From Geoffrey to you; The first chapter

I never really wrote stuff for other people to read before this trip… its new and is completely out of my comfort zone. I would love to write a book about this experience and what I have learned, I have done some writing for the book, but this is the first thing that has been edited (thank you dad). No idea if this is going to turn into an actual book, but it is a start. I hope you enjoy it.


Have you ever lost something of great worth? Has there ever been a time in your life when something of such great value to you, monetary or sentimental, has abruptly been taken from you and drove you to ravage your home and possessions intently searching for it? Have you ever lost the thing that is the essence of your being? Have you ever lost the will to keep on keeping on?
The very core of my existence has faded away. I have lost my heart and am earnestly and tenaciously digging through the overwhelming and pointless stacks of paper and the unending piles of dirty laundry of my life in what seems like a futile attempt to regain what I have lost. I want my heart back. The Lord had given me a heart for what breaks his; He blessed me with this benevolent and compassionate consuming passion for Him and His children. As I laid eyes upon the oppressed and the suffering my heart was broken, torn and despoiled. I felt somewhat like King David, seeking after God, knowing the paths that God had set before me and all the time seeking further ways to serve Him and others. I served others not by force or out of fear of being struck down, but because I sincerely loved God and sincerely loved them. I had what 1 Peter refers to as “inexpressible and glorious joy” flowing through my veins and now, this tough and well-calloused exterior of my heart has caused me to trade in the great for the mediocre; I grew content and cold. I am on a mission to find that all-consuming and ever-present passion for God once again. I am stepping out of the spotlight and rummaging through life in a desperate attempt to learn what it means to have a servant’s heart, to unselfishly and relentlessly love others the way that God intended for us to, not the way that the condemning, judgmental and overzealous try to force us to believe.
What do you do when you find that you have lost your heart? When the drive to press on is lost. When the purpose in waking up each morning has slipped away through your fingertips. What do you do when the reason you continue to fight is slipping away and grows fainter and dimmer each day while, as you stand upon the foundation on which you have firmly planted yourself, you are overwhelmed by life and find that you have lost your footing? I was going through the motions of life perfectly, but missing the heart of why I do what I do; I had the methods down but was missing the principle.
At age 21, I decided to move to Kenya for six months to work with AIDS orphans, serving as a youth pastor, offering my body as God’s instrument to be used as he pleases. I am doing this in an attempt to find that thing of greater worth than gold, my heart, and to not only find it but to learn how to develop it into the servant’s heart that my soul desperately longs for.


When I moved to Kenya, I spent the first two months living in a compound with the pastor of a small church. There were about twenty children and adults living in the different apartments. It didn’t take long for me to become friends with all of the children and their parents, soon the children seemed to love running in and out of our house. Most of these children had either never seen a white person before or had seen very few and as the fear of my skin wore off within the first few days, they began to gravitate around me and became my entourage of five year olds. I couldn’t leave or enter my house without an friendly ambush of kids yelling “Geoffrey” or “Mzungu,” which means white person. I imagined that I had met all of the residents within the first few days, but I was mistaken; I had yet to meet Stacy, my immediate neighbor.
The beautiful child I speak of has the same playful and bubbly personality that any other four year old would have. The only difference between her and others is her physical limitations; Stacy is crippled. Complications during her delivery resulted in her being deprived of oxygen during the birth, which damaged her brain. But contracting malaria at six months is more of the cause of her challenged state in which I found her, lacking the ability to speak, walk or freely move her body. Many would argue that through modern technology and advances in the medical field Stacy should still be able to live a great life. Having physically limited friends, I too believed the same thing. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that being a crippled child in a third-world country is completely different from being disabled in America.
From my understanding, there is a negative connotation to being crippled in this place. With a disabled child comes the disassociation of friends that refuse to accept the situation. I have heard cases of mothers who have kept their child in the most secluded room in their home in an attempt to keep this disgrace a secret. With unemployment sky high and a catastrophic drought in these parts, purchasing expensive medical devices is very difficult for families like Stacy’s. Just like in America, some fathers leave because they are disgusted with the condition of their child. Schools for the handicapped and physically challenged, though they exist, aren’t as prevalent as regular schools. Medicines, surgeries, and medical devices are unaffordable, so giving birth to a physically challenged child has immense obstacles.
With the exorbitant prices of wheelchairs and with the majority of this country living on less than one dollar per day, Stacey’s family only has a small handcrafted blue chair, which they often keep inside the home, in which she spends the entirety of her day, which was why it had taken me so long to meet her. If she is able to come outside for the day, she spends it within a few feet of her home. She isn’t able to venture past the surrounding fence and gate that also acts as a barrier against what lies beyond her home and robs her eyes of gazing into the unknown. Stacy has been blessed with both a loving father and mother, but the difficulties and complications when transporting Stacy are immense, which is why this girl is somewhat imprisoned and confined within the walls of her home, a few feet within the door.
Stacy is not able to ask for things, nor can she pick up things on her own, and she isn’t able to vocalize her needs or desires for even the simplest of things. As we tried to communicate with her during our first meeting, I couldn’t help but notice that flies were relentlessly landing on her face. These flies were crawling up her nose and around the rim of her eyes. Without the ability to even swipe them away, she was both defenseless and helpless. What is life like for someone like this? I can’t even begin to imagine the struggles of everyday life that she and her family face. The frustrations of having dreams, hopes, ideas, wants and desires but never being able to vocalize them. Having an entire world to see and yet not being able to go more than ten feet from home.
Maybe Stacy is alive and has been blessed with air in her lungs, but how much life is the child truly experiencing or living in comparison to the potential life she could live? She doesn’t have friends, doesn’t have a social life, can’t run, yell and scream with the other young children. She just spends every moment of every day confined within the arm rests of this small blue chair. With the long hours her mother and father work, the heavy work load the house help carries and her brother being in school, Stacy spends most of her time alone. The fact of the matter is that when I look at this situation, when I see how she is missing something, I realize that I too am missing something.


