How Suncreek UMC’s ZOE Empowers Partnership Is Transforming Lives
The lives of young people are forever changed, while also altering the hearts of those who pray for them a continent away
Partnering with ZOE Empowers has been one of the greatest blessings in the life of Suncreek United Methodist Church. It has radically changed the way we view our missions and outreach ministries. We altered or discontinued long-term ministries of our church based on ZOE’s inspiring model. It has transformed the lives of hundreds of young people we have been blessed to support during the past 11 years through our sponsorship of several empowerment groups. It has transformed the lives of the Suncreek mission team members who have traveled to Kenya to visit our groups and give them love and encouragement through the years. It has inspired our congregation who hear the stories of the young people who go from “beggars to boss” in three years.
The transformation in the team members has come in many forms … including the response of one lady, Marjorie, whose husband remarked on her return from her first trip from Kenya: “What have you done with my wife?” He went on to explain that she was a changed woman. She was not a woman prone to cry, but, after seeing the transforming power of ZOE, that all changed. Her heart was forever changed.
Another woman, Denise, had an instant connection with a chairperson of one of our empowerment groups. His name is Eric. The bond was electric to watch between the two of them. After a short visit where Denise was sharing about her three sons, Eric asked her if she would please tell her sons about her new son in Kenya. She shared a picture of her and Eric with her children at Christmas, and her daughter-in-law immediately got up from around the Christmas tree, found a frame and placed the picture on the bookshelf with all the family photos. That is the power of love and connection.
Stories of grace, love, forgiveness, redemption, success and empowerment abound through ZOE Empowers. Our groups never cease to amaze us with their ability to overcome obstacles and adversity and to love those who had once turned their backs on them because they were orphaned. During our most-recent visit in September, one of our groups – the “Light” Kimanchia Empowerment group – shared how it strives to be the light of Christ in its community. Members gather as a group two to three times a month and visit the elderly in their village. They gather water, food and firewood for them. They then visit with them, pray with them and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Two years ago, the members of the group had never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. The next year after they were presented with their Bibles through the ZOE Empowerment ministry, they shared with the Suncreek mission team that Jesus is their best friend and the Bible is the most-prized possession in their home. It is more valuable to them, they shared, than any food or water could ever be. That is the power of Christ’s love and redemption.
Reegan Kaberia, chief program officer and Kenya country manager for ZOE Empowers, was asked “What would you like for us to remember when we go home?” during our recent mission trip to Kenya. He replied, “Please try to remember each day how convenient your life is compared to others around the world.” Powerful words to remember each day as we strive to live out Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors and care for those in need.
At Suncreek United Methodist Church, we work to encourage daily prayers for our empowerment group members as they face a life that is filled with challenges that we will never fully understand. ZOE Empowerment enriches the lives of the young people whose lives are forever changed and transformed while also transforming the hearts of those who love and pray for them thousands of miles and a continent away.
Janet Hunt is the director of local and global missions at Suncreek UMC.
Published: Monday, October 14, 2019