of silence, where we feel isolated from our Lord. Just reading through a few Psalms reminds us that this is a normal experience and sets us seeking Him anew. Often this sense of withdrawal happens during times of trial or prolonged conflict, and we are left to trust God’s word, not our feelings. That’s where I was at back in February and March, while Thomas was sick.
I found myself battling again hard questions about God’s sovereignty, his care for us, his intimate interactions with us; questions about suffering, and yes, why me? It’s always too easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and comparison.
So, when I heard that our home church was making plans to send out a couple to help us, my heart was lifted, and new seeds of hope were planted.
Living in rural Kenya is isolating. There’s no way around this. It’s exciting, interesting, worthwhile and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity. But the struggle with loneliness is real! Many missionary biographies testify to the same problem.
Having Ian and Francie Rimmington come out for three months from our home church was a pure relief. They came fresh-faced and eager, put their arms around us and walked alongside us for three months. They became part of the mundane of our family life, doing everything from washing dishes, homeschooling, and fixing things around the house and on the compound.
Francie drove back and forth to numerous doctor’s appointments with me and put up with my driving! She sat around in hospital waiting rooms with me, grocery shopped with me in crazy markets and fancy grocery stores alike. We spent countless hours problem solving together in the evenings, discussing issues, listening to one another, laughing, sharing our burdens and joys…….fellowship.
To me this was the arm of my Lord, reaching around me; this was his answer to my seeking and wondering if he knew where we were and how we were doing.
God did not come down with a flash of lightning or a vision of comfort, barely even a special verse laid on my heart. He came through the living breathing members of our church body, who were willing to follow what God had laid on the hearts of our church family and Pastor.
We were also blessed with a visit from friends of ours from Victoria, B.C., who came with their five kids to share life with us for 10 days. They lugged 20 suitcases with them, most of it books to fill our shelves, and supplies and book bags and sports equipment for the orphans. What a gift from the Lord and his love to me is evident once again through the care of a friend.
So as we have had our cups filled up these last months, I am convicted about my own efforts to be the hands and feet of Christ to our neighbors, the orphans. As I think of the ways I have been blessed recently by the very practical support and physical presence of friends, I am more than ever convinced of our need to be intentional in visiting, mentoring and showing care for these kids, even if it’s just a laugh together, or kicking a ball around.
I’ll be honest…. it’s not always easy! A group of 50+ children with dusty hands and runny noses will descend upon me in a matter of minutes when I walk over to the orphanage on a Saturday, especially if I have markers or tennis balls, and if I’m not careful a riot could break out!
I usually leave my younger kids behind now because they get overwhelmed, although they do enjoy the babies. I will admit it takes courage for me to communicate and interact with so many kids who are clearly yearning for love. Where does one begin?
Aaron and Ian have been working with Joseph, a local Pastor and translator, to teach and disciple the kids on Friday nights and on Sunday afternoons. Pray as we plan to develop small group Bible studies for the older children, and as the social workers and Aaron counsel some of the children. Pray mostly for the Lord to soften their hearts to the gospel. It’s really the only answer to their hurts. These kids don’t need a soft gushy kind of gospel—they need hard answers to the hard questions of suffering and sin!
As we interact on a personal level throughout the week it is evident that their spiritual and emotional needs are immense. There seems no end to the heartaches they carry. I can see the hungry longing for love and belonging in their eyes. I usually go home somewhat rattled and perturbed.
Despite my qualms, I think Jesus would have us be his hands and feet; a hug, a smile, means so much to them, and may help convey the love of a Christ—a love that many have not received from their own parents.