African Women's Refugee Mission
Across Pacific Magazine

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African refugee women's mission
kept in peace as roving gangs seek revenge

By Michael Ireland

NAIROBI, KENYA (ANS) -- The women of Amani ya Juu have escaped staggering struggles, innocent victims of war and violence in their home countries as they escaped to Nairobi -- a safer place. These marginalized women and children have scratched out an existence on the streets of the slums, enduring unbearable emotional and physical pain.

"In His time, they found Amani ya Juu, which means Peace from Above, a nurturing haven where they learned to sew beautiful products to support their families. They sew side-by-side, pray and support each other -- even those from warring tribes," writes Lynda Young of Kindred Spirits International.

"That safer place (Nairobi) violently erupted this month. These women, many living in the slums, feared for their lives, and watched as roving gangs burned and ravaged the city. Finally, they could meet together in the Amani compound for prayer and sewing."

One missionary working with these women in Nairobi sent this email: "Violence still erupts daily. However, In the midst of all the fear and violence we know that God is still God and that we can count on Him. Each morning before we start our day at Amani we pray, and this morning the women begin with thanksgiving to God for answered prayers. Throughout all that is happening they still find many things to thank God for. Psalm 57:7 says; 'My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.' The heart of these women is steadfast, even during this frightening time."

The women then prayed for needs -- safety, basic necessities of life and for God to help Kenyans love each other and live peacefully among each other -- seeing each other as Kenyans all created by one God, not as different tribes.

The missionary says the divisions in Kenya are deep. "But someone said 'We are praying for a miracle.' A miracle is something only God can do. Yes, that is what Kenya needs -- something only God can do. We ask you to pray with us for that."

Young writes that Human Rights Groups and officials charge the violence in Kenya has become organized, and people say it is hidden hands organizing it now.

"We know who the 'hidden hands' are. It is a spiritual battle -- not from humans -- but carried out by human hands. The battle is the Lord's and we are His prayer warriors."

Another missionary in Nairobi said that as likely happened all around Kenya Sunday, the morning congregation at the church where they worship was larger than the norm.

"Even with the added voices, the mood was unusually sombre as we began singing. Yet you could feel the sincerity as we sang in a mixture of English and Swahili, 'Where does my help come from? ...Yesu!' Even those of you who know only a few Swahili words from Disney's 'Lion King' recognize the answer -- Jesus!' The worship team then led us in singing, 'O LORD, be lifted up high.Your name is above all other names, be lifted up high.' "

The missionary says that: "A transformation began, the voices became stronger and we truly entered a time of worship and praise! As I looked around, I realized that most likely each person singing was either one of those who had been threatened, hurt or among the displaced during the last few weeks or like me, had close friends or family, not just acquaintances, among those in the first category. Yet, the joy I sensed was incredible."

She continued: "Once again we heard of how members of the church had responded this week to the relief efforts. One special delivery was announced for this afternoon -- the arrival of Gideon Bibles which church members would be helping to deliver to the many places where the displaced are located.

"One deacon, a man of what some call the Wahindi tribe (Asian), shared a unique testimony. This past week, he had told the members of his service club made up of Asian men about the relief efforts of our church. He shared with them that our actions were guided by Isaiah 60:1, 'Arise and shine.' The group decided to work through our church with their relief efforts as they trusted what was being done. The deacon shared that most of his fellow service club members are not Christians and they did not fully understand Isaiah 60:1, but they had adopted this great saying as their current logo! Our God does work in mysterious ways! "

It was also a special moment when one of the Deacons quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 and used it as a guide for the morning prayer. "As he prayed, I realized that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now and miss out on watching how God is at work in Kenya at this time!"

The missionary said her church services are not as time conscious as ours and often last two hours or more - as did that morning's. "We heard the planned sermon and an opening mini-sermon on the true source of peace: 'You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you' (Isaiah 26:3).

"No one needed to be reminded that the weapons many are using in Kenya are the same ones used during Bible times! To end this special time, we quoted verse 10 together, 'Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations.' I don't wish that any of you had to face the current stresses of Kenya, but I wish you could have experienced the unity and sense of God's presence in our service this morning!"

The missionary concluded: "I know I am focusing on just one church again, but I have no doubt that the reactions, responses, and commitments made in our church this morning were repeated all over Kenya as Christians joined together to worship the one true source of peace! Thank you for praying us through this last week and thank you for the assurance we have that you will continue praying. Rather than giving you new prayer items, I will simply challenge you to read through Psalm 46 as we will do this week and use it as a prayer guide for Kenya and other places of strife."

** Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent of ANS, is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station. Michael's involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- Michael Ireland Media Missionary (MIMM) -- of ACT International at: Artists in Christian Testimony (ACT) International. His weblog appears at: Michael Ireland Media Missionary.

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