- Our big God adventure: Episode 1 — God saves us and delivers me from racism
- Our big God adventure: Episode 2 — God sends three angels
- Our big God adventure: Episode 3 — A ‘scary’ woman takes off her shoes
- Our big God adventure: Episode 4 — Countdown to Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 5 – Finally setting out for Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 6 – Water from Heaven
- Our big God adventure: Episode 7 – Reaching the unreached
- Our big God adventure: Episode 8 – A ministry and a child are born
- Our big God adventure: Episode 9 – How our small playgroup became one of the largest ACE schools in Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 10 –Election violence, cookies and a poem
- Our big God adventure: Episode 11 — How God used an attack on our lives to soften hearts
- Our Big God Adventure: Episode 12 — From the deep hole of depression to the ‘one set of footprints’
- Our big God Adventure: episode 13 – The blessing of the boy under the bush
- Our big God adventure: episode 14 — Six homeless boys bring Isaiah 58:7 to life!
- Our big God adventure: episode 15 – God rescues a little Samburu girl from certain death
- Our big God adventure: episode 16 – “… and you will dream dreams and see visions (part 1)
- Our big God adventure: episode 17 – “… and you will dream dreams and see visions (part 2)
- Our big God adventure: episode 18 — God ‘interrupts’ our lives to plant school in remote village
- Our big God adventure: episode 19 — Two cakes, a dog and a birthday party
- Our big God adventure: episode 20 — Another story of Butch, our loyal protector — and beloved rascal
- Our big God adventure: episode 21 — A stolen car and God’s miraculous intervention
Missionary in Kenya Lydia Venter remembers the challenges of arranging a particular birthday party — as well as the great blessing that came out of the celebration
The year was 2012 and the month was September. Since May of that year we’d been living with 11 kids under our roof, of which only five were ours, with the others rescued from the streets of Nakuru.
The street kids had been stealing our food because, remember, the streets had taught them that if they didn’t eat all the food available, they might not get another meal. They’d also been stealing the gardener’s glue which he used for fixing shoes as a side-line — because, remember, they had used glue on the streets to numb hunger and memories of abuse and neglect.
So by that September we had been on quite an interesting journey.
Three of the street boys couldn’t read or write, so we had been working hard to teach them basic reading and writing skills as well as general life skills, while assuring them that they were safe and that their lives mattered to us and to the Lord. Occasionally one or two of them would run back to the street, just to arrive back a couple of hours/days later –sometimes thin and dirty — but always sorry and heartbroken, as they slowly came to understand God’s love and the benefits of family.
During that time, we lived on a one-acre plot with another Kenyan family. We had a kitchen garden and 41 animals of which Butch, a Ridgeback cross-breed, just so happened to be part of today’s story.
It was mostly hectic in our home, and many times on the verge of utter chaos, and so I often forgot in the mornings to even comb my hair. The only place where I could “come aside” to fellowship with the Father alone, was literally in the toilet (and even then Teday, our youngest, and Amina, our Dachshund, were waiting for me at the door). I often told people who asked me what I did, that I had a toilet ministry as that was where I often pondered upon stuff and got fresh ideas, LOL.
One day I felt the Lord was saying that we should have a birthday bash for the new boys. Back in the day birthdays were not really celebrated in Kenya – even in healthy set-ups – and getting someone who didn’t know their date of birth used to be common. We loved celebrating staff and friends’ birthdays and — more often than not — they would tell us that that was the first ever for them. Of course, the boys had no idea of the month they were born in and so it made perfect sense to have a community birthday party.
Our American friend, Beverley, ran a small children’s home and I decided to collaborate with her to bring five boys of JWHS who were also former street kids, to celebrate with us. On Friday September 14 I decided to bake the cake ahead of the party which was scheduled for 3pm on Sunday as we had a full weekend.
I saw on online photo of a rainbow cake with several layers in different colours, and there and then I decided that it would be the perfect birthday cake for the boys. It came out beautifully! I left it in the living room area to cool down. We had several small dogs in the house, but Butch, our big baby, was not really allowed inside. However, the smell of this masterpiece must have been too much for him to resist, because we literally caught him red-handed eating the last few crumbs of the cake.
Although I was horribly mad, we had to laugh about it later, because just a year and a half earlier, he had stolen Teday’s third birthday cake from the kitchen counter, forcing me to bake another one.
I had no option than to re-do the entire baking exercise for the Sunday party, but with one major difference and that was to cool the cake safely inside a cupboard.
There was such an atmosphere of excitement at the compound that weekend, and by Sunday afternoon the boys were literally bursting with pride and anticipation. In retrospect I think just the idea that the entire ceremony was organised especially for them, caused major mind and spiritual shifts and caused them to see themselves differently from that day forward.
Apart from the wonderful cake, snacks and drinks, we also had loads of songs, speeches, performances and of course prayers. The highlight of the day for me was when I had the privilege to share with them how heaven rejoiced when each one of them was physically born and how they should never forget that there was a wonderful purpose for their lives. By that time several of the boys had already committed their lives to Christ and so I emphasised that their lives had been celebrated not only by us, but by our Heavenly Host, Jesus Christ, on more than one occasion.
Today – in 2022 – we can look back and see how far Abba has brought each one of these precious boys. We’re looking forward to a small reunion with them in a couple of weeks from now. Most of them are now grow men. It’s only Joseph who eventually went back to the streets and who we lost touch with, but we recently got word from someone as to where we should go and look for him. The rest of the former street boys are doing fairly well and their lives have changed for the better forever. All glory and honour to a Loving God Who the Bible says in Psalm 68:5 is indeed a Father to the fatherless.
And Butch? Well, next time I will share on a few more of the escapades we had with him.
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