It’s hard to imagine a Christmas without the lights and sparkle, one void of Santas and ornate Nativity scenes, a day without an array of delicious foods or an abundance of gifts under a festive tree.
Yet this is exactly how some celebrate Christmas in Kenya.
Meet Sally Watima. Sally is the Administrative Assistant at our partner church, Outreach Community Church (OCC), in Nairobi. As a mother of three, you might expect that she is busy shopping for the latest video game for her 17-year old son Lloyd or looking for a new dollhouse for her daughters Victoria (6 years) and Ruth (8 years). However, that could not be further from the truth.
Sally and her family have not celebrated Christmas, in a traditional sense, for the last three years because Christmastime is “…a tough season, schools are closed and therefore there is little cash flow. During this season there is much anxiety… All my attention during this time is on planning and saving for the new year,” she recently shared.
However, when asked What does Christmas mean to you, Sally’s response could not have been more on point. “Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Christ, it’s not about eating or drinking or dressing up, it’s a time to share the love of Christ.”
Amen, and well stated, Sally. Thank you for that meaningful reminder.
Naomi Wanjiku knows a little something about the true meaning of Christmas as well. A cook at one the OCC kitchens, Naomi shared, “In my opinion, Christmas is all about the birth of Christ, His coming to the world and the opportunity for us to be children of God because of His coming.”
Naomi looks forward to “… traveling to the countryside with my children, I have six; I look forward to celebration time with my parents-in-law and their extended family. I like the opportunity I get to be with my family at Christmas, it a joy to celebrate it all together.”
We wish you a very Merry Christmas, Naomi! May you be blessed beyond measure as you enjoy the wonderful gift that is your family this Christmas day!
We have space to meet one more friend celebrating Christmas in Kenya. Lillian Vuyanda was a beneficiary of a Bright Hope college scholarship. Lillian is now 24, and the first born in a family of five children. She grew up in a typical slum home in the Mathare Valley and Huruma slums in Nairobi, in a one-room, ten-by-ten house with a nearby public bathroom that one could use for a small fee.
Always a hard worker, Lillian grew up helping with her siblings and with the household cooking and cleaning. She was also a serious student, whose studies sometimes suffered because of her many responsibilities at home. It was hard-earned, and well-deserved when Lillian became a recipient of a Bright Hope college scholarship. She’s worked hard and is now a licensed physical therapist.
What does this hard-working, family-loving young lady look forward to most about Christmas? Lillian values relationships, God’s love and sharing what she has with the less fortunate.
When asked What are you looking forward to this Christmas, she replied, “This Christmas I will be travelling to Luo Nyanza and participating in an evangelistic mission with a team called ‘Life for Life’ that was founded by the worship team at Outreach Community Church. While there we will carry out door to door evangelism as well as share our life experiences as well as professional experience with the local people.” She concluded, “Christmas is all about sharing—sharing my life, my experiences, meals and just having a good time.”
God bless you, Lillian. May you reap a great harvest as you share the Gospel this Christmas!
Every day that I work at Bright Hope I am introduced to new people and hear about hardships faced by those living in extreme poverty. I’ve become increasingly convinced that I’m missing out on something extremely important. I can’t deny that I love all the sparkle and tastes of Christmas, but the truth is that it’s not the gifts under the tree that provide the joy and peace that we all seek at Christmas. As Lillian, Naomi and Sally know, the greatest treasure of Christmas is the gift of eternal salvation though God’s son Jesus.
This Christmas can be different for anyone who is willing to:
Embrace Christmas like Sally and remember the birth of Christ.
Grow in gratitude like Naomi and be thankful for God’s gift of salvation.
Share generously like Lillian and give joyfully from your abundance.