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5 Ways to Pray for the Staff in Kenya

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“Be strong and courageous,” God commanded Joshua. “Do not be afraid or discouraged.” How impossible that must have felt at that moment. Joshua was just given the task to lead the Israelites to possess their land, which would mean strong opponents, long battles, and even longer odds. On top of that, he had just witnessed the death of the former leader, Moses, who had failed this same task. Being afraid would be a normal response.

So God gave Joshua a series of instructions: Be strong and courageous; Meditate day and night on the Book of the Law; Do not be frightened or discouraged. And while Joshua does those things, God promises that He will not leave him or forsake him. The ESV study notes on this passage say, “The Hebrew terminology used in these assurances has nothing to do with worldly wealth or worldly success, but has everything to do with accomplishing one’s mission and acting with keen insight in any circumstance that presents itself.”

I can’t think of a task more important, or in more need of wisdom, than leading the kids of Mulango and Kitui. The staff have become Dad and Mom to over 200 kids who have varied life experiences. The kids come to the home at different ages and for different reasons, but they all look to the staff for stability, comfort, provision, guidance, and love. Wow. That is an overwhelming task. But if you talk to the staff, it is something they feel called to. It is not “just a job” to them. Like Joshua, it is their God-given task.

So what can we do to support our staff at Mulango and Kitui? Here are five things from Joshua 1 we can pray for the staff:
1. Strength and courage to accept their task
2. Diligence to meditate on and to obey God’s Word
3. Resistance to fear
4. Wisdom in every circumstance
5. Open hands for the outcome

Thank you for partnering with us and pouring yourself out in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Kenya.

-By Lora Allston

Thoughts on a Proverb

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Proverbs 31:8-9

Open your mouth for the mute,

for the rights of all who are destitute.

Open your mouth, judge righteously,

defend the rights of the poor and needy. (ESV)

As I read a familiar chapter in the Bible that is usually associated with the character of a godly woman, I came across two verses that stuck out to me. They are written to the king directing him to consider and stand up for the poor and needy. While I may not be a king, I want to head to the true King. Seek Him. We know that justice is at the very heart of who our God is. How do we emulate Him? Fight for the things He would fight for? Ask Him, seek Him, and follow in the way He leads. We are completely dependent on Him. We need Him to align our hearts with His heart for justice. We need His wisdom to know how to act, and then His courage to do it.

Africa – A Day in Mulango

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Holly Kehlenbeck visited Kenya for the first time last September. She shares her thoughts on the Mulango Children’s Home.

Our first day at the Mulango Children’s Home was certainly one to be remembered. After our more than memorable courtyard greeting, the home’s manager Festus, along with several staff members, led us on a full-scale tour of the property. We explored the rich smells of the kitchen and watched as Joseph, the home’s head cook, stood over the wood cooker preparing the next meal. Now that’s work, people. Daily preparing three meals for over 150 children and staff members. Neatly stacked bags of rice and grain sat in one corner, while fresh lettuce and eggs adorned the other.

I remember being led into one of the large dorm rooms that housed a number of the younger boys. I took in the neatly made bunk beds, a bright blue mosquito net hovering above each one. The cool Kenyan breeze fluttered a thin curtain over the window. I noticed that shelves against a nearby wall held a number of small wooden boxes. Festus explained that each child owned one and used it to store his or her personal belongings. A small wooden box. A box containing all of the possessions they had in this world. Phew…Lord, give me a heart of contentment. Let me not freak out when the wifi is slow or I’m sitting in traffic or heaven forbid the waitress got my order wrong. Give me joy in the little things and the things that matter. I loved that one of the boxes had the words DON’T TOUCH scribbled in big letters. So natural and childlike.

We were able to see where the dorm mothers lived during the week, the small library housing as many books as it could handle, the washrooms, as well as the outdoor grounds complete with chickens and goats. After the tour was finished, we moved into the Dining Hall where the children performed numerous welcome songs, dances and speeches. I could try to describe for you what a chorus of over one hundred excited Kenyan children sound like chanting, clapping and singing at the top of their lungs, but I suggest you find out for yourself. We also stood before the staff and children as a team and introduced ourselves. There were even a couple male members of our team who attempted their own version of a Kenyan welcome dance (key word: attempted.) It was a good effort, boys.

