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Happy New Year!
Posted On 12/18/2009 19:19:42 by carissann

It’s always strange adjusting to the new year – I always feel the last one went by far too quickly. But in my opinion, each year gets better, so bring on 2010!


Admittedly, I cannot believe where I am at the close of 2009. When God first brought Empower Africa up in my life last March, I had no idea that by December I would be living in Portland, working at my home church, and would have just returned from Kenya. But God’s ways are so much higher than our own!


Looking back, it’s so clear how He was orchestrating everything. When I first moved into the Empower Africa offices, I found it so difficult to capture the heart of this ministry. I saw what was being done, and I understood the need existed, but I did not have the heart or passion necessary to simply throw myself into the work. I tried to conjure the motivation, but it takes a personal experience to make a lasting impression on one’s heart. And that’s just what God gave me.


I was with the Kenyan people less than two weeks, but they touched my heart. We spent our second to last day in one of the Ushindi orphanages – a ministry with which we’ve recently partnered. For two hours we handed out gifts and clothes sent by the children’s sponsors here in the states. I cannot properly convey the smiles and excitement in that room. Children were pushing and scrambling through lines to find something that would fit and they could claim as their very own. One of the “mammas” of the home pulled me aside near the end and pointed out a 12 year-old boy in the front row of chairs. He sat quietly, his attention entirely on the gift-giving in front of him. But he never jumped up with the other boys to make his claim. Mamma quietly told me that he was HIV positive, and so was not allowed to be jostled or bumped. Instead, he had to sit patiently and hope something was left when the chaos subsided. I quickly made sure he received a gift, but as I walked away from Mamma, my first tears of the trip hit me. Even as I write this, I can feel the tears gathering. It was that moment, watching that young man, that Africa touched my heart.


Now I know why I do what I do each day. I pray and work with a sense of purpose, realizing that the stories and needs are real – they are serious. Both the young and old need the hope of Jesus Christ as much as they need food and clothing and water. While most walk away from such an experience wondering how to even begin helping, I am in a unique position. I CAN help. I CAN make a difference in the very lives that touched mine.


As the new year comes, I pray that God continues His gracious work in both my heart and yours. I pray you and your family are blessed and that you continually hear His voice behind you saying “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). Who knows where He’ll take us in 2010?

Tags: New Year Africa Kenya Orphan Aids Changed


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