Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mary Kathini; Priestess of Lakeview

It seems as though our Father likes the name Mary. He gives it to the most wonderful of people. There is the Virgin Mary mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene the first to see and hear the resurrected Lord, Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus who is the example of always waiting on the Lord and Mary who washed the Lord’s feet.

I would like to introduce you to another favored woman named Mary; Mary Kathini … Priestess of Lakeview. At present Mary lives in Lakeview which is one of the poorest suburbs in Nakuru Kenya. We met Mary on our second missionary trip to Kenya when God began to extend His Kingdom to the residents of the Nakuru slums. What I remember first about Mary is her quiet demeanor, sweet face and explosive smile. Mary truly loves God. Although Mary is never showy or dramatic about her relationship with Christ, her love of Him can always be felt.

This first series of pictures taken in 2007, reveals the face of a pleasant looking woman with a smile that seems to hide some secret source of happiness. Later we would find that the source of that smile was neither her social situation or financial circumstances; but a deep and abiding hope in the goodness of the Lord.

Mary lives with her 3 of her 5 children in the poorest part of the city of Nakuru. She rents a four foot by seven foot storefront and lives in two small rooms behind the store. Now this might not sound like much, but she is on the high side of life in the slums. Many of her neighbors live in much more dire circumstances. Mary’s “elevated status” is due to the fact of that Mary is a very hard worker and a bit of an entrepreneur. Her little store is supplemented by raising a few chickens, selling charcoal and at times taking in some sewing work.

When Mary started coming to LakeView Village Community Church two and a half years ago, she jumped right into the work of building up God's people. According to the gospel she heard and took to heart she began taking care of those less fortunate than herself. She lives only about 50 yards from the meeting place and is known among her neighbors as one you can go to when you need help. After her baptism Mary began to grow spiritually and it wasn't long before her adversaries began to notice. 

One evening on the way to visit a church members house before I taught that night, we noticed a police truck outside of Mary’s apartment and store. We didn’t think much of it as the police are called to that area often. After the home visit we headed toward the building the little meeting place and noticed the police truck was gone. The teaching went well, but all through the meeting I could tell Mary seemed anxious about something even though her face was glowing. I asked her if she wanted to share anything and she quickly jumped up and said yes. Her incredible story reveals the deep and abiding faith of this wonderful godly woman.

It seems as though Mary was in her room behind the store when she heard someone shout something from her back yard. Before she could get up and check the disturbance, someone began to kick her back door open. The force of the violent kick caused the door to swing into and break her sewing machine. Quickly two massive police men entered the room and demand that Mary come with them to the police station. Upon asking why she was being arrested Mary was told that she was being charged with selling milk without a license. Now Mary didn’t even know you needed a license to sell milk as she had been doing it for some time. None of the other little “kioskes” (little shops) had one. It is more than likely she was “turned in” by a disgruntled local shop keeper who was jealous of Mary’s business. It is relatively easy to bribe the local law enforcement officers to carry out your wishes for a price. Bribery is almost a cultural way of life in Kenya.

The week before this incident the Lord had led me to teach these precious people on the priesthood of the believer.How we were to be priest before being anything else. Mary took it to heart and did what many of seem incapable of doing….she believed it. All that week she meditated on her priesthood.

As the two policemen ushered her to the front door and the gathering crowd, Mary stopped and remembered the teaching from the following week. She was a priest of Christ. As she did she turned to the policemen and said…. “I am a priestess and would like to pray to my God before you take me.” Then dropping to her knees amidst two confounded policemen, she asked her ever watching Father what to do. She told him that she didn’t know that she was doing anything wrong and asked Him not to let the policemen see the milk on the table not two feet away.

Like Christ being confronted by the religious hypocrites of old, Mary continued kneeling and waited on her Father’s reply. Quickly He spoke to her heart. Arising she turned to the policemen and said;... “where is the evidence of my wrong doing?” The policemen looked at each other then looked around the room to find some milk. Neither of them could see the milk sitting on the table right beside them! They replied that there seemed to be no evidence. Mary then told them it is wrong to break into her house, destroy her sewing machine and arrest her falsely, and that she didn't even know it was illegal to sell milk. The policemen again looked at each other and then let go of Mary’s arms. They then turned and sheepishly said; “We are very sorry” … “Please do not complain to our superiors!” Mary looked at them sweetly and replied … “It is OK because my God has put His Spirit of forgiveness in me.”

The policemen quietly left the house and drove away probably wondering who her God was. Mary testified to the church that night that what was being taught was true and could be trusted. Everyone in the room clapped, cheered and praised our Father.  That is how Mary Kathini became known as “Mary Priestess of Lakeview”. Oh…  and the next week Mary got her milk license.

When we started the Micro Financing program called F.I. S. H. (Funding Indigenous Self Help), Mary was among the first to receive a loan. Then as before, her faithfulness and hard work became even more apparent. Receiving on Sunday morning eight thousand shillings (100 dollars and 46 cents American money); Mary was at the market buying supplies Sunday afternoon. We saw her downtown and we stopped and got a picture of her receipt. She carefully spent every penny to increase her business and over the next few months paid every shilling back. This enabled others to partake of the F.I.S.H. program. One hundred percent of what is contributed to the F.I.S.H. program goes into the hands of needy people.

As a result of Mary’s faithfulness over the last few years, miracles have begun to take place in her life. One of the biggest of these wonders is when someone gave Mary a plot of land to build her family a house of her own.

Now you might ask how Mary will afford the materials for a house. Mary never asks those kind of questions. She just starts with what she has and trust that God will provide whatever else she needs….like He has always done. These pictures are Mary taking us out to the house she is building from the materials God has already provided. She and her children are currently making all the bricks for her new house and have planted a small crop of corn. Half the house is already done. She told us that day when we return in six months, she and her children will be living in it.

While visiting the building site, Amma told Mary that we wanted to take tea in her new house as soon as it is finished. Mary said; “no need to wait; let us take tea now!” Then to our delightful surprise she pulled out snacks, cups and a hot thermos of Chi tea. After giving thanks and praising our wonderful Father we had a wonderful love feast in Mary’s new house.

There are other wonderful stories about what God is doing here but this is one of the best. Our hopeful desire is to see other deserving people like Mary help themselves. It is also that others like you and me… get the chance to take care of our brethren. 
   "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them,
'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."  ( Matthew 25:32-40)

May our Father send His Son to find His "green" pastures are full of sheep .... and not goats.

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