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Pray, Weep, Act – Reflections from Colleen Costigan

May 14, 2014 by Diana Coombs

Turbo is a slum community about 10 miles outside of the ELI Kipkaren River Training Center in Kenya. It has been on the hearts and mind of Empowering Lives for many years. Why?

It is full of problems: alcoholism, jiggers and orphans, just to name a few.

What do you see when you walk through there?

Poverty.

Suffering.

Hopelessness.

pray weep act

What do you do?

Pray.

Weep.

Act.

One picture of praying, weeping and acting is with a woman named Susan. She lives in Turbo in a semi-permanent home made of dilapidated mud walls and an iron sheath roof with seven children (four of her own, two grandchildren and one orphan her family took in from the streets). She is an uncontrolled insulin dependent diabetic, and her sugars often average 500 mm/dL. When Susan is healthy, she struggles to cook and sell local food at the market in order to afford food, medicine, rent and school fees for her family.

For months, I just went to her house and prayed.

That was it. 

One day I saw Susan, and she was singing God’s praises because miraculously, the headmaster (principal) at the school had waived the school fees for her kids. An answer to our prayers!

A few months later, Susan’s health began deteriorating. She was no longer able to cook and sell food at the market.  The school fee issues popped up again. Her six-year-old grandson Stanley was sent home from school because of $6 in school fees. I continued to visit a few times a week. Stanley was always hanging around the house, oftentimes alone.

So I wept.

Because the world is not fair. Because the disparity between the rich and the poor is enraging. Because $6 means almost nothing to me but everything to this little boy.

You might be thinking, pay the $6. It is simple. Celebrate the victory. End of story. Move on to the next problem.

And after being in Kenya for one month in 2012, I would have thought the same thing.

After being here for six months, my eyes have been opened to some new questions. Pay the $6 and then what? What about finding a sustainable means of income for the family? What about empowerment?

But how long can you wait for empowerment while a six-year-old sits at home alone? And does fear of dependence mean you shouldn’t give towards a relief effort because you might effect long term change?

Praying seems fairly easy.

Weeping seems relatively manageable.

Action?

It seems confusing, frustrating, challenging and complex.

But confusion, frustration, challenge and complexity are not new to God. And neither is poverty. So we continue to show up in Turbo, seek His will and try to discern His perfect mix of praying, weeping and acting.

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Categories: Empowering Lives Intern Voice Kenya