Our church recently participated in a pilgrimage to Naivasha, Kenya to see our students from Inua Partners In Hope. Below is a testimonial by Camila Barahona, a young adult from Cornerstone UMC in Naples, FL. Cornerstone is a partner church that we brought into Inua to expand this transformative program. Please spend time in prayer for this ministry and our church community both near & far!
“I went on this pilgrimage with no expectations of the people and students but only doubts in myself because I had no idea what I would be able to offer. I’m not rich, I’m not the most knowledgeable about scripture, and I don’t attend church every Sunday. I instantly made this trip about myself and my fears without realizing it.
I got the breath knocked out of me when I realized how wrong I was in that mentality because the students only cared that their brothers and sisters in Christ were there to show them love and support. That’s when I felt God working through all of us – tearing down our walls and lighting my spark of faith back into a roaring fire that not even my doubts could put out. I must admit I knew I wouldn’t be very shocked going to a country like Kenya (because she has traveled extensively). However, I didn’t know I would experience the most beautiful, kind-hearted, faith-driven people I have ever met. I didn’t know I would be reminded how lost our country is in faith and humanity.
The students showed me that we had lost our community, we are so self-absorbed in materials and wanting to be the most popular or rich. They showed me the true importance of building a real community with God in the center.
My experience with the students opened my eyes to realizing that being present, and showing your love and compassion is sometimes all we need to stay motivated. It gave the students hope that what they were doing was worthwhile. It reminded me that having a community, building relationships, and connecting is more valuable than worrying about when my next raise is or if my iPhone is up to date.
I hope I encouraged them and showed them that we do care, and we don’t see them as a project to fix because they don’t need to be fixed. They just need this opportunity to show their potential. These kids gave me so much in return. They wiped away my little seed of doubt in God when the first thing they did was celebrate him in every step of every day. They humbled me when they told their stories of tragedy that ended in hope, love, and community. They taught me that fear of embarrassment is only in my head because I allow it, and that letting it go and not being scared to praise God and spread his love and word is what I need.”
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Heavenly Father, we ask for your presence in our family. We pray for strength and understanding between our brothers and sisters. We ask for loving, strong bonds between the children, teenagers, adults, and seniors of our community. We pray that each branch of the family would demonstrate love for one another.
We ask for healthy, thriving relationships between neighbors. We pray different cultures will be able to understand and care for one another. We pray that the diversity of your people will be celebrated by all neighbors – just as you affirm and love each of us. Let us hear from you. Let us learn from you. Higher higher higher. Higher Jesus higher! Amen.