It was a late arrival and my daughters and I had never been in the Nairobi airport. We navigated our way through customs and baggage claim and headed for the door, hoping someone would be there to receive us at midnight. As I looked around, there she was. The beautiful blond-headed girl whose face was familiar to me. In an instant, I went from uncertainty to confidence, knowing that even though we were sojourners in a foreign land, we were safe.
Allie (Passion Partners staff member & trip leader) had been in the country several times before. She was familiar. Although it was late, she greeted me, and I could easily identify it. There was Jesus, all over her face.
We got to the van, and I was introduced to a young Kenyan man named Chris. Chris is on staff with Swahiba Youth Networks, the partner ministry of Passion Partners based in Nairobi. I greeted him and saw it a second time. Though well past midnight, he still had a certain sparkle in his eye. It was clearly Jesus.
We reached our destination and fell into bed. The next morning there it was again when I met Peter Abungu, the Founder & Director of Swahiba Youth Networks. I spotted it almost instantly…the common thread…the look on his face. There was a glimmer in his eyes as we exchanged polite introductions. It was Jesus shining from him.
As I continued to see Christ in the faces of those I met, a portion of Scripture came to mind. Revelation 5:9 speaks of Jesus’ representatives from every nation, saying, “And they sang a new song saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”.
I was seeing the fruit of Christ’s work on the cross right before my eyes. And it continued throughout our journey…
On Sunday morning, we set out from Nairobi and trekked several hours over bumpy roads to a church in Maasai Mara to worship alongside the people of the Maasai tribe where Candice was teaching. These are a people who have protected and preserved their culture with great pride, and so, while we did not share a common language or dress or custom, we could praise the God who was familiar to us all…the same God who delivered His people from bondage. The same God who created our earth. The same God who nailed His son to a cross so that we could be grafted into his kingdom. The God of the Maasai and the God of the eleven Americans who stood with them that day. On the side of a mountain, with more familiar faces, we all worshiped Yahweh.
A few days later, we set out for the village of Ohuru, Kenya, where Passion Partners has funded the construction and operation of a rural medical clinic. We pray the clinic is a place where the people of this community can come to receive quality medical care and physical healing. But just as importantly, that they see a clearer picture of who Jesus, the One who “will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick…” (Ez. 34:16a). As I watched a myriad of people standing in line to receive treatment, I knew that this clinic would be a place where people could come and find help. I saw more “familiar faces” as I walked through the clinic making observations and praying that the Lord would be glorified as people entered through each door.
I met two men who had traveled from Nairobi to help out at the clinic. Their names were (both) James. As we exchanged introductions, they each gave testimony that they were believers and I saw it again…Jesus in more familiar faces. And the Lord reminded me that even though my time in Kenya was short, someday I would spend eternity with these very people…
all familiar faces…
all just sojourners…
all seeking our Homeland.
The most familiar face of all was that of a woman who we fondly call Grandmother Joan. Grandmother Joan is 94. Being that the average life of a Kenyan woman is 64.5 years, it’s obvious that God had called her out for a specific plan. Grandmother Joan is a prayer warrior. She had prayed for years that there would be a clinic built on her land for people who needed help. I watched Grandmother’s face as she interacted with Candice, the founder of Her Passion ministries. Her eyes were full of Jesus. She was so thankful that we had traveled half way across the world to be in her yard for the opening of the clinic. She said how blessed she was by our being there, but I am certain that we were even more blessed just to know this special woman. She has a certainty of hope in Christ Jesus. Yes, she was the most familiar face. One whom I thanked God for. One with whom I’ll live for Eternity.
As each of you go about your daily lives, please be sure to slow down and enjoy the familiar faces that cross your path. You may never travel to Africa, but there are those who need Jesus right outside your front door. Live intentionally, and most of all, be that easily identifiable “familiar face.”
Thank you Candice, Raeanne, Allie, Chris, Geny Kate, Lauren, Sophie, Maddie, Annabelle, and David for letting your light shine on this trip!
Her Passion ministries Board Chair & Passion Partner