“But when He saw the multitudes,
He was moved with compassion for them,
because they were weary and scattered,
like sheep having no shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 (NKJV)
One morning, as I waited for my mom to get ready, I sat in my living room and turned my TV on. I opted not to watch the saturday morning cartoons. Instead, I was captivated by the World Vision commercial on the following channel. I was so overwhelmed and consumed with compassion for the children I saw being profiled that my eyes started to well up with tears and soon the tears were strolling down my face.
Ever since I can remember, my heart has broken for the poor, the needy, the lost, the orphaned of Africa. My pastor once told our church that he was planning on building an orphanage on the coast of South Africa. As we left the service, my mom said to me, “There you go Nik, you can go work in that orphanage.” My response was, “No Mom, I am going to go build it.”
A few years later, my compassionate heart moved me….all the way to Africa.
At the tender age of 17, I left home and ventured to Kenya. I didn’t know what was I was getting myself into.
3 days into my trip, homesickness kicked in and I was miserable. I didn’t understand. This was my life-long dream, this is what made my heart flutter, this was what God had put on my heart at a very early age. And I hated it. I cried out to God for days and days to bring me home. But He didn’t. He had different plans.
And boy am I ever glad that He did.
Meet Mercy Jepcosgei.
She is a dear friend of mine. She caught my attention right away. Everywhere I was, I was always looking for her. We didn’t talk much. She was (and still isn’t) a very outgoing young girl. But she was captivating.
One night at devotions, I sat in a gazebo and listened to 50 orphaned children belt out some familiar swahili chorus’. I was sitting on a bench and looked up to my right only to see Mercy. I watched her clap her hands, sway back and forth, and sing aloud with all her heart. Those familiar tears welled up in my eyes again. I was moved with compassion for her. I didn’t know where she came from or what had happened in her life. I didn’t know what her dreams were. I didn’t know what she was good at. I didn’t know her favorite colour or her favorite food. But I fell instantly in love with her. Compassion overwhelmed my heart once again.
As I sat beside her, I wondered how I could show her how much I loved her. How do I put this love and compassionate heart that God has given me into action? How do I move with compassion?
One night, I was in her room (that she shares with 11 other girls) when I noticed that she was feeling a bit down. She was lying on her bed watching the other girls dance and play around the room. I asked if everything was ok and she said that she was fine. I then overheard her telling her friend that she had a cold. I simply reached over and started to rub her back.
This time, tears welled up in her eyes.
At that moment I could tell that she knew that I loved her.
The next morning, I got up very early and headed back to see her. She was in her room, folding her clothers. I said to her, “How are you doing today?” “Fine” she replied. I then walked across the room and put my arms around her.
At that moment, tears welled up in both eyes.
This is a picture of Mercy (left) and I 4 years later. I have been to Kenya every year since then. Most recently, I spent 10 months in Kenya serving with Africa Inland Mission. I have gone to visit Mercy 8 times. I am so excited to see the girl that she will grow up to be. I am excited as I watch her learn to move in the ways of the Lord. I am excited that she is one of my best friends.
I am heading back to Kenya in a few short months.
I am still moving with compassion.