When God asked us to start a maternity home in Kenya, Africa, we had no idea what we were doing.
That hasn’t changed much.
But for the last 18 months, we’ve had one goal in mind: to help without hurting.
“Unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do, he will never do all he can do.” Henry Drummond
It’s more difficult than you think. The easier option would be to create an American home in a third world country. But from the beginning, our vision has been to empower and employ local Christians to do the work, to create a Kenyan vision and a Kenyan home. It’s been beyond challenging in so many ways, especially since there isn’t a home like Mercy House in Nairobi, that we are aware of.
And anyone who enters this home will see that it’s exactly that, a home.
It’s not an institution or an organization, it’s a family.
If you know me at all, you know I’m extremely protective of our Kenyan family. But I also know that none of this has been done alone. Ultimately, it’s up to God to provide and take care of them.
You won’t find any American employees (or any plans to add any). You won’t find American food or American influence. There’s nothing wrong with Americans, but our Kenyan friends look at us like a big brother. In many cases, we bring the mindset to offer aid and not development. Aid is good when there’s a devastating earthquake, but aid that isn’t temporary breeds dependence. We can easily influence consumerism and convenience among other things.
“One of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make-by far-is applying relief to situations in which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention.” from When Helping Hurts
Mercy House is inundated with requests from people to visit the home and meet the girls. We love the idea of visiting sponsors, but we are implementing a pretty strict visitor policy to protect our girls and our guests. We aren’t bringing teams in to repair or construct because we don’t want to take a job away from someone who lives here or sending over supplies for product-making. If any needs can be met locally, that’s the priority.
We are very careful not to give our girls too many conveniences…a washing machine seems like a great idea until a girl returns to daily life and doesn’t know how to do laundry. Offering gifts and wardrobes and too much stuff, only makes transitioning out of the home in a few years harder.
“Our relationship to the materially poor should be one in which we recognize that both of us are broken and that both us need the blessing of reconciliation. Our perspective should be less about how we are going to fix the materially poor and more about how we can walk together, asking God to fix both of us.” from When Helping Hurts
[Maureen stopping on the side of the road to barter and buy vegetables. The farmers tried to triple the price because of her white friends in the van]
This trip has confirmed in more ways than one, that our beloved Kenyan family doesn’t need more of us. They just need more of Jesus. We see our physical presence in this home being minimized in the future. We can offer Jesus by simply loving and offering development and empowerment.
[Maureen and I in our 6 hour meeting, working on a 3 year plan]
Offering Him is the only way to help without hurting.
*If you feel like God is calling you to do something in another culture, I highly recommend reading When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikker. I can’t answer if what we’re doing is replicable, but I urge you to seek God’s face and I’m confidant He will lead.