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There is no question that 2020 was a very hard year for all of us. No one is unaffected, and we are battling still. Doubt, confusion, frustration and discouragement have circled as well. Where do we start in trying to unpack what has happened and what is still happening? With God’s word:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
– 1 Peter 5:6-7
We hope these verses are an encouragement to you as well, no matter what you go through.
What are we up to?
Community Center Project
Our current project focus continues to be the AMATI community center we are developing near Kakamega with our partner Paul Amakobe (AMATI founder). Here is the video we shared in our last update:
Over the development process, we have decided to start smaller than we originally intended. We are focusing on building a center that has one full auto mechanic center equipped for vocational training and classrooms for reading/writing skills, Bible training and community meetings.
Currently, the first step of the project is getting a borehole drilled and installed. Once that is done and paid for, we will move into the community center building itself and all that goes into that.
While the final budget for the community center and mechanic shop is still being developed, we urgently need $4,500 USD to finish paying for the borehole project which is already underway. You can pray about helping us meet this specific current goal and please share the need with others.
Click on the button below to go to our ‘GIVE’ Page and follow the instructions to allocate your giving to the project here:
Family and School
We had the privilege of coming back to the U.S. for the month of December to see family and enjoy Christmas together with them. Some of our family had not even met Emma yet, so that was very special.
Crazy as it sounds….we are still here waiting to hopefully fly back to Kenya. Our original return date was January 1st, but that changed quickly on December 31st when we found out that our flight had been canceled and we had a positive COVID test in our family. We have had to push back our potential travel date to January 28.
We have continued to trust in God’s timing. One real positive highlight that came out of our delayed time in America was that Sam got to celebrate his 7th birthday (Jan 6) with family for the first time in his life. All of his other birthday’s have happened while we were overseas. Even still, we do miss being back home in Kenya.
At school Jen has continued to be a great asset to Woodland Star where she teaches. It is her passion and even though she is in the unenviable position of being in the States while the school semester started a few weeks ago, she remains hard at work to prepare all of the lessons for her classes and be as available as she can be to the students, sub teachers and parents.
Be praying for us over this upcoming week for God’s timing and provision for us to make it back to Kenya safely. No matter how we may feel about the current regulations for travel, they are required so we hope and pray for the best.
Sincere blessings in Christ. We love and appreciate you so much. Please get in touch with us and let us know how you are doing. It means the world to us hearing from you.
Brenton, Jen, Sam and Emma
We are in the initial stages of developing a new community center in Kakamega with our Amati partner. Enjoy the video and we hope you will feel the passion that we have and be moved to help us make this all possible. You can go to our give page and as you give please designate your giving as ‘Community Center’.
“It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you.”
Tim Keller – The Reason for God (pg. 245)
This food relief journey over the last several months has been amazing and challenging all in one. We praise God for all he has provided to care for so many families during the lock down, up to the day of when Kenya began to re-open back in the first week of July.
The most wonderful part of this food relief is that our three partners have been able to minister the love of Christ to many, many people who are seeing God’s love in action physically and spiritually. Below is a video of Pastor Alex and his friends praying over Aaron, a blind Maasai. In this massive world, God shows his love to a single individual in the middle of Kenya.
Our hope is to continue our food relief through the beginning of August. Even though Kenya began to lift the lock down this month, so many people are still struggling badly to find work again. Recovery does not happen overnight, especially in a developing country. The challenging part of our food relief this month is that it has taken 3 weeks to reach 50% of our weekly goal of $2000. We would love to finish on a high note.
The reason we share this real struggle is simply a testimony that walking in relationship with God and serving others is not easy or clear cut. There are so many ups and downs, questions and doubts that accompany the joy and enthusiasm on this journey of faith.
That is why we stay focused on the object of our faith, which is Jesus. Not only did he die for the sins of the world and rise again to offer salvation to all who believe, but he loves each and every person in the world more than we ever could….including ourselves. In that, we find our hope, rest and the strength to continue on.
So whats next?
We are now turning our focus back toward sustainability as we are in the early stages of developing a community center with Amati in Kakamega. This center will be multi-purpose:
- Reading and writing skills
- Bible teaching
- Vocational training and certification in the areas of: Carpentry, Plumbing, Mechanical, Sewing and Masonry
- Playground for kids
- Fun community relationship/mentoring opportunities and other events such as movie nights
Currently, we are in the brainstorming development phase with the goal of designing the property and creating a projected multi-year budget that would then be broken down into annual benchmark goals to be attained, with the ultimate goal of the center becoming self-sustained.
How exciting to start this project and see what God does in so many lives, not only in the community, but all who come from the surrounding areas.
How are we doing?
We love the SOULD ministry and teaching at Woodland Star we are doing. We have lived in Kenya over a combined 24 years and we are humbled that God has given us this privilege to serve in this country.
We are so thankful for all of you who continue to faithfully support us and generously give, allowing God to use you and simultaneously grow your faith in him by surrendering your finances to him. We would not be here without your amazing support.
It is increasingly becoming financially difficult for us (especially now) and we really need our support base to grow again. Kenya is our home and where we pray God will allow us to stay indefinitely.
We ask you to partner with us in any of these amounts:
1 partner at $250/month
5 partners at $100/month
5 partners at $50/month
20 partners at $25/month
Donate here: www.souldafrica.org/give
Please pray and consider being a financial partner with our ministry and walk with us on this incredible journey to positively impact the people of Kenya combining the gospel of Christ with sustainable development. It is a patient process with a long term focus.
We have worked diligently to develop the relationships with AMATI, MARANATHA and DORCAS Ministries and God has been doing some special things so far through the food relief. We know he has greater things in store for these ministries and we deeply desire to be a part of it.
We love our little family. At home, from building office furniture, a chicken coop, cooking pie, to hiking and camping after the lock-down ended we have kept busy and stayed positive.
Love and Blessings from Kenya,
Brenton, Jen, Sam and Emma.
Food Relief Continues
The last two weeks have been special for us and our partners. Each week we have been able to reach our full 100% goal ($2,000 USD weekly) early in the week which not only allowed our partners Maranatha, Amati and Dorcas ministries to prepare ahead of time for food purchase and distribution, but it was a great encouragement to all of us to see God provide so miraculously.
We are so very grateful to all of you who have helped us thus far. Pastor Issac, Paul and Pastor Alex are at the forefront leading up our feeding distribution and they truly have gone above and beyond to reach as many families as possible. They are the love of Christ to all we are serving.
Because we have been able to reach our goals each week, we have been able to expand the communities we have served from 7 to 9. What a privilege to bless new communities with food and God’s love.
Our biggest challenge is that the Kenyan government has just extended the lockdown for the fourth time for 30 more days! Please pray for Kenya as this worsens the food needs dramatically.
In case you missed the recently released music video we made with the song ‘Sweetest Flower’, written and performed by Connor Hollifield specifically for our food relief. Thank you Connor!
As a family we are thankful for God’s provision and to be living in a peaceful community with tea and forest space to enjoy, especially during the lockdown. Jen continues to work hard at teaching her students online and in addition to ministry, Brenton leads up homeschooling for Sam while school remains closed. Sweet little Emma turned 1 this very week. We are thrilled she is part of our little family.
Thank you again for your tremendous support and generosity for us personally and for the incredibly important food relief that we are focused on during this crisis. Please continue praying for Kenya, stay in touch, ask questions and God’s blessings to each of you.
Love from Kenya,
Brenton, Jen, Sam and Emma