When Daryn asked if I wanted to go with him to Africa, excited at the prospect, I asked him “when?”. It was the beginning of March and to comply with my companies time-off policy, I had to ask no later than a month in advance. He said “Beginning of April” and later told me it would be 10 days. Plus travel. I talked with Lindsey, my wife, and she was okay with it as long as I came back. I knew talking with my boss would be a challenge because of time, so I wrote a letter explaining the purpose of the trip and why it was important for me to go. A couple of days later it was approved, and we had the green light.
Thank you to all of you, some who I know are not here today, for your support in making the opportunity possible. Our presence there as a worship team, albeit a small one, was both a blessing to the doctors and their families, as well as to us. Your prayers were vital and effective in God’s provision over us and I know that had it not been for Him, Daryn may still have been running through the Great Rift Valley trying to find his way to Nairobi. You can ask him more about that later.
I’ll be honest in saying that I did not expect the first part of our trip to be at such a nice place, but God works in really wonderful ways, and I probably question Him about them too much anyway, so I forced myself to be okay with it. While there, we spent time getting to know as many of the doctors as we were able to in side conversations or meals together, but the Nugent family, who I hadn’t met and knew very little about prior to the trip (besides reading their blog on the churches website), were the family we ended up spending the most time with. It was through them and the conversations we had late into the evenings that I gained an understanding of the work they do in Tenwek, and the incredible stories of the people they are helping and saving on a daily basis. We discussed not only the various needs of the people in a third-world country, but more specifically what it meant to be on “Mission” for Christ. In these discussions, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat, for lack of a better term, insignificant. Reflecting on those feelings later I realized they were selfish, but maybe you can understand. There I sat in the company of orthopedic, general, and neurological surgeons and doctors who studied for years to excel in their field of study, then travel overseas, forsaking the American paychecks and (from my naive perspective) an upper class life, to help people who have no access to our standards of treatment. I sat there, not feeling like I brought much to the table with my drumming and wondered what it meant for me, Steve Birge, what it meant for ME to be on mission. Not in Kenya, but here at home. Beyond banging this kit behind me a couple times a month. Beyond coming in here on Sundays and absorbing a good and well-studied sermon and trying to analyze how it applies to me and how good it makes me feel to understand and agree with Jerry, or Daryn, or whoever is preaching. Maybe talk about it a little with someone or at community group. Too often being on “Mission” applies only to those who went abroad to take the Gospel to other languages, but this trip brought that term into focus for me, as God has had to do so many times before.
I thought about that, and I learned about a beautiful people in need of God’s healing and saving. Similar to the people in need here in my neighborhood. Across my street. At my workplace. All of whom have more “stuff” and “opportunity” available to them here in the United States but need the same Gospel spoken to them. Going into “all the world” includes the place God has me now.
In sharing about this journey, I know that there are still many things I’ve yet to process and understand about God’s work there, and in me. In summary, Kenya was a beautiful country. I saw more of God’s creativity there, in nature and in human diversity. It was beautiful to see His hand at work in the professionals at Tenwek like Dylan and Jessica and their family. It was miraculous to be a part of that work, at least financially as a church, in giving toward the specific needs of a girl named Mercy and seeing God’s grace flow to her through the hands of Gulf Coast. I was humbled to serve with my talent of hitting things at the right time in songs to God. I watched as Daryn became one of probably less than 1% of the global population who has ridden a camel on the beach. These things will be with me forever.
Again, I humbly thank you all for your support financially and in prayer. The Kingdom of God is moving and we are a part of it. Please be in prayer for the Nugent family who I believe is back in the States now. I know Dylan could really use it while he studies for some important Doctor exams he has to take while here.