"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kibera Fire and the Women of St. Martha's Ministry

This has been a challenging two weeks for our partners at St. Martha’s Ministry. Oasis for Orphans is partnering with St. Martha’s to build our newest home, The Shelter.  They also have a ministry to HIV widows in the Kibera slums in Nairobi.  They teach them skills in jewelry making, sewing, and in business management.

Around 1am on Monday, November 3, a fire broke out in the Hocus Market area of the Kibera slums.  The fire consumed hundreds of businesses.  That so many buildings were affected is not surprising, as the businesses are crammed together in close quarters and are primarily made of wood.  The St. Martha’s Ministry building was among the affected shops.  It burned completely to the ground. It was a total loss. 

22 Burned Sewing Machines

This week, I had the opportunity to join the ladies of St. Martha’s in their weekly Bible study, the first they’ve had since the fire.  They met to talk about their experiences with the fire and share what God has been speaking to them over the last week.  I was humbled to be in their midst and want to share a few of their words to encourage you.

“I was so down about the fire.  I heard about it in the middle of the night when Margaret came to my door.  We couldn’t go to the area until the early morning, but when I saw it, I became so down.  I lost everything to do with my business in the fire.  I lost my machine (sewing) and all of my inventory. I lost all of my items I had been making in preparation for Christmas.  I lost everything.  I even lost my spiritual heart. 

When I first came to St. Martha’s, I was so down like this.  I had lost my husband and I felt like I just wanted to die.  After this fire, I felt like that and even more so because I felt like I had been fooled by God.   

I walked away from the burning and cried for two hours straight.  Then I went home to my children and they were asking me so many questions.  I didn’t have any answers for them so I took my Bible and left for some time. 

I began reading in Psalm 107 and I felt as if God were speaking to me over and over again about how He provides in every circumstance and that nothing is impossible for Him.  So I’m choosing to put my hope in the Lord.”

“I was at the hospital when I heard about the fire.  As soon as I left, I went to the market and saw the destruction. For some time, I couldn’t even speak. 

When I went home, my children were asking me so many questions.  I told them our ministry is burned, and we have nothing.

I had no strength in me, but I took my Bible and I read of Job and his trials and how he felt in suffering.  He was faithful to God through his struggles, and in the end, God lifted him up.  I am choosing to be faithful.”

“All of the week before the fire, I kept feeling fear, like something was going to happen.  This fire was it.  I have felt very bad since the fire.  We are ok walking around during the day, but we cry a lot at night. 

Though we have nothing, we are alive and walking, so we are thankful.  God will be God, and He is the one who is wiping our tears.”

“When I heard of the fire, it was in the middle of the night.  I did not sleep the rest of the night but was up worrying and praying.  When we finally reached Hocus Market in the morning, I couldn’t even cry.  I was in shock.  We began searching for anything that remained in the ashes and found nothing.  We found the big box where we keep our supplies and we opened the lid.  Fire came out of the box as soon as it was opened.  That is when everything hit me. I broke down in tears and cried and cried and cried. 

Later, when I returned home, I picked up my Bible and God reminded me of 1 John 4:7-11.  This passage talks about God’s love.  I asked myself, “What is God’s greatest gift to me? His love.  Everything that we have lost is not as important as God’s love. We will never lose His love.”

These are just a few of the many stories shared. And yep, I cried through every one.  These women literally live on what they earn day to day.  When they told their children they had nothing, it was not an exaggeration. Each of them talked of sadness, crying, despair, and pain, and then every one of them said they reached for their Bibles.  I love this about these precious ladies!  I love their deep faith, determination, and hope.  I LOVE that God spoke to each of them differently and yet the same.  It was an awesome picture for me of God being with us and sustaining us through suffering.

They ended their time singing this chorus over and over and over:

He has done so much for us that we cannot tell it.

We feel the same…

St. Martha's property in preparation for rebuilding...

Thank you to so many of you who chipped in to help the St. Martha’s widows in their time of crisis.  Their physical needs have been provided for through December and there is enough money to re-build their workshop!  If you’d still like to contribute, we’re still collecting money for the replacement of sewing machines and inventory.  Please send any donations to Inspire 180.  Inspire 180 works directly with the HIV Widows of St. Martha’s Ministry.  

Go to:

https://inspire180.cloverdonations.com/donate/.  Choose St. Martha’s Ministry in the drop down tab.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Ann, thanks for sharing. How terrible for the women of St. Martha's, but how wonderful that slowly by slowly, the ministry is being rebuilt. I've just sent a donation to the website you've listed. Blessings and Merry Christmas to all of you! In Christ, Kate Dahlman