I met John at KE722, a Compassion project in Kenya. He is a seven-year-old Kenyan boy who is both an orphan and HIV positive. His single mother died of AIDS, leaving a shy and withdrawn John to join her brother’s family of six. They live in a shack on a tiny piece of land on the rural outskirts of Nairobi with little food and no work (Kenya’s unemployment rate is 60 per cent).

NEW HOPE: Seven-year-old John is one of a number of children who are beinga assisted through a Compassion child development project in Kenya. PICTURE: Andrew Merry.

 

"The mission of Jesus was to preach the good news to the poor, to heal the sick and to release the captives from captivity - Compassion’s partnership with churches in Kenya is certainly taking Jesus’ challenge to 'do what I have done' seriously."

John’ eyes showed the sadness of his existence, yet he has some hope because of God’s intervention in his life through the Compassion child development project. 

Here, he has an opportunity to be fed, educated, socialised and, most importantly, develop his relationship with God through Jesus. The anti-retroviral drugs are paid for through a complimentary intervention for HIV/AIDS which is operating through Compassion in the area and John is responding well to the drugs which is an answer to prayer.

Throughout Kenya, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is very real although the percentage affected is low compared to other African countries. While at church at the Nairobi Chapel, I heard a testimony from a man whose daughter was molested at the age of nine by a relative that the family was helping by having him in their house.

This well-off Christian family were devastated when their little girl started getting sick at the age of 13 - she hadn’t told them of the sexual abuse and full blown AIDS developed before they discovered what had happened.

The father told the congregation of 1,500 people how, after his daughter got meningitis and tuberculosis, she had an operation on her brain and now, at the age of 14, has been left without speech and movement. His honesty and humility were only surpassed by his love as he told of his journey of forgiveness for the perpetrator.

It was a moving testimony about the reality of the killer disease in the continent of Africa and coming the day after my meeting with little John and his family, drove home the message with graphic poignancy.

The mission of Jesus was to preach the good news to the poor, to heal the sick and to release the captives from captivity - Compassion’s partnership with churches in Kenya is certainly taking Jesus’ challenge to "do what I have done" seriously.

Andrew Merry is the church relations specialist for Queensland at Compassion Australia.

If you've had an experience outside of Australia that you'd like to share with others, simply send an email to [email protected].