My name is Jon Fox and this is my story of how God worked on my heart for my trip to Kenya (7/16/09 – 7/25/09).
I didn’t really have any feeling toward missions or the people of Kenya leading up to the trip. At that time I never wanted to go, I liked things the way they were in my life. But one Sunday after church, God spoke to me through my mom. She was talking about going and the fact that there were no men going on the trip now, because they had to cancel. At that moment God was telling me, “you’re a guy, you can go, you’re not in college right now, you have time, you can come up with the money.”
At that moment I knew that God wanted me to go. He had a specific purpose. I discussed it with my small group and they all agreed with me. I was hoping that maybe they would talk me out of it, but all they did was confirm what God had told me. Enough was enough; I talked to the team leader, Sue, and let her know what God had revealed to me and told her I wanted to go.
Now, we had no extra money. I, my brother, and my dad have a company doing painting and remodeling and due to the economy, business had been slow. The time leading up to my decision and leading up to the trip, our family did not have any extra money to put towards the trip, so we knew that God was going to have to provide and boy did He.
We sent out letters and did a fundraiser and spread the word around about the trip. Money just started coming in to our account. One gentleman, who attended our church but that we have never met, singly donated $3500 to me, my mom, and my sister for us to split. Before we knew it, we were getting close to our goal. God just seemed to bring the money from nowhere.
When we were approaching the money deadline for the trip, Sue informed us that our family was collectively short only $428. God had miraculously provided over $10,000! We now were scrambling trying to figure out how to raise the remainder in 4 days. We tried selling coupon books, but we weren’t successful. The Sunday before we left, the team was invited on stage during church, so they could pray for us. After church, we saw our friend, a single young woman, who went on the trip last year. Nothing about money was mentioned in church, but she said that she had money in her wallet that she felt led to give to us towards the trip. Her money totaled enough to cover the $428 we needed.
All during this time, God was changing my heart towards the people of Kenya from no real feeling towards them; to an excitement because I knew God wanted me to go. Departing on the trip I started to get sick on the plane ride there. The first few days I got headaches and stomach aches and could not sleep very well. On the second day in the community, I had pain and a mild fever which ended up as an infection. I felt like God was punishing me, but God reminded me of some verses I went over before the trip.
Matthew 7:14 The way to life – to God – is vigorous and requires total attention.
Matthew 10:38-39 If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus went to work on His disciples, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
God brought these verses and brought a message from the pastor at the church I attended on Sunday in Karima. The pastor talked about perseverance through tough times and God was teaching me the same thing through His word. He was telling me that being a Christian is going to be tough and at times things are going to be hard, but we just have to push through and let God use us and that is what I did.
I went to village everyday (except for the day I had to go to the Nairobi Hospital to find out the diagnosis of the infection) and did what I could to serve the people. One of the days, the village got together after doing road construction and prayed for me. I had only known them a couple of days, but they loved me that much that they all prayed for me. That touched me.
Two Kenyan men staying at our hotel, who saw me each day while we were all eating together, asked what my health issue was, because they saw I was limping. After explaining my situation, he told me that he was a pastor and that he would be praying for me to recover. Wow, what love I felt. The people in Karima just loved me in spite of what color my skin was or how much work I got done, they just felt touched that I chose to take time away from my life and family to spend it with them.
I thought coming home would be an easy task but, it has come to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Coming home, I couldn’t help but thank God for the very simple things like hot water, a mattress, a blanket to cover up with, a nice home to shield me from the elements, a pantry full of food to eat, cars to drive, my own room to have. All these things reminded me of how blessed I really am in comparison to the people of Karima.
The irony is that they have so little but love and thank God for every little thing that He provides them. We get caught up and consumed with all the stuff this culture entangles us in.
When I was there I was thinking of all the things I wanted to let them experience from our culture but, I quickly realized that we need to learn and take things from their culture and bring that to our culture; like unconditional love and a satisfaction with what God has blessed us with. I have been fighting a real battle inside since coming home because God is changing my heart and the way I view everything I’ve ever known. I am realizing God is so much bigger than me and my circumstances.
Going from not wanting to go on this trip and not having a heart for these people to having a genuine love for the people of Kenya and a thirst to help out has been nothing short of a God thing. This trip has truly changed my life from the inside out and I am happy God had me go. I look forward to our next trip and will definitely go.