We loved spending the rest of the afternoon and evening conversing and spending time with the children and staff. After all, you can’t build relationships easily from across the world. We were here…with the people we had all prayed for and sponsored for years. In some ways it felt surreal, but what a blessing. It was incredible to look into their faces and be reminded that they are people, just like us. People with problems, joys, heartaches. I remember having a conversation with one of the female staff members about some of the struggles she and I had both faced in early motherhood. We understood each other. Maybe our upbringings varied, and maybe the countries in which we lived were different, but we connected…as people made in God’s image and loved by Him. It was a strong moment for me.

After a good night’s sleep at the guest houses nearby, our team woke up the next morning excited for the day’s events. Since the Olympics had just concluded a few weeks prior, we had planned a day full of Olympic events for the kids. We all met in the Dining Hall to divide the children up into four different teams. Each team represented a country – Kenya, England, Brazil, and the United States. We had fun with the Opening Ceremonies…we presented each team with a large team flag, a homemade Olympic torch (shout out to Kelly Cornell), played the Olympic theme song, and sang (well, they did) the Kenya National Anthem. We then trekked down a rocky dirt road and through town to a large schoolyard field.

First, warm up time. The children jumped, stretched and laughed in anticipation. Festus and other staff members had organized the competition into over twenty separate running events. Oh man, could these kiddos run! And BAREFOOT, no less. Race after race they sped along the white chalkdust track around the perimeter of the field. When they weren’t racing, we were able to goof off with the kids, ask them questions, take pictures and continue to deepen relationships. After countless gold, silver and bronze medals had been given out, we all relaxed and celebrated with a special treat for the kids…glass bottles of soda, with orange Fanta the clear favorite.

As we wrapped up our Saturday later that evening, the team spent time together conversing about the details of the day. It’s always interesting how the Lord can reveal Himself in different ways to people sharing the same experience. What was clear is that He had handpicked each team member to be in this place at this time. We set out to be a blessing, but what an extraordinary blessing our Kenyan friends had been to US so far. I couldn’t wait to worship our same Lord and Father the next day with our fellow African brothers and sisters.

Africa

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Our guest blogger, Holly Kehlenbeck, has been a part of the 58ten community since the beginning and has played a vital role in 58ten’s partnership with Kitui Baby Home. In this blog she shares about her first visit to Kenya.

 

Holly in Kenya

So many ideas initially come to mind with the mention of this continent, right? Usually it’s the stereotypical descriptions of lions and tigers and bears, hot savannahs, colorful clothing…not to mention hunger, poverty and violence. While many of those characterizations are accurate, I’m here to shed just a little bit of light on a deeper, possibly less known part of Africa. A part involving real people, and their very real stories…many of which I heard for myself just over two months ago in the beautiful country of Kenya.

My African adventure began on August 24th, 2016. Thirteen members of our 58ten team sat at a gate in Philly waiting to board our first flight. In case you were unaware, 58ten is a community of Christians who act on behalf of orphans in Kenya, Africa. Our group included a variety of ages, backgrounds and experiences, but we were all unified in our desire to experience what God intended for us through this trip. I was especially excited to journey alongside my brother, Jeremy, who helped launch the ministry of 58ten and was our team lead (shout-out!) As I sat in the airport sharing surface small talk with many of the team members I had just met for the first time, so many thoughts were racing through my head. Is it ridiculously crazy to leave my husband and babies and travel so far for nearly 2 weeks? Did I really pack everything I’ll need? I know I won’t be able to run to Target on a whim. How will I feel when I look into the faces of these fatherless children? Can my heart handle it?

22 hours, 2 flights, 7 movies and 1 pair of compression stockings later, we arrived in Nairobi with all of our luggage. (Praise Jesus!) As we gathered as a team that night before heading to bed, we felt an obvious sense of unity and excitement. We didn’t know exactly what was coming, but we knew God was in it and we were each exactly where He wanted us.

