God With Us

God With Us

I grew up in Kenya and have always longed to return. But for years I pushed aside every chance that came my way because it seemed I’d be going for selfish reasons. In 2001 I traveled to Kenya for a Hope Church mission trip. A two hour visit to Kinyago-Dandora Primary School changed the course of my life, though I didn’t know it at the time. It started a relationship for me, and for Hope Church, with Kenya Children’s Fund (KCF) and Kinyago-Dandora Schools (KDS) in Nairobi.

A couple of years later sitting by a tin shack in the slum I heard a boy recite this poem: 

Who is this Emmanuel?     He is a teacher.  He shows us how to live. 

Who is this Emmanuel?     He is a doctor.  He heals all kinds of sickness. 

Who is this Emmanuel?     He is a true friend.  He sticks closer than a brother.

Who is this Emmanuel?     He is the Savior of the world.  He is my Savior.

Emmanuel. “God with us.” The boy spoke with great personal conviction. He lived in harsh conditions, but he had experienced Jesus’ love and guidance in his life, and saw his value in Christ.

I started thinking about what “God with us” means in the garbage dumps and dark corners of the world. Some like this boy radiate God’s presence in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations. But many in these slums don’t know God is with them. Some are quite desperate, willing to do anything to survive. They feel worthless. This makes these places very dangerous. God is there and cares deeply for them, but they need their eyes opened to recognize His presence. Sometimes it helps for them to see “Jesus with skin on.”  

Soon after meeting this boy, I was invited to join the KCF staff, and so in a small way I’ve joined God at work in this particular slum. The KDS employees show the Dandora community that God is with them and that he cares about them. They provide food, health care, and education in a Christ-centered environment, and pour themselves into the lives of students and their families.  

Each of us has a distinctive story and places where we touch others’ lives. How can you be “Jesus with skin on” in your unique circumstances? Who do you see on a regular basis who needs to know God’s presence? How can you show His love for them?

Peggy Turnbull, Missions Coordinator