WACO—Everywhere Wes Yeary looks, there are needs stacked upon needs — an endless supply of people and places in Kenya that need something.
“It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you see all the need,” said Yeary, the Baylor athletics chaplain who will lead a 45-person Baylor sports ministry team that’s leaving Sunday for a two-week mission trip back to Nairobi, Kenya.
“And you can’t meet all of it. We can take equipment and supplies, but the reality of it is we could never take enough.”
Yeary said it “resonated so deeply with me” when he was reading the book Kisses From Katie, the story of a young woman from Brentwood, Tenn., who moves to Uganda when she’s 19 and has adopted 14 children and established a school that is feeding and educating thousands of children. Katie Davis writes in the book that there are times when she feels she is “trying to empty the ocean with an eye-dropper.”
That’s exactly the feeling that hits Yeary when he steps on the soil in Kenya. But the Baylor group, making its fourth pilgrimage to Kenya, will work alongside local ministers like Walter Machio and Boniface Mwalimu and try to “make a difference one at a time.”
“The beauty of teaming up with people there is that we’re not coming in to rescue or save the day,” Yeary said.
“We’re really there just to help them. … One of the focuses we take and I continue to emphasize with our students is just that I can make a difference one at a time, in one life, in one place, in this one day. Who is that God is bringing to me today to minister to, encourage and serve? If I’ll be faithful in that each day, he will meet needs along the way and provide for us and for them in that.”
Leaving from the Baylor campus Sunday, the group will take a 14 ½-hour flight from Dallas to Dubai and then a five-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya, arriving Monday night at the Gracia Guest House.
The first work day begins with trips to the Tumaini Children’s Home and Kizito Children’s Care. They will also work with Mwalimu in ministering to the street children who are addicted to glue; visit the Mukuru slums, where they rebuilt a house last year; and minister in the Nairobi West Men’s Prison and Lang’ata Women’s Prison.
“It’s been exciting to return and see the growth of the ministries that we’ve helped and continue to build on that,” Yeary said. “That first year that we went to the prisons, it’s amazing to see how God opened that door in the first place. It planted a seed of sorts where Walter and Dennis, our partners, were given an open door to carry on some things. And then last year, because of what had happened, they opened doors to the women’s prison that’s now developed into a weekly ministry.”
In the Mukuru slums that were devastated last year by fires, the group will see how a foundation “our students started as they began to sponsor kids that they got to know” is helping the children there get through high school.
“The slums began with just a clinic a year ago and has now moved into the mentoring,” Yeary said. “Last year, we rebuilt the home for the family in the slums, and it continued a tutoring area. The mentoring and training of coaches that have come from all of that, and now this foundation will help see these boys all the way through high school.”
The Tumaini Children’s Home was one of the additions to this trip. At a hospital/orphanage for babies and children infected with and affected by HIV Aids, the group will spend half of a day just holding babies.
“They talk about the child development – and I don’t know all that side of it – but the importance of being held,” Yeary said. “And I just thought with the group that we have, not only will it help (the orphanage), but what a perspective that could give to us of children that literally are born into situations that seem hopeless, where there’s not much promise of many of the things that we have as a child when we come into this world.”
That goes back to the idea of missions being “people being transformed by people being transformed.”
“To me, that’s part of our whole mission is to go give and serve,” Yeary said, “but also to open the eyes of our students to the harsh realities of situations around the world and the needs that we can often help with if we’re aware of those. We can read statistics, but it’s another thing when you have a child in your arms or when you know their name. It stirs the heart in a little different way.”
While this year’s group includes 34 first-timers, Yeary said several of the student-athletes who went on the first three trips “have called back and want to be a part and to give toward that,” Yeary said. “That means so much that because it impacted them so much, they want to give back to it as well.”
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