When I look at Stacy I see myself. I am living life, I am serving God, I am giving my time, resources, talents and abilities but I am not truly living life and not truly serving God. There is this hole in my heart; this void if you will and I find that something is missing. I may have the right actions, but without the right heart I have nothing. Maybe Stacy has life, but the lack of finances and resources has deprived her of the possibility of the fulfilling life she could have. She and I are both in a place where we are missing something.
She may be content, as was I, but there comes a time when you desire more, when your heart and soul long for something beyond contentment. There comes a time in your life when going through the motions, putting on a front and turning your wheels will no longer appease your spiritual appetite. A time arises when you no longer want mediocre, you no longer want to settle for less. You want the greatness that God is offering, instead of the mundane that you have been using in some futile attempt to feed this spiritual hunger.
Through the benevolent giving of a few individuals, she is going to get a wheelchair that will give her the ability to go to school. No longer will she have mediocre or the sloppy seconds of life, the air in her lungs and the life in her body will no longer be restricted, held back or imprisoned. She is free. No longer will she be forced to sit and rot away each day, now that her mind and body are free to explore beyond the once-confining fence. For her, life will truly be lived.
I feel as though God has heard my prayers and has opened my eyes and transformed me through this journey so far. No longer am I satisfied with going through the motions of my faith or giving my time, resources or money but hoarding my heart. I had this craving for a renewal of faith and passion, a craving that God appeased 8,000 miles from home. The months spent here have removed the heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh, but in order for me to be transformed I needed to come to the realization that I was in desperate need of a heart transplant.