The next morning we, along with our exceptional drivers Elijah and Sammy, set out bright and early in two vans to make our way toward the Mulango Children’s Home. That bumpy three hour drive provided my first glimpses of Africa laid bare…the unique red soil covering much of the ground, people and more people walking alongside the road, brave (or crazy) motorcyclists veering in and out of traffic. There were busy markets selling a variety of goods and mommas carrying babies slung over their backs. Many of the living quarters we passed were made of cardboard and tarps, sometimes with newspaper for walls or sticks tied together to make a type of roof.

I didn’t know what to expect as we turned onto the long, pitted road leading to the Mulango Children’s Home. And I’m not sure I will ever forget the welcome we received! Festus, the home’s manager, along with several of the older children, met us at the vans with songs, dancing, signs, and gifts. They then walked us into the courtyard of the home, and I think that’s the first time I had the distinct feeling that two worlds were truly coming together. The entire group of 150+ children were singing “Be welcomed, be welcomed, be welcomed on this day!” at the top of their lungs. Most of our team members were about to meet their very own sponsored child for the first time, and you could sense the weight of the moment. One of the guys in our group told us later that though he is not a very emotional person, he struggled to hold back the tears when he saw his “son” in the crowd. The huge brown eyes staring back at us were full of anticipation and joy.

Some of us took off work, we left family members for a couple weeks, we traveled for two days. Yep. This is why we came. I couldn’t wait to learn from and love on these beautiful brown faces over the coming days.

Light in Their Eyes

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Sharon Caughill is in Kenya on her second visit to the Mulango Children’s Home. In this blog she is sharing her thoughts on the children, the home, and the God we serve.

In 2012 “our” van pulled into the driveway of Mulango Children’s Home.  With no way to know what to expect I stepped out of the van into a tangle of children reaching out to touch my hand.  Pressed in on all sides I looked into their eyes one by one.  Hand shake, empty eyes.  Fancy shake, sad eyes. Fist bump, longing eyes.  You get my point.  Their eyes haunted me.  Too much hard had already happened in just a few years.

I had to remind myself to see God.  He had seen their plight and heard the heart cry of an orphan.  Now there was hope.  They had a place to sleep, clothes to wear, food to eat, house-parents to love them.  They could go to school, they had a church just down the road and a pastor who cared because he, too, was an orphan.

Fast forward to April 2016.  Again “our” van rumbles down the dusty road.  It’s the rainy season this time and I cannot help but notice beauty that had been missing in the dry season before.  But more beautiful than blooming flowers is the blossoming hope I see in their eyes.

One by one they greet us.  I take their hands and notice their eyes!  Their heads are held a bit higher, their gaze more direct.  Confidence and hope are growing in their hearts!

“We are winners, we are conquerors”, the orphans sing.  And they are.

I am so grateful they are not taught to be victims but rather victors.  Victors in Christ.

Satan whispers ‘you are alone’.  God says, ‘I see you, each one, and in Christ stand tall.’

I ponder, we are all a child of the King!  The orphan in Africa.  The pastor’s wife from Pennsylvania.  We belong.  Christ is King.  His eyes are on us every one, and because of his freely given grace we can gaze back with hope, joy, gratitude, and praise.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

You Cannot Go Back, Except When You Can

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We are thrilled to have Sharon Caughill sharing her thoughts with us in this post. Sharon and her husband Paul have been 58ten community members since 2011, and they will visiting Kenya later this month. 

You Cannot Go Back, Except When You Can

Nearly four years ago I traveled to Kenya with minimal expectations.  I was extremely excited but had no dreams needing to be fulfilled.  No pictures painted in my mind.  And I think that was a good thing.  I went naively, was forever changed, and have dreamed of going back ever since.  God is awesome.

This week as I prepare to go (slightly elated squeal here) I notice a multitude of emotions weaving through my heart.  So I caution myself to pack lightly again with minimal expectations.  To remember that most of all I want to take along the desire to experience what it is God wants for me.  God has a plan.

I cannot wait to fellowship, again, with the faithful servants of God I met there.   Yet I ponder how none of us are the same.  We have all changed and grown and weathered changes and grown some more.  Life never stands still.  Because God is always moving.

