JIPC: Where have you been focusing your work and what are some of the needs you are focusing on in that area?
JAMES: Taryn and I had been financially supporting a Campus Outreach director in Raleigh, NC for a few years. A couple of years ago, he invited me and a friend to join him and 5 college students on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya. The purpose of the trip was to make advance arrangements for those five students to spend 2 years in Nairobi ministering to African students at the University of Nairobi. Their goal is to spread the gospel, disciple students, and teach the Bible, but to do that through meaningful relationships forged with those students over time. Since that trip, Taryn and I have been financially supporting one of those same missionaries during his time in Kenya.
While there, we spent time working with Uhuru Child, a charity that creates sustainable businesses in impoverished communities. In Limuru, about 25 miles outside of Nairobi, Uhuru Child helped to build housing, install a well, and establish a lettuce farm that provided local jobs. The staff works closely with Africans in that community, teaching them agricultural and business fundamentals, personal finance, and parenting skills. Most importantly, they share the gospel and teach discipleship once a relationship has been formed through their love and care for others, spending time and laboring together toward a common goal.
Uhuru Child uses a portion of the proceeds from the farming operation to fund scholarships for a girls' school nearby, one that it created, which further involves the community in the joy of helping others. The charity isn't based on helping others through giving money, food, or clothing; instead, they give of themselves, their time, talents, and love.
JIPC: After your initial introduction to this ministry was has kept you involved?
JAMES: Our involvement is passive, but we remain committed to these missions because we've seen firsthand the value of this approach and the material changes in the lives of others. I met Africans whose lives have been irreversibly changed in so many ways, not only (but most importantly) spiritually.
JIPC: What have been some of the biggest challenges you've come across?
JAMES: There are no real challenges on our end with respect to the mission work of others in Kenya. The constant challenge for me personally is to take up my cross daily, love others more than myself (no matter who you're talking about), and to simply, but truly, follow Jesus. Being inspired by the commitment of others helps in that process, but the "haze" of our American lifestyles is sometimes hard to see through.
JIPC: How have you been blessed through this process?
JAMES: I'm inspired every time I read an update or watch a video from the mission team in Nairobi. I'm also reminded that not everyone can or should leave civilian life and pursue mission work in a foreign country. But we can be involved in that type of work, we can support it, and we can share in the joy of it, and it can change our hearts toward feeling for similar needs in our own communities. We change through trying to make positive change in the lives of others.