Mark Moore and I conducted this podcast in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
Like other Nairobi slums, Mathare grew as a result of massive rural-to-urban migration. Mathare has a population density of 1,000+ residents per 2.3 acres For comparison, Manhattan has a residential density of 70,000 residents per square mile or 270 people per 2.5 acres. It is, however, important to note that almost all Manhattan residents live in buildings between four and 30 stories, whereas Mathare consists primarily of single-story structures.
We had a chance to teach 50 pastors and hear many of their stories as well as see firsthand how the residents of Mathare live.
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Let’s Go 360: https://www.letsgo360.org/
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Mark: We came to the camp over here on the coast, and as we were getting oriented to the camp, one of the problems that they deal with, they don't have disciplinary problems because these kids have never seen the ocean that's on the coast of their country. They have never eaten this well and they do not want to get sent home. So they have no discipline problems. But one of the problems they run into is bedwetting. And these are six grade six grade children. The reason this I just can't hardly describe the pain this caused. The reason their bedwetting is in the slums. You would never get out of bed to go to the bathroom because there are no bathrooms in your home. A little girl would have to walk up a dark street with drunk men who regularly rape girls their age, so they choose to wet the bed every night rather than risk going to the bathroom, getting raped. So coming to camp, it doesn't cross their mind to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.
Larrie: Welcome to another episode of Let's Go 360, a podcast for those who are interested in knowing what God is doing around the world. And today it's truly around the world. Dr. Mark Moore and I are sitting here in Kilifi, Kenya, where we are winding down an amazing trip with our Kenyan brothers and sisters at MOHI. If you're not familiar with MOHI, check out a previous episode where we have interviewed Mary and Wallace Kamau. And so we're winding up our trip today, waiting for our bus to go, and it's been an amazing trip. Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark: Thank you. It's good to be here, especially from Kenya. Like you said, to put this in perspective, every once in a while you run into missionaries that you feel like if they were alive in the days of the apostle Paul, they would be with Paul or maybe even Paul himself. And Mary Kamau is one of those that has made such a difference in the entire nation of Kenya. So it's an honor to walk in her shadow.
Larrie: And this episode is exciting for me because I get to travel with my best friend and our wives are accompanying us on this trip, and it's just been amazing watching them interact with the ladies and the people at MOHI and the different sites and schools that we have visited. It's also exciting for me because guess what? I've actually been to a place that Mark Moore has not.
Mark: That's not very hard for you, Larrie. You've been everywhere.
Larrie: So at any rate, let's try to recap the week and kind of take you through what we've experienced the best we can. It started off, of course, at the airport where our trips were on time and no delays. We had probably one of my fastest trips to Africa and to Kenya because we literally had less than an hour in our flights that we had to connect to.
Mark: In in London.
Larrie: In London.
Mark: It was so for those of you listening, Barbara and I got on the plane, Larrie just said, go ahead. We got through security, go, go to the plane. And I was to help hold the door open like I could actually do that. They did hold the door open about 10 minutes past what they normally do. And here comes Larrie and Sheila. I believe you guys were the last people on the plane.
Larrie: We were. We were the last people on the plane. The flights were great. The seats weren't all that comfortable. We flew in economy. And so but we made it through and landed safely. And then, of course, getting through customs and in Nairobi is usually a challenge, but we made it through fairly unscathed. The other last thing that happened, as we were collecting our luggage, we kept waiting for the last piece of luggage. Of course, that's mine. So I'm already prepared. Okay. I know what's going to happen with this. I've been here before. My luggage won't come. And three days later, the luggage will show up. But it'll probably show up in a place that I'm not. And so as we were almost ready to start heading to the baggage claim area and talk with an attendant, here comes this lone piece of luggage. The very last piece of luggage on the on the on the plane. And so, anyhow, God was you know, he sometimes can be fairly humorous, and so anyhow, we collected our luggage and of course our our transport was waiting for us and we made our way late at night, around midnight to our place where we were staying our first night. So it was a great trip over and everyone was safe. So now we're in Nairobi and we're staying at the La Manda Resort or hotel, which is kind of a guesthouse kind of thing. But it was it was nice and it was clean. And so we got to I don't know whether we slept that night or not. I think last night was the first night that I actually slept. But anyhow, we finished the night and first thing in the morning we were up and ready to go for our first day. Mark, do you remember that day?
Mark: Yeah, We headed over to MOHI. Of course. MOHI is all across Kenya, but kind of the the headquarters are right there in Nairobi on the edges of the slums. And whatever you think of slums, unless you've been to MOHI, you're probably not thinking like what it actually is. It's not just tenement housing, it's shacks with corrugated metal as the roofs, room after room after room, dark dirt floors, sewage running down the streets. And in this housing, what did you say? A million people live in this project. It's a three mile by three mile area.
Mark: So it's not just large. It's think of a million people in a three mile square area. The density and the depth of poverty was was overwhelming. And probably what what struck me, Larrie, because my wife has a very sensitive smell. I do not I bout choked and not just for a moment for about an hour while I was there and thinking about people who live there long enough that they they almost don't smell that smell.
