A Wedding and Meeting James

When we arrived in Meto after a five hour drive in from Nairobi, we were just in time for the wedding of Phillip and Naomi. Phillip is Bishop Moses's son. Bishop Moses is the leader of the Charismatic Church locally (CEC), and also Integrity's local representative. He is a wonderful Christian man and has been blessed by the Lord for his obedience. They scheduled the wedding date and time in hopes that we would be there. It was a blend of the traditional Maasai ceremony and the Christian covenant of marriage. 
(all photo cred: Ashley Johnson)
She looked stunning with all of the handmade bead necklaces.
They immediately ushered the whole team to the front seats by the bridesmaids and family. It was a complete honor. I had never met them, and they were showing honor and love to their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

An even more humbling moment is when they served us cake. Their tradition is to cut the cake and then feed not only each other, but people of importance. For example, the wedding party, the church leaders, their parents, and the tribal leaders. They then served us! I knew if this was a glimpse at how the rest of the week and relationships with the people in Meto would develop, I was in for a supernatural blessing. 

They are such colorful people. The first thought I had was, "they are beautiful!". It was not just their physical beauty, but an inner beauty that only comes from knowing Jesus. They have such JOY.

The next day after church (more on that in another post), we toured the small village of Meto. 
Little did I know we were in for the best moment to me of the whole trip. 
We have been sponsoring for the last year, a University of Nairobi student, named James. 
Last year, Integrity held an Impact meeting, asking for sponsorships of students to allow them to continue their education. Some were for primary students, some secondary students, and a handful of University students. We had asked God to show us a specific person to help, and He made it very obvious. James was the first story we read, and not only did it prick our hearts, but his name is the same as my James and he is the exact same age. 
Here is a snippet of his history:
James is one of the brightest and hardworking students in the area. He scored a 440 on the high school exit exam (equivalent to our SATs), the highest in history in the village. To attend school, James would have to work for three years saving to have enough money for one semester of college. Because of the bad drought two years prior, all of his family's animals died, destroying any income he had. Because of this he said, "I almost gave up." He stayed at home to help his family recover. He has 9 brothers and 3 sisters. Only 3 of them are in school. 
We were hoping to meet him, but didn't know when in the trip it would happen as he also teaches at the secondary school to supplement living costs in the city. The first day while we were touring around, he comes up to Alan Jr (who leads the trip, and is accepted as family by the whole village). Alan says "Hello James!" and looks at us with a smile...I knew immediately it was our James. I tried really hard to hold it together as I also knew he didn't know that people were behind the Integrity sponsorships. Alan did a great job of introducing us saying, "James and Rayne in America read your application, and saw your potential and wanted to help"...it then hit him that because of the Lord we were able to help him go to the University. I couldn't hold it in any longer and the tears came. What a sweet moment it was to give him a big hug. I love that Ashley captured it, even though it is a moment I will never forget. He said later he couldn't believe that people would believe in him that much. 

We were able to spend some time with him the next day and really got to know him. He has such vision and wants to change the way his village sees education. He studies sociology and education. I know he will help change their world for the better. He is a believer and gave God the glory in every conversation. It is moments like this you see God at work in a clear way. His plans are much bigger than ours, yet he is in each detail. What a blessing that we get to be apart of it with our relationship with James. 

our friend James


Nancy said...

How cool. Love this post. What an amazing wedding it looks like!

Caroline Bobo said...

Beautiful job describing the wedding and meeting James! Two very special moments we will never forget!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Have always wanted to go on a mission trip like this.

Angie said...

Beautiful, again brought tears to my eyes. You and James are such a wonderful giving and caring couple!! What a difference you both make as friends, in our community and also in the mission field!! Can't wait to read more. xo