One day I went to a place of prayer and fasting. It was a commune of sorts. Pastors, reverends, priests, church elders and church members came to this place for days upon days at a time to draw near to God. Brick walls surrounded aged and tattered buildings. A few buildings were dedicated just for prayer. Others were for small groups of people to gather and fellowship. Grassy areas surrounded by trees, flowers and Kenya’s beautiful wildlife were numerous, and many could be found laying in the grass, doused in the shadow of the trees, praying and crying out to God. I found a small chapel to spend the next few hours.
Above me a cold front of air had collided with a warm front and created a blissful breeze, which cascaded downward and rushed into this small building. With my back against the wall, just beneath a broken window, this gift from God came ruffled through my hair. Mold scaled the walls of this deteriorating building. Broken glass and rusted metal fashioned the windows. A simple wooden pew is where I rooted myself for the next few hours and that simplicity is that I needed. With a deafening silence soothing my soul and a gentle breeze caressing me, I sought out God. I Prayed. Rested. Read my bible. Asked God “why,” and “how.” I reflected upon my day and all that I had seen in the two weeks since I had left home. I wadded into my memory pool and dove after both the life altering acts of benevolence and the gut wrenching hurts, pains, and anguishes I had witnessed.. The captivating smiles of small children with joy-filled-hearts. The starvation. The hospitality and generosity. The malnutrition. The perseverance. The faces of the oppressed.
As I reflected on my days of walking the streets of Masii, I couldn’t help but think about the values, morals and the culture of this place. Men well aged working extreme hours for less than a dollar per day. Some of these men spend their existence pushing and pulling carts, loaded with hundreds of liters of water, and refilling the water basins of the community. I remembered their torn clothing, their broken spirits, the negligible skin and bone that makes up their bodies, and the pain in their eyes as they take no notice of what their muscles are telling them and push their feeble bodies to their limit. I am still in awe and admiration of their work ethic, of their ability and willingness to wake up each and every morning only to return to this backbreaking labor. The hours are long, the harvest they reap is small, the pain is immense but their willingness to live out each day and give their best is robust, much more than mine has ever been.
I have seen such small children waking up well before the sun rises to walk the immense distance from their home on the outskirts of the city to school because they realize that having an education isn’t a right, but a privilege, and without it they are ill-fated to face a future of many struggles, poverty, suffering and possible starvation. I have seen children who carrying five-gallon containers of water to the homes of the people of Masii, giving this job everything they have just to make a few pennies to contribute to the basic needs of their families.
As I dived further into my memory bank, I reflected upon many things: the work and labor required to bathe, the hours needed to prepare a meal and wash dishes, the lack of basic sanitation in some places. I remember what their vegetables look like because of this drought, the lack of water left them shriveled and a fourth of the size of what we feast on in our country.
Images of elderly women carrying bags weighing more than they do as they walk great distances to their homes flashed through my mind along with the diseases that are immensely prevalent. My mind goes down the lists of the names of friends I have that are dying of AIDS. I recalled the mothers who prostitute their bodies, in an attempt to put food into their malnourished child’s body, because their husbands left them to fend for themselves. I realized how much I truly take for granted, how rich I am, and I now realize the selfish ambition that constantly plays a role in my life.
My heart has been calloused by the world that we live in. I have been submerged in a culture that promotes greed, selfish ambition, pride, glory, and the furthering of oneself instead of mutual edification. I feel as though I have grown all too familiar with our lifestyle and have not only submitted myself to it but also actually embraced it. I have a cavity where my heart used to be and I have grown accustomed to the ways in which our society act and I have, regrettably, conformed to our American culture and the way of thinking. My heart has grown numb to those things that break the heart of God. The images of children dressed in rags and starving have lost their sting. As I pass the homeless on the side of the road my heart has begun to neglect and I simply keep on driving. I have become so infatuated with myself and my kingdom that I have forgotten about God’s kingdom. I became skilled at going through the motions but horrible at having the heart. For years, I thought of how I “lived above reproach,” only to come to the realization within a shabby, mildew infested, broken building how greedy and self absorbent I truly am.
I’ve looked at the simple life these people embrace and have become conscious of how complicated I have made it and how much focus I have put on my kingdom and myself. What good is it if I spend my life attaining wealth and material goods, being promoted, being the center of attention and yet losing my soul! I once had a beating heart that loved and cared for others, now I feel like all I have is emptiness. Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you: I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” My prayer and aspiration is that God will use each and every minute of this undertaking to remove from me this hard, cold stone of a heart and give me a heart of flesh. My prayer is that those things that break his heart will break mine. I pray that as my heart has become calloused and hard it will become flesh, vulnerable, sensitive, hurting and in pain for what pains God’s heart. I don’t want to live a life for myself anymore. I want the spotlight off of myself and place it on God. Let me seek out God’s kingdom, not mine. Let me ask myself what I can do for God, instead of what can I do for myself.
I don’t claim to be anything great, because I’m not. I haven’t written this book to attain fame and wealth. My eyes have been opened to my complacent way of living and I realize that I have been missing something. I realize that my heart had grown numb, cold, calloused and had turned to stone. I used to be on the right track and had the heart seeking and truly following God, but at some point I veered off the road of life and began going through the motions, turning my wheels and yet going nowhere.
This book is filled with the seemingly incessant ramblings of one poor wandering beggar. I have ventured on a journey to change my life and to retrieve what I had lost, my heart. I realize I am not alone in having lost my way and heart. I pray and hope that the words that God writes through these hands will encourage you and act as a catalyst to rekindle that passionate and yet all-consuming flame in your life as God has done for me.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 12:08 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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