This past January, I (Michael) had the bitter-sweet joy of celebrating my 40th birthday and found myself at a unique place in life. It seems that middle-age crept up on me as I both looked back in reflection as well as forward in anticipation. About the same time I found myself both looking back with thankfulness at 2009 as well as ahead with excitement to 2010 and our partnership with you in Kenya. We are excited and thankful as we look ahead to this year with some unique projects that clearly have the fingerprints of God on them.
Another school year has begun in Kenya. It is because you have sacrificed that handicapped children are attending school in a country where most are seen as second class citizens and family members. This year, we were able to sponsor all the children we have previously sponsored as well as increase those numbers because of your partnership. For 2010, we have 79 deaf children sponsored and 42 physically/mentally challenged children sponsored in 2 separate schools in a town called Webuye, Kenya. This is in addition to the 2 homes that we are helping support on a monthly basis. This is more than we have ever sponsored in previous years thanks to you!
We are also anticipating a unique building project for 2010 that will provide proper housing for the children of the Shikuku home. ReACT has for many years believed in the vision of Martin and Ruth Shikuku and have come behind them in two ways. The first is to help sponsor some of the extra 40 children they have taken into their home and second to provide a means for them to run a family business. In January 2009, Manon and I along with our daughter Elia traveled back to Kenya to see this work and we were struck by the poor housing and living conditions they had. Despite the fact that we have never had a vision to undertake the work of building and raising funds for building projects, God has proven faithful in bringing alongside Martin and Ruth a wonderful family from New York that we had never met (up until last summer) to undertake all of this. Having grown up in a missionary family, Bill and Ron Pollock as well as their siblings are quite familiar with Kenya and have previously undertaken 15 similar building projects. They have taken the initiative to raise the funds and even arrange the teams to travel to Kenya to build a new home for Martin and Ruth! In the last two months, the land has been purchased and most of the funds for the building have been donated. For all of July and August of this year, teams of 15-20 will be traveling to Kenya from the United States to participate in this building project. Manon and I are in awe of a God that does so much more than we ever dreamed of as we link arms with so many other talented and gifted people and ministries!
We have always recognized that one of our weaknesses has been keeping people like you informed and in touch with the children you are sponsoring. Reporting on over 100 children with friends that volunteer their time, talent and treasure has been an increasingly large task. We are pleased to report that our good friend Daniel at Transformed International is working on changing that for us! This may take some time and we hesitate to make any promises, but we hope to be able to provide a face, a name and a report on the specifics on each child so that you can make a personal connection with them. Daniel has a fill-time Kenyan social worker named Anne that has done an assessment of each child and visits each one on a regular basis. From her work we hope to be able to pass more information onto you so that you can pray and see the fruit of your investment. We thank you for your patience in this as we ourselves learn better how to bridge these two worlds of ours.
We are pleased to say that 100% of your funds go directly to the sponsorship of these children with nothing used for any overhead. We have several people along the way that volunteer their time, talent and treasure to ensure that these kids are properly cared for. We are always thankful for the team at Transformed International who monitor monthly if not weekly the various projects that ReACT has undertaken. Without Daniel, Anne, Meredith and Sean, none of what we do would be possible. As well, our Kenyan friends like Martin and Ruth Shikuku play a vital role in locating and caring for the handicapped children at a grassroots level. Jim at the Assists Projects here in Canada works hard to produce the charitable slips that we all look for around this time of year. (We hope you have received your by now!) We have found that partnering with other gifted and talented people like these as well as friends like you is far more effective than we could ever be on our own. Each one is the “Together” in ReACT.
Thank you to each of you for being “extraordinary at ordinary things”! The children of Kenya say “Asante!”
Michael and Manon Christensen