Many in Turkana believe there is a God, but that he got bored and left. Now they wonder if they are left to fend for themselves against the harsh realities of life in the desert.
A two hour flight north of Nairobi (24 hours by bus!) a vast stretch of dry wilderness sprawls. It is wide open, remote, and barren, a few camels and goats roaming. Most would say there is nothing there. Nothing except some huts filled with Kenyans from the Turkana tribe.
This family welcomed our team and listened openly as our team spoke about Jesus.
But three buildings are also there, in the “middle of nowhere,” positioned in a U-shape. Each day, children walk through 100 degree heat, many of them over two miles, to come there. It is the newest center for Missions of Hope, a pioneering outpost. It is only six months old. CMF missionaries, teachers and social workers from Kenya have poured themselves into the work. Already 256 children preschool through third grade come here for school and to learn about life and Jesus.
And this week, fourteen Mountain people came, too. To teach and love and serve and laugh and dance and be with these new friends. So they will know that God is not bored, and He did not leave.
When you’re in the middle of nowhere, and it is so hot, and you are soooo tired, and the food is not what you would choose, and you’re sleeping with goat noises and bats in the hallway, and when you wake with dust in your nose and a crude shower, it might be easy to complain. But our team didn’t complain. The faces of these children light up at the sight of them. They are eager and welcoming of our medical team. All of them sing and learn together about the God who has not left, but has come in Jesus.
And somehow, the children and their parents and our team know this Jesus more deeply after a few days.
Many of these tribal leaders have children in the school. They came out to welcome and celebrate our team. Here Mountain team member Debbie Heise is hanging out with her new friends!
Our team was pulled into a tribal celebration and ceremony. My favorite quote: “My legs hurt from dancing with the Turkana!”
In such a remote place it is a gift to hear the voices of children ringing out. In a place where there is much death, it is beautiful to see the children on a path with God. They are full of life, in this dry place. They are young seeds, planted, as if by streams of living water. And they will grow. They will spring and bring forth fruit in season.
I doubt the children know the song, but the one that keeps coming to my head is by William Wadsworth Longfellow, whose lyrics announce the truth that the shining faces of young Jesus followers also proclaim in the dry and weary land of Turkana:
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”