“Do I really know what the desert is like?”
As many know, I recently got back from a trip to Kenya where I spent time in the slums of the Mathare Valley. It’s hard to put into words the range of emotions experienced during this our trip. The valley has some of the most challenging living conditions of anything I’ve ever seen. To get a small glimpse of the area and our trip, I would recommend spending some time viewing our blog at servingtheworld.org.
Today, I wanted to capture a thought which took place while flying to Kenya and continued to reoccur throughout the trip. As we flew over the desert, I was struck in awe thinking, “do I really know what the desert is like?” You see, I never have been to the desert. The picture I took from the plane doesn’t even give it justice. There is nothing but dry sand for miles. I began to reflect on bible stories of people like Moses going and living in the desert for 40 years. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.
As I reflected, I got to thinking about desert experiences in life. We all have had them along the way. I personally have written about a few in my life. However, the overwhelming thought I had as I stared out the window of my plane was once again, “do I really know what the desert is like?”
Taking this thought into the week, as I walked thought the Mathare Valley, I continually thinking to myself, “do I really know what the desert is like?” It was kinda like God was pressing in on me like he did Job. In essence, the suffering I’ve gone through has no comparison to the suffering being experienced by the people of the Mathare Valley.
Yet, it wasn’t the suffering that tended to stick out to me. It was more their complete love and dependence upon God for their provision. As I prayed over the course of three days for hundreds of people individually, I don’t recall one who didn’t ask that I pray for provision for their family. This provision wasn’t such that they could live in a comfortable home, have a car, take an occasional vacation, or the likes I’ve grown accustom. The provision I was praying for was such that they would have food over the next few days or that their children would have provision for schooling.
Then, I got sick for a few days while on the trip. God used this as well to speak to me about suffering. Once again, as I was holding hands and praying for each of these people, I was praying for healing as they all were sick. It began to hit me that the temporary pain and suffering I was having for the matter of a few days is just a part of their daily lives. Again, “do I really know what it’s like to live in the desert?”
Early in the week, I journaled “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV). This verse continued to repeat in my mind throughout the week. In correlation to today’s blog, what God is teaching me is what true trust and dependence on Him looks like. Through the experiences I’ve had in my personal deserts, our relationship has grown deeply. However, what I heard this week is that we’ve only scratched the surface. “More of you, less of me” has been my prayer for months and that is clearly what He desire much, much more.
While some may look at the people of the Mathare Valley as “poor”, I would challenge you on that thinking. Looking through God’s eyes, they may be much more rich than I when it comes to their personal relationship with Christ which is the only true measure of riches.
Thank you people of the Mathare Valley for the time spent together!