Larrie: Yeah. You know, obviously, we get used to things, but this is an experience that you will never forget. There is not a time that I don't go by someone that at home that has a charcoal grill on and that will take me back to Africa, because in the slums the only thing they cook on is charcoal. So they sell charcoal all throughout the slum area for a few shillings each. And then, of course, they take that back and one piece of charcoal that maybe a four inch square of charcoal will burn and last all day and be hot enough for them to cook whatever meals, if they even eat meals a day. So our first day we were going through orientation. That's about a, oh, a little over a half a day experience where the leaders at Missions of Hope will speak and tell us about their ministry. And one thing that I we, Mark and Barbara, have noticed right from the beginning of how proud they are of what they're doing and how thankful they are for being involved in the ministry that they're in. We sat through presentation after presentation as these leaders got up with so much passion and joy of what it is that they specifically do. You know, some of them are in charge of of teaching women how to sew and making the uniforms for the kids. There's a clinic available and also there's micro-financing that MOHI helps with the the the people of the slums get their business start.
Mark: Yeah. One of the things one of the things that struck me, Larrie, is you've got this systemic poverty. And whenever there's systemic property, there's a system that is broken. And I was talking to Mary Kamau about that. You know, you've got the Kenyan government, which is one of the most stable governments in Africa, and yet their care for the poorest of the poor, they just don't have the resources to do it. And Mary said if if we are going to solve poverty in Kenya, it will be a grassroots effort. And you should know this the grassroots effort is always Christian based. Now, there are some some Islamic benevolence, but it's usually tied to evangelism, so it's more of a bribe to convert. And that's not what Mary and Wallace are doing here. They are in the slums providing vocational training for adults, literacy for women, schools for children. So the only way out of the slum is through education. And if they get an education, which has been rare until Marion Wallace came to the slums, then they can they can find a way to move into a vocation that gives them an occupation, that gets them out of the systemic poverty for prostitution, for women, for drug dealing, for boys. And one of the things, Larrie, maybe you could share this, the house that we went into of this woman who didn't want to do what she was doing.
Larrie: Yeah. Inside the the slums themselves. Imagine thousands of corrugated steel connected structures that have four by eight sheets of corrugated steel, which the government provides, but it's up to the homeowner or each family to actually construct their home. And they do that by taking wire and wiring these four sheets of metal together, sharing a common wall, usually on two sides. But sometimes they can share a common wall on three sides. So you're that close quarters. So the other thing that's obvious in the slums is that there's no light inside of these homes because the steel is, you know, dense and thick. It's not fiberglass, it's steel. So the rooms themselves are very, very dark. And so they light them with whatever means they they can light them with. It could be candles. Sometimes they will find an electric line. And some usually a child will shimmy up the the electric pole and literally connect two wires to a line and then lead them down into their house. So they. So they have electric until they get caught. And then then then all of a sudden that's gone as well. This particular lady actually had a business that made alcohol. Now we couldn't quite figure out the formula, but we got that it take water and sugar. And then there was some other substance which we assumed was some kind of hops or or cornmeal or something. She didn't describe it that way. She described it as a block. And this block must have some kind of must have some kind of things that, you know, some some chemical that obviously fermented and made made the alcohol. And so she provided this alcohol to customers. And while we were there
Mark: And she offered me a drink
Larrie: Oh, of course.
Mark: Which of course I turned down.
Larrie: But we did smell it.
Mark: It's moonshine. That's what we're talking.
Larrie: Yeah. And we did not get it. We made sure that it didn't get too close to the candle. And so. So there was customers waiting. And. And she explained to us that she was Christian. In fact, she had Christian posters on her walls. There was a picture of Jesus on a calendar and and she had to do this in order to survive. And her children, she did not like to be around what was going on. So she literally had them not live with her.
Mark: She sent her boy away, away.
Larrie: So that he would not be.
Mark: Exposed. The girl she locked in the other room while the men of the community came and got drunk. And it just it was so sad for me. And then so we're in this eight by ten room, some of them maybe ten by 12 rooms that are dark and dirt floors. And then I'm going to fast forward, Larrie. We came to the camp over here on the coast, and as we were getting oriented to the camp, one of the problems that they deal with, they don't have disciplinary problems because these kids have never seen the ocean that's on the coast of their country. They have never eaten this well and they do not want to get sent home. So they have no discipline problems. But one of the problems they run into is bed wetting. And these are six grade six grade children. The reason this I just can't hardly describe the pain this caused, the reason their bed wetting is in the slums. You would never get out of bed to go to the bathroom because there are no bathrooms in your home. A little girl would have to walk up a dark street with drunk men who regularly rape girls their age, so they choose to wet the bed every night rather than risk going to the bathroom, getting raped. So coming to camp, it doesn't cross their mind to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.
