Lent Devotion – A Remarkable Day on the Way

Published March 28, 2024 by Craig Kaiser

“As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51

A journey on The Way sounds very linear, organized, and action-oriented. We know why we are here and what we are doing between here and there. I haven’t always found it to be the case for me.

The Kibera slum of Nairobi is a jumble of mud, corrugated metal, and filth tucked in a valley that houses approximately 1 million people in 1.5 square miles. There is no plumbing or legitimate electricity. There are no roads through it, only far too crowded narrow pathways. Unfamiliar acrid odors swirl around and crowd into every breath. Everything seems to ooze to the bottom of the valley. There are no dreams in Kibera.

On the day I was there, my small group was instructed to walk single file, quickly but not fast, and don’t let eyes linger too long on anyone. We ducked into a small doorway of a dank mud hut, lit by faint daylight peeking through a small window. Across from us sat fourteen tired, frail women, the women of St. Martha’s, a ministry for widows with AIDS whose lives tumbled all the way to this lowest place.  

We sat and listened as each one-by-one told their stories of death of husband and children, resulting in their expulsion by their community. Once they’ve slid to Kibera, they are at constant risk. These women have no agency in life and no purpose, it seemed. Yet even as each set a scene of enduring unspeakable misfortune, not one stopped there. Every story described a life of gratitude for redemption, a life of purpose rediscovered, and a loving God who delivered them to the community of St. Martha’s. The juxtaposition of situation and words was massive. It was not a life they had any hope of escaping, and yet God has provided purpose for them there.  

That was a day of some danger, uncertainty, and insecurity for me. I was far from the path I have cultivated half a world away. It opened my eyes as it raised real questions. With time, it has informed my understanding of the power of community and God’s provision for us, and it better defined what The Way means. I went into the day thinking this was a day of service to the lowest of the low and came out realizing it was a day for me to learn more fully what we are doing here.

Often, I get caught up in thinking it is all about good and purposeful actions on The Way.  Sometimes, like this day, The Way was about a willingness to step out of the routine of life, following with an open mind where God leads, and listening. Those days can impact the way we live and the actions we take for the rest of our lives.