On a recent trip to Kenya as a trustee for ARDF, I experienced what it means to walk hand in hand for the sake of Christ with our brothers and sisters across the globe. My experience was life-altering and has given me renewed passion for the work Jesus has given the Anglican Church in North America to share the Gospel as we offer a hand up to those in need. This work is characterized by partnership between ACNA and the Global South in the truest sense of the word.
It is partnership that transforms lives.
As I sat at the same table with archbishops from Africa, the Southern Cone and Southeast Asia, leaders who serve as ARDF Global Trustees, I understood for the first time that this global communion we are a part of is built on actual relationships with believers across the globe. These archbishops and their people have sacrificed much to support the birth and growth of ACNA. They have done so out of their love for and unwavering commitment to Jesus and His Gospel.
Again and again, these courageous leaders clasped my hands, looked into my eyes and said “my sister” in a poignant expression of our unity in Christ. Their loyalty to Jesus and to us is strong. And it was with grateful hearts and great joy that we discussed and approved projects to provide clean water in South Sudan, and to build safe housing for girls seeking education in Tanzania. Hand in hand for the Gospel, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
We traveled to central Kenya to visit a micro-hydroelectric power installation in the middle of beautiful tea fields on the slopes of Mount Kenya. It was a bright, sunny day and the landscape was scattered with women carrying big baskets on their backs. They moved in quiet harmony down orderly rows, gracefully picking leaves and placing them in their baskets–tea leaves that might fill a cup I will hold in my hands during my morning quiet time? I like to think so.
Men in the village who volunteer to run this simple power installation led us down a steep, slippery narrow path that snaked down a six story drop beside a magnificent waterfall. A pipe captures water flow and its power produces energy through a simple generator in a hut at the bottom of the hill that serves 100 families.
And with that electric power mothers cook, children have light for homework, lives are changed. ARDF is hoping to use this energy technology in other parts of Africa, especially in the Congo where as few as 10% of the people have access to electric power. As we climbed back up the slippery path, a villager saw the panic in my eyes as I realized the muddy slope was more than my flimsy shoes could manage. He said,
Give me your hands. When the climb is hard, we must hold hands.”
His words were and are profound truth. For these people the climb is often hard, just as it sometimes is for us in North America. And so we must hold hands. We visited a greeting card production studio at the edge of Kibera slum, the largest urban slum in Africa.
Mothers and daughters from the slum use their hands to make beautiful recycled paper from cast-off corrugated boxes, shredding, soaking, pressing, drying, and then creating beautiful images to make greeting cards. Sales of their products raise awareness and generate income for their families.
On our last day in Kenya, we flew on a small plane to the Northwest corner of the country, near the border of Uganda. Our destination was the home diocese of Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya. We arrived to discover a region in turmoil: just the night before a gang with machetes maimed and murdered villagers in their homes.
We accompanied the Archbishop to a place where survivors and villagers were gathered so he could pray with them, that the light of hope might pierce the darkness of tragedy. Heads were bowed, hands were clasped in prayer while soldiers stood by with their hands gripping machine guns. As I watched this scene unfold, these words from Scripture settled in my heart:
The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” (John 1:5).
We drove down primitive dirt roads just a few miles to the simple two-room hut where Wabukala was born and grew up. His elderly parents and some family members greeted us and sang hymns and prayed in Swahili as we held hands in a circle.
The archbishop’s mother was slight and bent, her hands were worn from age and years of hard work. But her face was radiant with the joy of Christ and her voice lifted above all the others as she praised her Savior.
My heart as a mother connected with hers, and I used my hands to wipe away tears that streamed down my face. This mother’s faith, in a simple hut in Africa, had changed her family’s future and the future of her country. Her son now leads at least 4.5 million Anglicans across Kenya. He serves to unify Christians in His country and is chairman of the worldwide GAFCON movement.
Many hands are stretched out toward us in North America from our brothers and sisters in the majority world. They reach out to support us as we stand for Christ, and they hold out gifts of wisdom, welcome and love.
Ours is the kind of partnership that will change the world and it is what ARDF is all about. Our fellow Anglicans across the globe pour out to us even though their own need for security, water, food and education is grinding and real. The climb is indeed a difficult one.
So won’t you join me and ARDF as we reach back and link our hands with theirs? It’s all about a hand up, not a hand out. And it’s only possible because of the hands that still hold scars proving that Jesus died to save us, one and all. In His hands….hand in hand for the Gospel.
Willa Kane, ARDF Board Member
Pictures from the trip:
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