In September 2009, I was privileged to visit Tearfund partner, the Diocese of Kericho in Kenya. One of the communities we visited, was Entiak, near Narok, where we met a Maasai couple called Mary and Joseph.
When Joseph introduced himself to us, he said, Before the church came here, I was a bad man and a drunkard. Then I met Jesus. As a result of meeting Jesus and giving his life to Him, Joseph and his family have been transformed.
As a Maasai girl, Mary wasnt educated. However, as a result of the Church and Community Mobilisation programme that the local church has been doing, through Tearfund, with the community, Mary now has 17 certificates to her name.
Church and Community Mobilisation (CCM) is a process where the local church first looks at her biblical mandate to love ones neighbour and to use the resources around you. Once the church has gone through this process, they engage the local community and together they identify the needs of their own community and do their own development. Lives are transformed, not only materially, but spiritually and without the spiritual transformation, people are no better off than they were before.
If Joseph had not met Jesus, he would still be a bad man and a drunkard and Mary and his family would be no better off than before. However, as a result of Joseph becoming a follower of Jesus, his whole family has been transformed.
Mary has taught Joseph to read and write. She now teaches at the primary school, which the community built and she has seen one of her first students go to university. This student is a girl. Mary has taught every woman in her community to grow their own kitchen garden, so each household now has access to fresh fruit and vegetables, that they didnt have before. Joseph was the first man in his community to say that he wasnt going to circumcise his daughters. Mary has her own mobile phone charging business, which she does with a car battery and solar energy. Almost every household in their community now has either a well or a rain water collection tank, so that each family has access to clean water.
The number of achievements in this community goes on and on. When the local church takes her biblical mandate to love one another seriously, the miraculous happens. The changes that have occurred in Mary and Josephs community over the past 10 years have been miraculous. The community acknowledge that so much of what they have achieved was not humanly possible, but that God has made it possible.
This Christmas, as we remember the birth of the Christ child and the story of a different Mary and Joseph more than 2000 years ago, let us also remember the difference that Christ makes not only in our own lives, but in the lives of people living in poverty around the world."
By Janet May, Tearfund Church Relationship Manager