North Christian Church’s Joshua Kiilu hardly considered himself a leader.
“I always saw myself,” said Kiilu, “as more behind the scenes.”
Until the people in his povertystricken hometown of Machakos, Kenya, desperately needed help. Then he gradually stepped to the forefront.
Kiilu and nine other church members on Friday will make North Christian’s third trip since 2007 to the small town about 45 miles south of Nairobi. But the rough-hewn roads mean the journey stretches several hours by vehicle.
Church members will help dig a well, operate a medical clinic and proceed with the construction of the African Inland Church. That $75,000, threestory structure also will house Katisaa Educational Center and become a base for badly needed health care, too. “ T h ro u g h this, I’ve come to realize that you don’t really always know how you can impact someone’s life,” said Kiilu, who worked for Indianapolis’ Eli Lilly & Co. in information technology before he lost his job. “A little thing you might do that you believe has only a little impact can turn out to be the very thing that was needed in a person’s life.”
Any assistance looms large in Machakos, where most workers earn only $3 per day. Kiilu discovered four years ago that residents, including the elderly and children, walked as far as eight to 10 miles to a church worship service. Currently, a cramped structure functions as the only Christian church for 300 in that village within the city. Once Kiilu began networking with others to build a new structure, he knew the work meant longterm commitment. “I pledged in my heart that this would go on,” he said. At the time, nothing in his background connected with major building projects or bringing clean water to an area beset by waterborne illness. But now the man with a master’s in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University soon will earn his project management certification for this type of effort. He would like to undertake such work full time. Machakos pastor Josephat Lumumba Wambua wrote a gushing letter of thanks to North Christian volunteers after one of their visits. “We need your prayers,” he wrote, “so that God will lead us all the way to see the church building erected.” Currently, the first level stands complete. For now, more support is needed. In a town where school children break their pencils in half and in thirds to share with other students with none, Kiilu promises that any funds contributed to the project will serve a purpose even larger than he can fully imagine. “I know how hard it is,” he said, “to get the simple things for them that we take for granted.” Columbus native Ashley Burton has seen the same thing on mission trips to Puerto Rico and Guatemala. The surgical technician from Ortho Indy in Greenwood will assist with a four-day medical clinic in Kenya. But she’s going primarily to open her heart to the people there. “I don’t think others fully realize how much these people in other countries appreciate us being there,” said Burton. In Puerto Rico in 2004, natives there asked her and other Christian volunteers one day to stop working and simply visit with them. “They gave me something special,” said Burton, “and they don’t even know.”
Dr. Sheryl Elston, of Columbus, spent time with a group of Kenyan children during a previous trip organized through North Christian Church.
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