Crisp fall air.
Hike to the waterfalls.
Breathtaking mountain views.
Freshly squeezed apple cider.
Later, s'mores around the campfire and "Amazing Grace" on the guitar.
Wonderful stories of God's love, of His grace, of His plans for each and every one of us.
This was our mini-advocate retreat this weekend near Asheville, North Carolina.
Sitting by a campfire with a man from the Kibera slums in Kenya would have been just a dream last year. Showing him how to play a few chords on the guitar, watching him eat his first smore, hearing his wonderful, rich Swahili accent relate his story of deliverance...
This man is Godfrey Miheso. After expressing an interest in learning guitar, I asked Godfrey if he thought his wife would be impressed, this was his reply...
"She knows me. I am a simple man."
And how true his words were. Not said with pride at all. Godfrey Miheso is a humble man, a man fully aware that God alone has plotted the course for his life.
A life that started with four siblings in Africa's second largest slum...Kibera.
Where, at the age of six, he had one pair of holey green shorts and had never put on a pair of shoes.
Nights spent, three of the children sleeping on a single piece of cardboard.
Education consisting what mom could teach.
Sitting on the patio, Godfrey related the most beautiful story of compassion I have ever heard. Godfrey calls it his "Genesis," the point where his life truly began.
Godfrey's father worked as a gardener at the hospital, trying to support his family. One day, while working, he observed two men struggling towards the emergency room. One man was helping the other, but even so, it was a difficult trip. Moved with compassion, Godfrey's father left his tools and ran to help the men to the hospital. He stayed with the men and talked for a long while.
Before long, the man who had been struggling to carry the injured man to the hospital asked Godfry's father, "Why is it that you left your tools to come help me."
Godfry's father replied, "For many years, my parents hosted missionaries. I know what it means to lend a helping hand."
The man continued to make inquiries. He asked about the father's family. It was then that a startling revelation came.
The man introduced himself as the Pastor of the Kibera Church of God, the church which housed Compassion International's child development center. He told Godfrey's father that they would acceot one of his four children into the project.
Godfrey's father was distraught, "How can I choose? How can I place Wycliffe over Godfrey, or Susan over Nesbitt? You must choose."
So the project director took the names and prayed.
Two weeks later, the father came to Godfery and said, "Godfrey, on Saturday, we will take a walk together."
6 year-old Godfrey was overwhelmed with excitement. It was not often that he was able to go anywhere with his father, who was usually busy trying to feed his children. Godfrey said it was the longest week of his life.
Saturday came, and little barefoot Godfrey trotted along behind his father through the maze of Kibera, avoiding the open drainage.
It was a three hour journey to travel just one mile as they searched the slum for Kibera church of God.
Finally, standing before the large gates, Godfrey was exhausted and hungry. A man came to the gate with a long list of names.
"You are late," he said. "Come in."
Godfrey said that when the gates opened, he forgot being tired and hungry. "It was as if a light slapped me in the face! There were children running and playing with a real soccer ball, in matching blue uniforms. I felt peace, safety, and love in that place. They took me to stand against a wall to have my picture made. I still had no shoes, but a woman let me wear her son's shoes for the photo."
Godfrey's father went home from the project carrying a mattress on his back. Soon, Godfrey received school supplies, clothing, and a Bible. He would be able to go to school, something that none in the family had been able to do.
"I felt so lucky," he said. "In our classrooms of fifty students, only 2 people had textbooks. It was the teacher, and Godfrey. I would hurry to complete my homework so that I could share my book. I would break my pencils so that my friends would have something to use."
Godfrey now has a beautiful, fruitful life. And it is all the result of one act of kindness, one act of obedience, one act of compassion by his father. His father was the Good Samaritan, carrying the wounded, offering hope.
Godfrey's sponsor was a Good Samaritan to him. When he was without hope, stranded, beaten down by poverty, God reached down through the ministry of Compassion with bright hope.
Isn't it amazing how just one act can change everything? One act can save a life. One act can save many lives.
Will you save a life today? I encourage you to sponsor a child like Godfrey through Compassion today. Click the link on the side of my blog or message me. One little act can mean EVERYTHING to someone.
This is Genesis. She could be the beginning of a long, beautiful story for you...
A story of love, of grace...