Fatuma* is raising her five children in a one-room metal house among 2.5 million people who dwell in an estimated 200 slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Despite the squalid living conditions, she knows her children have something she never had as a child: love.
In 1950, Sub-Saharan Africa had no cities with populations of more than 1 million. Today, it has over 40. Eleven of the 25 fastest-growing cities in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
After she was orphaned, Fatuma was sent to her aunt and uncle to be raised. They treated her like a servant and kept her home from school to do cleaning chores.
Fatuma’s hunger to learn once resulted in a beating after she leafed through a cousin’s school book.
Recently she and her husband Abdi* were scared when their 14-year-old daughter Aalia* had a bleeding issue that wouldn’t stop.
One day Abdi was out in the neighborhood when foreigners walked up. Before he knew it, Abdi was sharing with total strangers about his daughter’s bleeding. An American man told him a story about Jesus, and Abdi invited them to visit his family.
The next day Fatuma welcomed her husband’s guests into their home. The visitors told a further story about God. They said they weren’t trying to take advantage of Aalia’s illness to convert the family to Christianity.
“We’re here because we are followers of Jesus,” they said.
When they asked if they could pray to Jesus for Aalia’s healing, Fatuma agreed. Within a week, Aalia’s bleeding completely stopped. Fatuma was overjoyed to give the report to an American woman when she visited them again.
Decades after the beating she received for her curiosity, Fatuma’s hands finally closed around a small book of her own – a New Testament in Arabic and Swahili.
This time no one will beat her.
Fatuma opens the pages of her book and ponders what she is learning about Jesus. Something – or Someone – is drawing her, and her American friends will be there for the journey.
Gifts through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support Southern Baptists workers in Nairobi who are taking the hope of Jesus Christ to the people of city’s poorest areas, people such as Fatuma and Abdi.
Learn more about Sub-Saharan African peoples here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the International Mission Board’s communications office. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)