Kenya: Seeking More to Serve
by Hailey Bryant, Journalist Intern
If you are looking for a meaningful summer experience, check out August mission team traveling to Kenya!
You may be familiar with the men’s service club on campus, Alpha Phi Chi, but did you know that they started their own mission trip last summer? Partnering with Made in the Streets (MITS), a ministry that focuses on providing for the needs of children living on the streets of Kenya, several members of the club spent two weeks of their summer serving in the best way they knew how. This summer, Biology Professor Dr. John Lewis and his team, now open to everyone, will return to the streets of Nairobi for what is sure to be another life changing two weeks.
The Made in the Streets ministry begins in the streets of Eastleigh, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, where kids are in dire need of guidance and care. Most inhabitants of the area are struggling with hunger, theft, and glue addiction, and MITS simply wishes to provide these young people with a chance at a new life. Their trained teams also look for young girls who are pregnant or have babies. Girls with babies may choose to live in MITS provided housing in Kamulu. Several members of the ministry live at the Eastleigh center and provide regular Bible studies at the streets bases and the center. Other members accompany youth to visit relatives in the hopes of reconciling broken families.
For the second year, Dr. Lewis will lead the group and says he learned a lot from his first trip last year, “We learned to fill in wherever there is a need,” he says. On why he is passionate about MITS, Lewis explains, “My passion for MITS stems from a desire to help children in a sustainable way.” What makes the ministry a little different is that it does not offer handouts so much as it aims to provide kids aged 13-17 with important life skills and an education. Lewis is proud to partner with an organization that, he says, “allows one’s life to be changed through hard work” and eventually “to participate in the local economy.”
Nathan Owens, this year’s student leader, deems his time spent in Kenya last summer to be life changing. He explains that his passion for MITS “came from being with the kids.” His presence on this year’s team was a decision made a while ago as he describes the night he lay in bed after a devotional with the boys. “I remember laying there and promising myself that this wouldn’t be the last time I was in Kenya,” Owens explains.
What should someone who signs on to the trip expect? Owens says their team will “host a camp of some type, maybe Bible or sports.” Along with having fun with the kids, team members may work on the ministry’s farm, cook, and help with facility maintenance. One thing that Owens discovered last summer, “Some of the work can be mundane, but it’s the kids that bring everything to life.”
When asked what kinds of people they are looking for as they complete their team, Lewis explains his ideal applicant as “someone who has a heart for service, who doesn't care if there's no electricity for a few days, who doesn't mind getting dirty with a bunch of street kids.” If you are worried that you do not have what it takes, don’t be, as Lewis says, “kids are kids wherever in the world you are and all they need is attention and love.”