And there is a girl there I cannot wait to see.  When I chose our sweet Kenyan daughter it was through simple pictures hanging on a wall.  I searched and prayed walking back and forth along that wall until I stood before her solemn face and knew that God wanted her to be ours.  But she isn’t ours.  She is God’s.  When I met her she was a girl with a shy sweet smile.  Now she is a teen.  I go expecting her to be different.  Wondering how I will be blessed to impact her this time.  Or will I?  I know she will impact me as will all the others.  It is in God’s hands.  And that is all rightGod is always faithful. 

I sigh as I now know how hard it will be to say good-bye when the all too short days are done.  I hate that I know this and try to put it from my mind.   I could never have prepared myself for that the first time.  It was horrible.  Now I know.  So I try to brace myself, already, that it is only a brief visit.  But that, too, can be entrusted to our faithful God.  God knows all about hard goodbyes and sorrow and remembering to choose joy.

Our team needs your prayers.  We need health and safety and strength and unity and peace.  But most of all we need the power of the Holy Spirit burning through us to sit and stand and walk side by side and shoulder to shoulder with God’s choice servants of Kenya.  To simply serve.  Because that is all he wants.  Whether it is here in the US, or the other side of the world in Africa.  He wants us to shine and pour out for His glory.  And aren’t we blessed that he lets us have a part?  God, you are gracious.

Wrestling with the “Why”

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I’m incredibly blessed to be the father of two amazing children. One is my nine-year-old daughter who is going on fifteen. She is sweet, a little sassy, dramatic, loving, and very passionate. She loves to talk to her mom and me about all kinds of things, to give us hugs, and to spend time with her family. We also have a baby boy who is just about to turn 5 months. He may be the happiest baby on earth, and he is loved by so many people already. As I hold him in the middle of the night to calm his crying, or as I hug my daughter when she is sad, my thoughts go to Kenya. I find myself working through mixed emotions that I’m sure many of you have wrestled with, as well.

Kids whose lives are similar and yet so different. Wrestling with the "why" can be tough.

Kids whose lives are similar and yet so different. Wrestling with the “why” can be tough.

First, I am humbled that God has given me children to love. I’m humbled that they have parents who love them and who can give them consistent, individual attention. Why do we have it so easy?

Second, I think of the children we serve and how many of them come from homes where they have no parents. Some have loving extended family members, but they had to be sent to bed hungry because there was no food and there would be none in the morning, either. Others were not only hungry, but they were abused, emotionally and physically. Why does God allow this?

Third, I think about how amazing it is that these children now have loving staff members who pour themselves out for these kids. I’m thankful that God has stepped into these desperate situations and given these kids hope. I’m thrilled that He uses the 58ten community. Do you know how much of a difference you are making? It is far from inconsequential.

But what does this mean for us on a daily basis being so far removed from the children in Kenya. I’ll encourage you in three areas:
1. Step into the uncomfortable nature of our uncontrollable God. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than ours. God has something to teach us through our connection with our “Kenyan children.”
2. Ask for God’s mercy and power to bring restoration to the children in our homes. They have faced so much, but God can use what Satan means for evil and turn it for good.
3. I’ll repeat my thought from above – what our 58ten community members do is far from inconsequential. Thank you, thank you, thank you for partnering with us in whatever area that may be.

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It is hard to believe the first two months of the year have already flown by. Most of us have enjoyed a winter storm or two and have probably not lived up to our New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, this email will bring a smile to your face because it is about what you have accomplished as a community, as well as what we hope to do in 2016.

Here are a few highlights from 2015:

• You gave enough money to meet our budget, and then exceeded it so we could fund projects. These projects included finishing home repairs, growing the Education Fund, and allocating money for projects that will be finished in 2016.
• God allowed a successful management transition at Kitui Baby Home that has led to a thriving home with an increasingly bright future.
• Our first group of kids advanced from primary to secondary school, including one boy who was accepted to a top-tier high school (think Ivy League).
• A healthy, loving, Gospel centered home was provided to over 200 children.
• Hannah Stanley led a team to update the 58ten website.

