By Evan Lowen
As a teenager who enjoys the benefits the United States has to offer, I learned the meaning of “culture shock” when I traveled to Africa with my dad. The sights, smells, and experiences will never leave my mind.
The first full day in Nairobi was difficult to digest. My dad and I, along with Erik Wolle and Steve Stewart from our church, went to the very first school created for the kids in the slums. I met Mary and Wallace, who are the most incredible people I’ve ever known. They direct the Hope centers, which include schools and other ministries. They once had professional jobs, but changed the direction of their lives to spread the gospel and bring hope to kids in the slums.
The Pangani Hope Center now has a five-story building and serves nearly 1,000 kids! After lunch at Pangani, we headed into a slum called Mathare. I knew the slums would be bad, but they contained the worst living conditions I’ve ever seen, even on TV.
The trash and waste in the streets was awful. No matter where I looked, I saw children wearing dirty clothing. Some appeared sick and weak.
People had dug trenches where they dumped sewage and trash. The trenches led to a river, which collected so much debris and sewage we couldn’t escape the stench.
The most worthwhile part of the trip was meeting the kids, who are incredible. They endure many terrible things, yet have such joy. You could tell which ones knew Christ. Their faith was impressive. I also like and admire Keith Ham, the CMF missionary. He’s a fun and dedicated guy.
One of my favorite people in Africa is Easter. He is a youth leader in a slum called Kosovo, where he tries to help kids who face many temptations. After seeing how my Kenyan friends live, I am proud that our church helps provide medicine, clothes, books, and other necessities. It was awesome to see how God’s church is really helping change people’s lives. Visiting Africa changed my perspective in at least three ways:
1. Christ is the best hope of the people of Nairobi.
2. To be an American is a privilege more wonderful than we realize.
3. I’m totally going to name my first kid Easter.