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When I Grow Up

When I  Grow Up

This week I was supposed to be flying to Nairobi, Kenya - but Covid (a phrase we are all getting very tired of).Outside of working with churches (and the fun in helping Crosswalk!) I lead a non-profit that works with some local organizations in various countries that help empower children out of extreme poverty called When I Grow Up.When I tell people that they say - 'that's an awesome job', and I blush because I don't do any of the work in the slums - we just try and bring the funding to make it happen. I don't think I would last more than a week trying to work and live in the slums where our global partners do an incredible work and help hundreds of children and their families. They are some of my heroes.
So, this week I am meant to be in the Huruma slum, Nairobi, Kenya. Huruma is Kenya's third largest slum - 600,000 people living in 2sq miles.In the middle of it is a local organization led by some guys who could have left the slum (they all have High School and College education) but they have chosen to remain to help change the lives of hundreds of the slums poorest children.
Alongside trying to provide funding for them, we are friends.In fact to all our Global Partners, relationships are more precious than money.We sit and eat together, we pray together, we worship together, we cry together, we learn together, we laugh together.
And so Covid has hurt badly. To not have been there for over two years is painful for our dear friends and for ourselves.WhatsApp messaging and FaceTime or Zoom is good but a poor substitute for sharing life together.
But it's not just to see my friends that I'm longing to get on a plane again and fly for 19hrs to hang with them. I need to go because too easily I forget.
I forget that people live with raw sewage running outside their door, even seeping through their dirt floors into where they eat and sleep.I forget that clean drinking water is a luxury and the majority of people in Huruma have no running water and can't afford clean drinking water.I forget that one meal (let alone three meals) is rare for millions of our brothers and sisters.I forget that education is not free or even available to over 58 million children!I forget that human dignity is a privilege which is such a damning indictment on humankind!I forget that where you live does determine if you live - a huge injustice that few speak out about.I forget that for many people they literally are living a hell on earth - I've walked it, I’ve smelled it, I’ve cried in it. Millions of people trapped in the prison of dark and desperate slums with no way out.
Despite having been 39 times in Huruma and many other times in other slums and having had sleepless nights and venting holy anger (and unfortunately some times unholy anger) at what slums are like and how this is so wrong - I can too easily forget.
How can that be?How can I be so moved and so disturbed at what I've seen and experienced and then forget!
Maybe I'm still trying to answer that question. Maybe the only answer I have is the Apostle Paul's answer in Romans 7 about not doing what he wants and doing what he doesn’t want - "oh wretched man that I am!"  I'm trying to be a saint and trying even more at being less of a sinner.
Thankfully come July, Bethany and I will be, God-willing, on the ground in Huruma and with our good friends. I know it will nourish my soul and my sanctification.
I'm hoping that for you this year there is a time, a place, a person who helps you be more of a saint and less of a sinner too.
Gilbert

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