Here are a few Goals for 2016:

Host Events

  • We have partnered with Pastor Meshack Kioko to lead a pastor’s conference in Kenya. This has been a goal of ours since we started, and we are thrilled that Pastor Paul Caughill and Dyke Habbegger have agreed to teach at this event.
    58ten Prayer Nights have already happened, and we hope to do them again in the future.
  • We will hold a 58ten event for all to attend this year.
  • We will lead another trip to Kenya.

Reach Full Sponsorship Capacity for the Kitui Baby Home

  • We currently have 72 “Cribs Sponsored” and need a total of 97 “Cribs Sponsored” to cover the annual budget of the Kitui Baby Home.

Improve Collections Process

  • We have started the process of moving all donations to Kindful, an online donation platform. This will allow you to control your donations, and provide us with a better process.

Improve Communications – It is our desire to connect the 58ten community more closely to what is going on in Kenya on a continual basis. We plan to improve this with consistent communications in a few areas. We are also open to other suggestions you may have.

  • Social Media: We will consistently post information on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Newsletter: If you are more of an email person, we will send out a newsletter each month.
  • Blog: We have added a blog to our website. Find it at http://www.58ten.com/blog .
  • Mailing: We will send a Kitui booklet out to all Kitui sponsors.

In upcoming newsletters we also want to give you more insight into the financials of 58ten, the homes in Kenya, and where exactly your money is going. Stay tuned for that information.

We are continually humbled that we get to lead such a great group of people who are pouring themselves out for the poor and needy in Kenya.

58ten Prayer Event Invitation

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“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” – Psalm 116:2

God, who is in control, who is all-powerful, who needs no advice, delights in our prayer. He bends down to listen to our requests, and he actually acts according to his will. He does it in ways beyond our understanding, but he is always acting. He is always moving towards his ultimate purposes.

We believe that one of the most powerful ways the 58ten community can “pour themselves out” for the poor and needy is to pray for them. We are excited to announce 4 prayer nights in Pennsylvania over the next couple of weeks. Each event is identical, but we wanted to give you several options. We want to gather with our 58ten community to pray for Kenya, the children, the staff, and our community in the United States. Each event starts at 7pm and will last one hour. Would you consider joining us?

The Events:
February 19th Miller/Fretz Home – 3071 Main Street, Apt D, Morgantown, PA 19543
February 23rd Windsor Home – 3 Ravine Dr, Shillington, PA 19607
February 25th O’Shaughnessey Home – 503 Windsor Way, Chester Springs 19425
March 1st Spacek Home – 108 Clarkdale Lane, Gilbertsville, PA 19525

Stories of Rescue and Updates

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The New Year is here, and anyone paying attention to the stock market and world events knows 2016 already has been wild. Destruction, unrest and uncertainty rule the day. But this is nothing new. Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Why is this encouraging? We have a God who knows and understands all things. He has a plan. Our job is not to worry; our job is to trust. We trust Him, and He provides for all of our needs. Matthew 6:26 says: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Every day, we are seeing God provide and graciously care for the newly rescued children at Kitui Baby Home.

David Muuo was rescued and brought to Kitui Baby Home after he was found abandoned. We still don’t have any details about his immediate family.

David Muuo was rescued and brought to Kitui Baby Home after he was found abandoned. We still don’t have any details about his immediate family.

Dorcus is a beautiful girl who was abandoned by her mother at a Kitui government building. Rescued by the Kitui Police Inspector, she was brought to Kitui Baby Home for care and protection.

Dorcus is a beautiful girl who was abandoned by her mother at a Kitui government building. Rescued by the Kitui Police Inspector, she was brought to Kitui Baby Home for care and protection.

 

What else is new at the home?

Winnie, the manager, has started working with a company to improve the children’s playground. We are also planning to add a generator at the home, as electricity tends to be intermittent.

In 2016, we are hoping to complete more projects to provide a safe and comfortable facility for these children. We will pass along stories of rescue and updates as the months go on. For now, thank you so much for your prayer and financial support. We could not do this without you.

God bless you, my friends!

John Mark