13 May OVC Kenya: A Reflection
“Actually, you have to be a resident of Kenya for 7 years before you can legally adopt.”
Bernard’s words surprised me as we ate dinner with the team one night in Kenya. His statement surprised me not because I was hoping to return to the States now (or anytime in the near future) with a Kenyan child, but because it gave me hope. It gave me hope that, maybe, some others in Kenya were thinking about the same things Bernard and I were discussing – orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya and around the world.
Several months ago, Grace Church joined with Bernard Mwangi in a holistic child-support program that we refer to as OVC Kenya. This program is one that flows from the belief that children deserve a chance. They deserve a chance to grow, to learn, and to explore their world in the ways that God has created for them. Children are curious by nature – they are drawn to experiences filled with the freshness of colors, the warmth of adventure, and the heartwarming, butterflies-in-your-stomach, first-in-the-world feeling you get when you try and eventually master something new.
No matter where in the world you are, you see the truth of this in the bright eyes and eager smiles of young children. However, in certain times and places, both in our neighborhood and across the ocean in Kenya, we encounter children who are slow to smile and seem to carry the weight of the world on their small shoulders.
We have come to call them orphans and vulnerable children. With or without living parents, these children find themselves in life situations where they lack an adult to speak up for them, to protect them, and to provide for them. These children become vulnerable to abuse, hunger, and a variety of hurts. This cycle begins early in their lives and, ultimately, propels them down a path of lifelong brokenness and generational sin.
Through support programs like OVC Kenya, we are praying that the chains of generational sin and poverty will be broken – one child at a time. Child partners, as we call them, are given open doors into high level school systems with the opportunity to spend their days under the redeeming message of the Gospel. These children experience the Lord’s redemptive and restorative work through the ministry of these schools.
While we were in Kenya, we were able to visit the children currently part of the OVC Kenya program here at Grace Church. My heart was filled with joy as I listened to the children introduce themselves to us. I had seen pictures of these children and read their stories from my desk back in Greenville. But to sit with them, to hear their laughter, and to see the smiles on their faces was truly life changing. These were real children with both real struggles and real futures. Now, equipped with education and Truth, they have potential to become Kenya’s next generation of leaders.
So, why was I pleasantly surprised by Kenya’s law about adoption?
Because Kenya doesn’t need well-educated children that grow up in America. Kenya needs her children to grow up in Kenya to love her and to lead her. God is at work in Kenya; and He is working through Kenyan leaders, Kenyan professionals, and Kenyan pastors.
I truly believe God will continue to use this generation and ones to come through programs like OVC Kenya, opening doors that have been closed and shining light where there has been darkness.