First Impressions of Interchristian Fellowships’ Evangelical Mission (IcFEM)

As we arrive in Kitale after our short, connecting flight, I am immediately struck by the contrast that is so obvious between Kenya and England. It is like travelling back in time.

We meet Ann (one of the directors of IcFEM) and start driving along the pot-holey road that will take us from here to Kimilili, where IcFEM’s Headquarters are based, giving us a chance to take in our surroundings. Donkeys trundle along carrying heavy loads, oxen wearily plod whilst towing a cart behind them, and children as young as three laugh by the roadside, perhaps balancing water on their heads, stopping to look up as the car whizzes past.

They were more than welcoming; visitors were encouraged to 'get stuck in' to the life of the mission!

For someone who has never been outside of Europe before, it is a massive culture shock. There is nowhere to hide from the poverty that constantly surrounds you – it simply hits you full in the face.

To be honest, I am slightly worried about how we will be received by the staff at IcFEM. Will we be viewed as a hindrance rather than a help? However, once we have arrived there, every one of my doubts is laid to rest. They are so welcoming. No, the word welcoming doesn’t do them justice – they open their arms with love, excited that we should be here. I feel at home within about five minutes.

Over the next few days, we only catch a glimpse of all the work that IcFEM do. In particular, we spend two days taking part in the elderly section of the missions, helping to build a mud hut for an old Mamma.

Once again, I feel highly inadequate. Even my Father (who I am travelling with) and who would call himself pretty practical is put to shame. It seems to me that a Kenyan can do more with a Machete than an Englishman ever could with a whole toolbox full of equipment. Once again though, I am made to feel as though every action I do is an amazing contribution – something I am prone to disagree with.

House building is hard work, especially in the hot sun of Africa, and towards the end of the day, I begin to feel myself longing for my favourite armchair back at home, missing the luxury comforts of England already. And although I do miss home, I will be able to go back there in a couple of weeks, safe and sound. And yet, the people who surround me can’t do that – they will be back here tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that – this is their life. The realisation hits me like a bucket of cold, icy water, and the armchair becomes suddenly shrouded with guilt.

As well as building, we also get involved in Dreamland’s (the local school) sports day. I am amazed at how trusting they are at letting two complete, white strangers simply walk into the school unannounced and start joining in with all that’s going on. Soon, we have all the kids joining in with a manic game of British Bulldog.

'Sports Day' provided even more opportunities for involvement in the life and work of the mission.

Throughout the week, we join in here and there with what is going on, getting to know the local community a bit, doing our best to find out exactly how IcFEM works. It is a truly incredible mission – one that seeks to do the will of God completely and utterly. The people themselves are filled with a strong, deep and powerful love of God and this comes across so clearly in the way that they welcome and treat us throughout the whole time we are there. But at the same time, there isn’t any sort of falseness behind their actions – they are being genuine through and through. It is a firm example of how we all should live for God.

At the end of our stay, they throw a small leaving party for us. Various people (some of whom we have never met before) stand up and tell us why they feel so blessed to have had us here with them. It is rather difficult to know what to say back to them – I manage to stammer my thanks and say what a wonderful time I’ve had which seems to be the right thing because they all nod and smile back at me.

But they’ve got one thing wrong – they might have felt blessed, but really, I’m the one who has been so abundantly blessed that I’m drowning in it. I’ve been blessed to see the work that they’re doing, blessed to get to know them, blessed to see how they live for God. One thing’s for certain – this has been a truly life-changing experience.

Kayleigh Fox