Kenya, Set to Music

Since childhood I remember hearing my mother say, “Life would be better if it were set to music.” My Mama loves music, and at age 80 she still takes piano lessons, has season tickets to the symphony, fills her home with music, and loves to dance. Best of all, she shared her love of music with me. Her gift of music enriches my life every day. From music lessons as a child to singing with choirs and worship bands to alone time with an Irish wood flute, my life has been filled with music, testifying to the truth of Mama’s observation that life would be better if it were set to music. Mine certainly has been, and I am so grateful to her for such a wonderful gift.

With such a background, it should come as no surprise that music is part of my morning routine, helping focus my heart and mind on the truth and glory of God. And so is the ‘repeat’ button. Yes, I will admit to worshiping to the same song over and over, dwelling on the character and ways of God affirmed in the song. Sometimes, one song is plenty.

On a recent trip to Kenya, one song drew my heart each morning, “Our Great God”, by Fernando Ortega, performed by Fernando Ortega and Mac Powell. Though a hotel mix-up nixed the opportunity to room with my new friend, Frankie, I chuckled to myself that at least Frankie wouldn’t have to listen to my music on repeat every morning. But the Lord used that alone time each morning to focus my heart on His glory, and prepare me for what He would show me that day. Each morning, this song became the blank canvass on which God would paint a new picture of His faithfulness, His power, and His glory. Beautiful images of the evidence of God’s work and ways now come to mind whenever I hear the song. It is impossible to do justice to God’s revelation of Himself with mere human words, but knowing that it is for His glory that He gave me such treasures, I will attempt to share some of the images evoked by the lyrics of the song, “Our Great God.”

Eternal God, unchanging, mysterious and unknown – Marveling at the diverse team20160601_130127 (2) God assembled for this short term mission, and later seeing, at least in part, His plan unfold as each served in their spiritual gifts and talents. Wondering why in the world God chose me to encourage believers in Kenya. Surely there are others, much more qualified, who don’t live halfway around the world.

Your boundless love, unfailing, in grace and mercy shown – Madame Rebecca, the invaluable overseer of schools and feeding stations, recovering from open heart surgery performed by U.S. surgeons on a medical mission to Kenya. Widows living in a beautiful new home, loved and cared for by the Church.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God! – Overwhelmed, driving into the Seeds Orphanage compound, seeing dormitories, a dining hall, tilapia ponds, laundry drying in the sun, and 215 smiling, singing children. Only God could do this.


IMG_0273 (2)Bright Seraphim in endless flight, around Your glorious throne; They raise their voices day and night in praise to You alone – The songs of the children, rescued from the streets and worse, singing praises to God. The beautiful rhythms of worship in the Kenyan church. Laying the cornerstone of the Seeds High School, every soul present giving all the glory to God.

20160529_161234Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God! – Standing on the foundation of the Seeds High School, listening to Richard share his vision for the high school complex. His faith is enormous. His God is more so.

Lord, we are weak and frail, helpless in the storm – Two women in church, managing life on crutches, their bodies wracked by disease. The faith of an overseer and his wife, challenged and grown by the faith of a ten-year-old son with Sickle Cell Disease.  Deep awareness of my inadequacy to offer anything to the Kenyan people, I am the one being taught.

Surround us with Your angels, hold us in Your arms –  Hundreds of smiling, singing children, safe, fed, clothed, educated, and loved; tireless servants caring for children, widows, and the church and who are upheld by the strength of Your hands – these are the arms of God.

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Our cold and ruthless enemy, his pleasure is our harm – Children’s feet, riddled with holes caused by insect infestations. The story of a girl, horribly abused.

Rise up, Oh Lord, and he will flee before our sovereign God – It is God alone who will rout the enemy, and every last team member knows it. The rest of the girl’s story: rescued, loved, spiritually and emotionally set free.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God! – 150 children seen and treated for jigger infestation, leaving the clinic in shoes and socks. Supplies to care for 150 more left with Richard and Hellen.

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Let every creature in the sea and every flying bird – Waking to bird calls each morning; delight and wonder at seeing cape buffalo, lions, ostriches, jackals, rhinoceros, waterbuck, primates, giraffes, and hippopotamus.

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Let every mountain, every field and valley of the earth – Breathtaking vistas as we drove through the countryside, ravines, fields, acacia trees, Mount Elgon in the distance, all declaring the work and glory of our almighty creator God.

Sing praises to the living God, Who rules them by His Word – Orphaned girls joyfully singing, “I know who I am” because someone loved them and taught them their identity in Christ. Circumstances surrounding the trip and the team, clearly orchestrated by the hand of God. Overwhelming awareness of the presence of God everywhere we went.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God! – An acacia tree, the iconic image of Africa, in silhouette before an incredible gilt-edged sunset – glory, indeed.

acacia sunsetPhoto by Darla McFall

Father, ‘Thank You’ seems woefully insufficient to express my gratitude for the privilege of seeing Your glory revealed on this trip to Kenya. By Your enabling, my desire is to live in the light of the glory I saw in those eleven days, and to express Your glory to others who need to see it. May I be a faithful steward of what You have entrusted to me. Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!