If you are a part of WCC please read this post. If you are not please read this post anyway. It’s pretty incredible what God is doing.
The word gospel literally means “good news.” The gospel in its most literal sense is an announcement that is good news for all who hear. It’s an announcement so compelling that it always absolutely provokes response. Imagine sitting in Duck Donuts and someone stands up and says, “Donuts on the house!” The crowd doesn’t stay quiet and simply nod their heads in agreement. No, they shout in agreement and clap! Who doesn’t want free donuts (especially the one with bacon and chocolate…but I digress)? That would be good news!
On behalf of the leadership this Sunday I was privileged to announce good news (much more substantial than free donuts!). But first, the bad news that the good news will turn upside down.
Many of us at WCC sponsor children through Christian Relief Fund. If you do not know they are a grassroots compassion relief organization dedicated to providing food, clean water, education, spiritual training, healthcare and disaster relief to the glory of God worldwide in over 30 countries. Francis and his wife Consolata are dear friends of mine. Francis serves as the Director of the schools and medical facilities Eldoret Kenya where some of us have children. He is also a pastor. Day-in day-out Francis lives to tell and show the people of Eldoret the gospel of God’s kingdom and that no one, not even AIDS orphans, are lost on King Jesus. When you and I sponsor a child for $35 per month they receive all the food, clothing, education and medical care they need to live in hope. We join God in changing their circumstances just enough that, by His grace, they have a chance to live a different life for the good of their people and the glory of God. Some of these students have graduated to become medical professionals and government officials. One CRF student at a time is changing Kenya.
When Francis and Consolata were visiting here I asked Francis how the work in Eldoret was going. He told me of all the incredible things God is doing. Successful schools creating successful graduates. New wells for clean water. Growing churches and new churches committed to making disciples and living on mission with God. This is good news!
Then there were stories like these.
Ziphorah is an AIDS orphan who attends the school in Eldoret. Her father, mother and sister died of HIV AIDS. Since then Ziphorah was sponsored by someone through CRF. Now Ziphorah has the money to go to school, get medical care, get food and clean water. But the $35 per month isn’t enough to house her. There are no orphanages for children like Ziphorah. She is homeless, alone sleeping on the streets or what the people call “the slum.” Just recently while walking to school (about an hour away from the slums), she was taken by a neighbor. He mistreated and beat her but she was able to escape. Every day she comes to school with these scars. As they have many times, a teacher decided she could stay with her while she heals. Once healed Ziphorah will have no where else to go.
Celestine is also a sponsored child and lived in the street with her grandfather util recently when her grandfather disappeared, leaving her and her sister all alone. Just recently some men captured them and sexually abused her sister. Now her sister is pregnant while still pursuing an already paid for education. Yet neither of them have a place to call home.
Francis, the teachers, and members of the local Churches take as many of these kids in as they can. Today there are just under 200 CRF sponsored orphans who have everything they need to have a different life but do not have a home—no place to do homework, or play, or rest their head. They are homeless. I am told that even though many of these children are sponsored, because they are homeless some end up missing.
The reign of sin and death has stolen these children’s parents. It’s stolen their dignity. For many it has robbed them of hope and life. But the good news of the reign of grace through King Jesus says it doesn’t have to be that way. As witnesses of this grace and as God’s gracious people, Williamsburg Christian Church can make sure these 200 homeless orphans and the many that come after can know the good news that God’s kingdom is breaking in and Jesus is life-giving Lord.
So this Sunday I announced on behalf of our leadership the opportunity to build the children’s home. Now think about this. When we were exploring the possibility of adding classroom space to the church building it was going to cost upward to $250,000. That would give us approximately 8 new class rooms. $250,000 to make our space more comfortable for our children 4-6 hours per week. Churches do it all the time. But, for less than half that price we could join God in building an children’s home for 200 homeless children that would make their lives more livable 168 hour per week (24/7). For $105,000 we could change lives for countless orphans for generations and break a cycle of poverty and hopelessness for the good of many and to the praise of God’s glory!
Our church family is postured for things like this. As a couple of people said to me yesterday, “This is in our DNA.” Think about it. In just four years we have witnessed God lead us into a holy adventure. As a faith community we walk along side many in our church family living in homelessness, some even to self-sustainability. Now those living in homelessness in Williamsburg Virginia find community with us. We launched a non-profit called 3e Restoration Inc to equip, empower and encourage other Churches to do the same. Each winter we join with Community of Faith Mission (COFM) to turn the Church building into a winter shelter two weeks out of the year. We have many living through mental illness who despite being asked to leave a couple of other local churches in town found welcome and acceptance with us. Were it not for a group home founded by Christians most of them would be homeless. Over the past four years we have sponsored 45 AIDS orphans through CRF. No wonder that God in His infinite wisdom asks us to be the ones to house 200 orphans in a different country.
The children’s home will be called Tarakwa Children’s Home. I am told that the Tarakwa is a cedar tree used as refuge for Kenyans to shelter them from the hot sun and torrential rains. It makes sense that the children’s home would be called Tarakwa.
If you are a part of the Williamsburg Christian Church family (or if you are not, please join us in prayer) this is what we are going to do this week. Wednesday (Oct. 29) through Friday (Oct. 31) we will join together in fasting and praying from sun-up to sun-down. We give the Lord our full attention and seek His wisdom as to the how we should get this done. It is not a question of if we should do it, God has already answered that in Scripture and we see it in His own heart.* It is only a question of how.
This is good news! God has invited us to join Him in what He is doing half a world away in the lives of children we will never meet!
I know this is a lot of money for church our size and one as socio-economically diverse as us. Just remember, two years ago we were staring at a building debt of $145,000. Feeling the weight of this debt we committed as a church to raise the money together and pay it off so we could be free of debt and more faithfully join God in His pursuit of restoring lives and making all things new. We believed the Lord would provide. And he did, with a few thousand dollars left over! As my dear friend Thomas McCormick has said when quoting the psalmist, “God has cattle on a thousand hills so money is no object for Him.”
What do you say, WCC? Can we believe God to get this done and join Him in what He is doing half a world away? God has announced to us that we can bring good news–gospel–to children in Eldoret Kenya. Pray and seek the Lord so that in our response to this announcement we may join God in redeeming the children’s disgrace as we bear witnesses to God’s amazing grace in King Jesus!
See ya Sunday! And stay posted because there is more to come…
* James 1:27; Matthew 25:33-46; Luke 4:16-19; Psalm 10:14, 18; 68:5; 82:3; 146:9; Isaiah 1:17-23; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Matthew 22:38-39