That’s a nice picture, isn’t it? It was taken after Elisha, Kelvin and I finished the Lukenya Trail Run. Here, we are all smiling. But don’t be fooled by the smiles. They hide a lot. There is no single half marathon or biking event I have been through and smiled all the way to the finishing line. I wish that would happen.
Take this particular run, for instance.
Much as Elisha finished second overall. It was a run that took everything from him. Of course, that is what coming on top does to you. While posing for photos, I didn’t know he had hurt and lost his toenail in the process. It was much later on that I saw the photos that Jared Junior had taken that I discovered the pain Elisha had gone through to win a silver medal.
Though Kelvin didn’t lose a toenail, he ended up running in the wrong direction for almost a kilometre. Despite this, he managed to finish in the top 10. Both of these wonderful young men were joining me for the first time. Kelvin had taken part in various marathons while Elisha was taking part for the first time. Having them join me was a huge blessing because I was no longer alone. I had a team. The walking on a rotten bridge post is inspired by an incident that happened during one of our sessions.
We finally made it to the juvenile prison facility after an hour of driving through the rain and traffic. After checking in and meeting one of the welfare officers, Elisha and I walked towards the hall where we hold our Friday weekly sessions. The strap of my heavy backpack was chewing into my fleshy chest and bony shoulder blades. I was feeling thirsty and worn out.
Walking on a rotten bridge
Because we don’t work with the same prison warders every week, we usually have to keep introducing ourselves. Having done the usual introductions, Elisha and I met the 100 plus boys. It was a mass of hopelessness, gloom and despair. None of the boys was enthusiastic to see us. None was willing to participate in the session that day.
I reflected on our journey to prison and we had to go through and felt like breaking down. I debated about whether or not I should simply give up and walk away from a vision that was costing way too much. Memories of our recent runs came to my mind and I wished the boys would have known what happens for us to keep coming back. Elisha must have sensed my despair.
“Sir,” he said, “don’t worry. This is just a temporary set back.”
“Thanks for being here,” I replied. “But I can’t just take it anymore!”
“We’re walking on a rotten bridge,” he continued.
“What do you mean by walking on a rotten bridge?” I asked.
“I know what you go through to come here,” he said. “But they don’t have the privilege of what it means to do this kind of work.”
“True,” I replied. “It is times such as these that I usually think about the pain and suffering I always take my body through during half marathons and biking events. I don’t like what I am seeing. It is like our sacrifice, pain and work doesn’t matter to these boys.”
“I am also here to hold your hand as we continue walking on this rotten bridge,” he reassured me.
A see-saw of emotions
I love working with boys in juvenile prison. However, there are things that those who look from the outside won’t understand. Personally, I don’t understand much of it either. I have tried to make sense of everything, and failed. Terribly. Which hurts and confuses me most of the time.
I keep finding myself asking questions that seldom get a direct answer. I have questioned God on several occasions and wanted Him to speak to me directly. There are things I am yet to come to grasps with such as lack of enough resources. I also keep wondering if I have lost my mind by continuing this kind of work. Fortunately, God keeps reassuring me that I am on the right track and should simply continue trusting and believing.
This past week I got such a revelation about God’s care. We had the honor of attending a dinner hosted by Christian lawyers (CLEAR). This wouldn’t have happened had Vickie Wambura not invited me. It was the first time we were meeting after I had written an article for Nafisika Trust. The meeting was a proof that only God can grow Lifesong Kenya by bringing the right partners.
Follow this link to learn about Nafisika Trust.
As for walking on a rotten bridge, well, it is a bridge worth walking on. This is my conviction as we prepare for tomorrow’s session at the juvenile prison. I am looking forward to meeting the boys and showing them the medal I received during the Kericho Triathlon Series. Even if the going continues to get tough, our hope will remain fixed on God. God will surely continue making things clearer as we keep learning how to effectively empower our boys.
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
– Matthew 25:36