In March 2012 my wife and I travelled to Kenya for a ministry trip. We spent most of our time in a village called Mtwapa just north of Mombasa. The trip was part of a ministry school we have been part of in California. We had an incredible, life changing time and saw many receive salvation and get supernaturally healed. This post is part of a series telling stories from our trip. In a previous post I detailed a time we went out into the village to share the good news of Jesus with the locals. We saw some great things but it was not without its challenges. Getting people free is not always as easy in practice as it may seem like on paper.
As we walked through the village with our interpreter we met many locals. We started talking to one lady who was weaving a basket. Her young girl was lying next to her hiding her face. We asked if there was anything they needed prayer for. She asked that we pray for her other daughter as she was doing exams at school. One of our team prayed for that and then asked her if she personally knew Jesus. She explained that she couldn’t accept Jesus as she made a living from selling palm wine. This is the locally made alcohol and it is very much associated with the down and outs in the area. The lady feared that in order to receive Jesus she would have to give up her business; her only source of income. It was really sad to see her seemingly trapped. My personal conviction was that she did not need to change in order to come to Jesus and yet this did not seem to be the view of local churches. Immediately there was a clash of cultures. I was keen not to dishonour the local churches and was fully aware that some local churches may not open their arms to this lady. I felt in that moment that she would have received Jesus had her hands not been tied. I remember being really frustrated that there was a man made ruling and religious standard stopping her coming as she was, to receive her eternal destiny and meet her heavenly father. A perfect father who cares more about provision for her family than anyone. Some of the team suggested ways she could change her source of income as they felt led but we were forced to simply bless her business and move on.
We spent a lot of time during our trip ministering to prostitutes and women with HIV. As you can imagine there is a lot of stigma attached to this people group. As we listened to their stories we learnt that many of these women feel like they have been left with no options but to sell themselves for money. Often men will bring HIV/Aids into the home and then leave the woman once they discover their positive status. Often this leaves the women with no income, or means of income and many hungry mouths to feed. Until these women discover other means of income/employment they are trapped in a lifestyle that drags them down. Many of these women are believers and yet remain freedom eludes them.
If you are involved in missions at any level you very quickly discover that people are trapped all over the world. Trapped by poverty, religious standards and stigmas. This is not God’s heart for anyone. My heart is that we would be people who bring freedom wherever we go. As believers we have been given the keys to bring hope. Let’s tear down the man made obstructions that prevent people from connecting with God. Freedom is a big deal. We only need to look at Jesus’s earthly mission statement to see Gods heart for the trapped.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free”
Luke 4:18 emphasis added