Since I’ve been traveling to Africa as far back as 1983, I’ve met thousands of Africans, maybe tens of thousands. When opportunity afforded me to stay for an extended period of time, relationships were naturally developed. Through the years I’ve kept up with several of those relationships. I’ve seen God raise up amazing young men, I’ve seen older men finish well the race set before them. I always ask the Lord to lead me to the people He wants me to develop a relationship with when I set out on these trips for Catalyst for Africa.
I have to confess, I wasn’t expecting this one. I mostly work with “leaders” who are already established in a business or a ministry. When we began our journey from Nairobi, Anita Colley, the executive director for Project 82, introduced to us a young man that their ministry has been supporting for several years. His name is Bernard. He had one of those ball caps with a flat brim and stickers still on it. He was lean and very dark. As we journeyed from the capital to Nakuru, he began to ask me what I do and why. I told him about the purpose of Catalyst for Africa, that we want to walk and work alongside African leaders in order to change the world, and he held my hand and said, “I love that.” The other teammates were also naturally drawn in by him. We all shared our stories with him and he in turn shared his story.
Here is a snapshot of what he told us. “At four years I had an argument with my parents and ran away. They never found me or never looked and so I lived as a street boy from age of 4 years to 15. Then a Kenyan man reached out to me and began to tell me that God wants to do great things with my life. Stop sniffing glue, stop stealing. Let me help you.” Bernard surrendered his life to Christ and his life began to change. He finished his education in high school and had some of the highest marks of a graduate. Project 82 came and began to support him, gave him a job, and is now helping him finish his degree to become an electrician.
One night, a portion of our team were sharing funny stories, and I shared about getting food poisoning one night and how I told my wife that I wanted to die. For 24 hours, sickness hemorrhaged out of my body. Bernard was sitting quietly and then he spoke up. He said, “That happened to me so many times.” Mine was from drinking some fresh squeezed orange juice sold on the street, his from eating rotten food from the garbage, time and time again. So later that night when we were having our devotions, we asked, “What has been the most significant thing that has happened on this trip?” I said, “Bernard,” and then the tears began to flow and I couldn’t contain it. The suffering he endured for years as a small boy, and yet Christ rescued him because a young Kenyan man reached out to him. What a man, what a story, what a saint!
When we parted ways I told Bernard I am all in. Catalyst for Africa is standing with you brother and we will do whatever we can to support you in your calling to follow HIM.
We are changing the world, in Jesus’ name, one relationship at a time.