Larrie: And what Mark is referring to is MOHI has approximately 34 schools, and half of those schools are within the Mathare Valley slum area. The other half are in the surrounding area. And one of the schools that we're going to visit actually today, we're not finished, is Mtongani. Mtongani is a school that we've started. And so you'll hear about that either if we choose to extend this podcast or we'll do another one, but we will we'll talk about what's happening at Mtongani. I don't know what to expect. The last time we were there, we were shovelling, breaking ground to begin to begin the school. Now there are kids there that are thriving. And so we are really expecting a great trip today. But today but today we're getting up from Kilifi which where which is where we started the Angazi school camp. Now, what's an Angazi camp for children? Well, we support an organization called UCYC at CCV up in Prescott, where our kids go get to go and experience camp. The Angazi camp is just that. It's right on the beach that MOHI acquired some property. And over the years, Keith and Kathy Ham have put together this amazing camp for sixth graders to attend. It's an experience that will literally change the trajectory of these kids lives. These are sixth graders that's never been out of the slums. And all of a sudden they come to this amazing camp where they sleep in clean beds. They're some of them able to take a shower for the very first time. And they have the camp week all planned out for them. It's actually two weeks. And they actually, because it's so close to the ocean, can walk down to the beach and get into the water of of the ocean, of which none of them have ever been able to experience. It's a two week camp. They go back via train to Nairobi. It's about a six hour train ride. And then the next week the boys arrive and this camp goes on week every two weeks, all year round, with the exception of a breaks at Easter and Christmas.
Mark: You know, one thing, Larrie, that struck me is at CCV, we count the number of hours we have kids. And the reason we prioritize our summer camps is we actually have more hours with the kids in one week than our coaches and counselors have all year long combined. And so think about these kids in the slums having a healthy experience, scripture memorization, Bible teaching, singing and worship for an entire ten days. They've never had that in their lives. And that's why it makes such a huge impact. There's not just on the kids. The story I heard yesterday, a young man was once you once you graduate from high school in Mathare slums, some of those the best of the best, are allowed to be counselors at the camp for the sixth graders is one young man said, I'm very nervous about being a father because I didn't have a father and all the men in my life, it was riddled with crime and corruption and poverty. His experience of being a camp counselor gave him the confidence that he could actually raise his own children because they looked up to him as a dad.
Larrie: Yeah, well, we all know the value of a camp. Personally, when I went to camp, it's where I accepted Christ. And so that experience for these kids is just unmeasurable. And the good news is that they had recently he has recently acquired some property right next to this property, which they plan to build a 10th grader camp so that these kids that are going through the sixth grade right now, every one of them wants to know when they're coming back. Now, through God's grace, we hope that we'll be able to provide them a camp to come back to in their 10th year of school, setting them on a course for the rest of their life.
Mark: Yeah. So you think about sixth grade, the decisions you make in a sixth grade, and then fast forward to 10th grade. Those are two pivotal years that really determine trajectory of your life. And so it's not just, hey, we're going to throw out a camp for a couple of age groups. But MOHI has thought carefully about the stages of development of children and when they can make the maximum impact on their lives.
Larrie: Well, Mark, before we close, let's let's tell them one other experience that we we got to do and the privilege of being able to teach about 50 pastors on Friday. And Mark and I well, let's face it, Mark taught the book of Matthew, and I taught a couple of leadership lessons. But together we were we were honored to be able to to be in front of these passionate, unbelievably committed pastors to their cause. We want to share a little bit about that.
Mark: Yeah, And just God has allowed me to teach at various levels, graduate graduate school in three different places. These students who are as underprivileged as any students I've ever had were as engaged, ask as good a questions. Those who are poor are not unintelligent, and these are brilliant men and women of God that are in some in some ways risking their lives. Not all of them, but a lot of them are persecuted and working with poverty and by vocational. I just can't tell you the level of respect I have for them intellectually, spiritually and socially. God's raising up an army here in Africa to be on the front lines of preparing for the second coming of Christ.
Larrie: There is no question about that, Mark, in my mind. I know you know what I'm talking about, but I've been here several times now and I've had the opportunity to really observe what's happening in the world and how God is moving. And groups like MOHI and TCM, which are where these students are attending right now, is another key partner of CCV. I know that some of you listening have been on the TCM trip in Austria, and so we still continue to to do many of those. We're planning more trips back to MOHI here where you'll be able to meet some of these pastors not only in Austria but also here now in Nairobi. Well, Mark, thanks for joining us today. And we look forward to what God's going to do not only throughout this trip, but the future trips will make together.
Mark: Yeah, and one thing we didn't mention, so I'm just going to put a teaser for the next episode. We didn't talk at all about the medical care. MOHI is taking care of education for children, vocation for adults, medical care for all. So that body, soul and spirit and church planting spiritual needs can be met as well. God bless MOHI. Please pray for MOHI and if you get a chance to sign up for a medical trip or a work trip or a training trip with MOHI, he I would jump on that ASAP.
Larrie: Thanks for listening.