The 2015 HOPE Youth Corps in Kenya

By Yang Baffle

On 14 July 2015 the Nairobi HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) began with twelve disciples from different countries and eight local disciples from the Nairobi Christian Church Campus Ministry joining together to do one thing -- serve.

On the first of four days at the Nairobi Christian Church Academy we were all tentative but excited as we got to know each other. We were there to make teaching aids for different classes. Being at the school was AMAZING! During recess some of us would slip out and go toss balloons with the kids as they were being given tea and porridge. The children were happy and all smiles as they interacted with all the young people from different backgrounds, countries, and cultures.

As the HYC, we were working in teams of four and having a blast. The competition was on for who could do the best education materials and do the best presentations to the students.  We worked on these efforts for four days and had a great time spending time and sharing with each other and with the students. The anticipation was high as the students waited for the HYC to come to their classes to present and explain the education materials they had made.

The HYC team 2015

As we presented the work we had done, the kids were so encouraged. They were all very attentive as they listened to what was being taught during the presentations. They asked lots of questions which the team did their best to answer. On the last day we said good-bye and wished them the very best in their exams, and they in turn asked us to come back soon.

On Friday we were off for a ‘safari’ day trip to Rift Valley area near Nairobi and the View Point. All the internationals (as well as the locals) marveled at the magnificent landscape. The international team kept commenting on the beauty of Kenya and how awesome it would be to move here. Those of us living here were proud that we do!

Later in the afternoon we all arrived back in time for the Campus devotional and the HYC had time to spend with other campus students. It was like we were all family and were having a happy and spirited family reunion!

A fired up devo was followed by a HYC fire side BBQ—nothing better than food and fellowship. On Saturday we were off to the school for a Sports Day! Each HYC team worked with a group of the children in teams of blue, yellow, green and red. We coached, cheered, laughed, played, and participated in the activities. The competition was tough since every team had been practicing for the past week. There was running, riding tires, plaiting hair, carrying each other, sack racing, and other activities. At the end of the day the winning teams were announced and my team – the yellow team won!

At the Sunday Service Nick Shoff and Sahai Fleurant shared the communion message and convicted our hearts. Sahai spent several of her younger years in Kenya with her family who were leading the Church at the time. She was like a local celebrity and everyone was so encouraged how she has grown and is serving in such a great way. This was her 10th HYC!

The HYC team takes part in a sports event with the Nairobi Christian Academy pupils held at Busara primary school in Umoja, Nairobi

Later in the week we visited the Mukuru Slums where HOPE worldwide Kenya does one of its signature programs, and where the HOPE work started in 1999. In 2008 Nick Shoff started Jam Quest - a volunteer organization in the U.S. that facilitates high school basketball tournaments. The funds raised through these tournaments have been providing secondary school fees for youth in Mukuru who weren't able to raise school fees.

This visit was for the beneficiaries to meet Nick, and for Nick and the team to meet them. The smiles on the faces of the youth were worth more than words. We also did several home visits so the team could see where those supported came from. As well as smiles there were also tears. The parents were more than grateful for the assistance they have been receiving from JamQuest.

HYC team enjoy a basketball game with JamQuest beneficiaries in Mukuru

The youth from Mukuru expressed desire and convictions to do their best in school and succeed so they can help others one day. The humble circumstances in which these young people live gives deeper insight to the scripture that talks about godliness with contentment is great gain.  After the home visits and a tour through an informal High School where several of the students attend we had some time to dance and have fun, take selfies and catch up, take tea and play some basketball. This experience to me (as I know to all of the team) was heart changing and eye opening.

The culmination of the two weeks was a farewell banquet where awards were given, speeches made, sharing done, and everyone preparing to bid each other goodbye. You couldn’t tell the difference between the locals and the visitors. There was a remarkable change as compared to day one. New friendships were created, reunions were made and most of all God was glorified.

L-R, Lara, Delaney, Cameron, Takia, Natalie, Amber, Mckenzie, and front David. Part of the international HYC team serving in Kenya

One thing I learned from all this--as long as there is a need out there that we are able to meet, we need to keep serving.

Faith, hope and love are things we can never run out of or stop giving. I was wishing the whole thing was a three-month program. We are ever grateful to HWWK and the HYC for giving us locals this opportunity. We are very inspired to rise up as young leaders and to continue doing our best for God.