Better Plans

Posted Jun 18, 2011 by 5 Comments

I had planned to come to Kenya without expectations. Or at least I tried to. Somewhere along the way I found out not being in control was harder than I thought. I’ve only been here a few weeks out of two months, but already I’ve discovered that my thoughts and expectations are way too small and God’s work is so much bigger!

When our team arrived in Nairobi, we began touring the different ministries we would be working with. Each organization fit its assigned intern perfectly and everyone was incredibly excited about the work they’d be doing.

For founder Jane Wathome, empowering women with HIV/AIDS is the fulfillment of God’s calling.

But I was nervous. My organization, Beacon of Hope, was the last one we would go to and I’d be dropped off at the end of the visit. I knew I was placed at Beacon for a reason, but I didn’t know where I would fit.

After all, I was the youngest intern, the perpetual student from the Midwest who was too curious for her own good. What if everything didn’t go like I thought it would?

As we drove there for the first time (my suitcase in the trunk), I had to remind myself I was not in control.

Entirely Different

Beacon was nothing like I imagined. I’d already seen pictures and read descriptions about the organization.  But as we drove through the front gate, I realized it was entirely different being there in person. It wasn’t just that the facility was beautiful or that the people were welcoming. Instead, it was the tremendous feeling of peace I had the moment we arrived.

The feeling of God’s work already in progress.

We met the organization’s founder, Jane Wathome, in an upstairs conference room over a cup of chai. Now, before going to Beacon of Hope, I’d heard a variety of words thrown out to describe Jane: “rock star,” “incredible,” and “legit,” to name a few. As I sat a few seats down from her, I felt a mixture of admiration and inadequacy.

What could I do to help someone like her? Gulping chai in an effort to build up courage and then plowing forward before I lost my nerve, I asked her to tell us how she started Beacon of Hope.

Incredible Needs

The story she told was one of honesty and humility. Instead of starting with the organization’s success, she talked about how it began as a ministry with one toilet, a place crammed with people and overwhelmed by incredible needs.

Women in need from all walks of life have a home at Beacon of Hope.

In 2002, Beacon of Hope was the beginning of Jane’s dream to help women infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. She chose to base Beacon of Hope out of Ongata Rongai, a growing town outside of Nairobi.

Together with her team, Jane found that in the area, those who had HIV/AIDS received little to no support from their community. Instead, people were often ignored and stigmatized; those in Ongata Rongai thought of HIV/AIDS as a death sentence and the infected women as useless members of society.

With Beacon of Hope, Jane set out to change their minds.

As the six members of our team sat transfixed, Jane told us about the mistakes and the lessons she and her staff learned during Beacon’s journey. No matter the complications or discouragements, they didn’t give up.

Today, 18 percent of Ongata Rongai’s population is infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. The town is one of the fastest growing in Kenya, which just means needs are always increasing. Additionally, stigmas still exist despite new treatments and success stories.

But Beacon of Hope is providing solutions.

Called to do more

As they gain support and skills, women from Beacon of Hope can support their loved ones and make a better life for their families.

The organization offers not only a clinic where treatment and medication for HIV/AIDS is free, but also a vocational training program for women who struggle to support their families. When they finish their training, women can join an entrepreneurship program that will teach them the basics of business, offer a micro-credit system, and provide community support through other businesswomen.

For a while, Jane and her team were content to provide medical care and empower the women who were treated. But God called them to do more.

Because of God’s direction, Beacon of Hope has grown incredibly. It now includes programs for children and youth, including a kindergarten and 8 area youth resource centers offering small groups, clubs, and computer training. Two showrooms sell products made by graduates of the vocational training center and take orders from all over the world.

God’s plan was bigger than Jane ever thought it would be.

Because of the obedience and hard work of the staff at Beacon of Hope, countless women and their families have better lives, regardless of how HIV/AIDS has affected them. Just like Jane hoped, the community, and not just individuals, are receiving help and experiencing change.

Ready

Jane finished her story and the rest of the group began peppering her with other questions, ignoring their now cold chai. I kept writing notes, overwhelmed by what I’d heard, but silent.

How could I have thought I knew what to expect for the summer?

Here was a ministry that was bringing God’s kingdom on earth, fulfilling needs and creating change in a community that desperately needs it. Later, when I talked to Jane alone, I was more convinced it was an honor to get to spend my time with true servants of His kingdom. If God can do with me half of what he’s done with Jane and her team, then I’m getting ready for incredible things.

While Ongata Rongai is still in need, God is doing something beautiful here!

Additionally, I’m now convinced a huge part of what’s going to happen has to do with you and the work we can do together to make each of our own communities a better place. I can’t wait to get started!

As I watched the rest of my team drive away from Beacon of Hope’s gate at the end of their visit, I didn’t feel fear or the need to be in control. Instead, I was confident that God’s plan for me this summer was just as unbelievable as the one He had for Jane and Beacon of Hope.

After all, how else does someone like me end up living in Kenya for two months?

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About the Author: Molly Meyer was a summer intern with World Next Door in 2011. She currently attends Indiana Wesleyan University where she’s studying Journalism and International Relations. She loves discovering how God can work his grace through every story, no matter the circumstances.

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Comments

  1. Catherine Bell said... 

    Reply

    June 18th, 2011 at 10:22 am  

    So beautiful, Molly. Another step into knowing and trusting the God you belong to! Praising and praying, Catherine Bell

  2. LeAnne Hardy said... 

    Reply

    June 18th, 2011 at 4:04 pm  

    May this be a wonderful summer of growth for you and for Beacon of Hope. God can do incredible things.

  3. Jim.M said... 

    Reply

    June 18th, 2011 at 4:53 pm  

    Molly, can’t wait to hear more. You seem to be right where you should be….why should we be surprised.

  4. karithi joseph said... 

    Reply

    September 15th, 2011 at 8:25 pm  

    It’s in Rongai where i’ve seen humanity bieng upheld to fullest.May God bless that staff to higher levels and may he give Jane Wathome long life and wisdom like king solomon.

  5. Tiffany said... 

    Reply

    October 17th, 2013 at 1:04 pm  

    Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out.

    Please let me know where you got your design. Many thanks

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