Seeing Beauty Despite the Bad
A REFLECTION ON THE LESSONS LEARNED DURING A CONNECTION TEAM TRIP TO KENYA.
By Keenan Morgan
While walking through the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, we would navigate these never-ending narrow walkways. Sounds of music, motorcycles, children playing, food cooking, and many others could be heard all around. The mod podge of wood and sheet metal surrounds you, almost making you feel claustrophobic. Ducking your head to avoid live wires and watching your step to avoid slipping on the mud and into the ditch is a daunting task.
One at a time we were waiting to enter the small home of an incredible woman who is trying to do everything to support her children. Waiting near the back I tried to use my senses to take it all in when I heard a small voice behind me say, “Hello.” I turned around only to be confronted with more wood and sheet metal. Until I realized there was a crack looking through to the next walkway.
Through the crack, I saw a beautiful little Kenyan girl standing in a doorway waving at me. I smiled and waved back before it was my turn to walk into the home.
Whenever God gives me the chance to travel internationally, I always wonder what He is going to teach me. This lesson might have been one of the greatest I have ever learned. In places of extreme poverty, we sometimes only see what is wrong. This causes us to go into “fix-it” mode trying to figure out what we can do to fix the situation. We have good intentions, but oftentimes we leave feeling like we haven’t even made a dent in the problem. But I don’t believe that God is always calling us to FIX what is wrong. I think God wants to use these experiences, like a Connection Team Trip with Hope’s Promise, to make a difference in our own lives so that we can return home with a passion and fervor to continue working to impact the lives of others. Could it be that our mission field is wherever we are in the moment? What may feel like a drop in the bucket can turn into a bucket overflowing over the course of a lifetime.
God always teaches me a valuable lesson when I am willing to listen to that still small voice saying, “Hello.” The lesson this time is this; when all we can see is the trash, the hurt, the brokenness, and the ugly dirty mess, God sees the beautiful potential. He sees the seed being planted in the empty desolate field that will one day be a beautiful forest flourishing with life. He sees the bad and despite it, redeems and restores it. We can see this beauty too and be vessels of the work if we are willing to peel back the layers of bad and look through the cracks. If we can put aside our motives, ideas, and wants, then we can look at the world through God’s eyes to see His plan and purpose at work. We can begin to see the beauty that exists despite the bad.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7b NIV