Joyce Strong Ministries

Trip Reports

Kenya, November 2015


FOCUS:  Blessings Hope Educational Centre

Kitale, Kenya


Day One:  From the airport in Eldoret, Pastor Samuel took us straight to a plot of land that Carol and Don had purchased for the metal fabrication and tailoring businesses that will be built to help Blessings Hope (BH) reach financial self-sufficiency.  Two Russian churches have joined donors here to provide an extension of electricity to the businesses and to BH as well!  This will be a dream come true!  I don’t know how the children, widows and staff have managed in the darkness of the evenings, especially in the dreary rainy season.  They have been using a gas-powered generator to light the grounds at night for security, but inside, all the buildings have been dark.  Can you imagine?  They will still be subject to sporadic outages so common in Kenya, but they will essentially have light.  Praise God!

From there, we went to the compound a mile or so further, to be greeted by the singing, smiling children, widows and staff of BH.  How wonderful to see them all again—healthy, happy and full of joy!  The children have completely worn out their uniforms during the two years since they received them, but replacements are on the way.  So don’t be alarmed at the tattered sweaters of some of the children when you view the pics that are attached.  These clothes have been worn every weekday for two years solid!

Day Two:  Carol and Don set about the enormous task of interviewing the widows and getting updated info from the sponsored children and as many unsponsored as possible. The bulk of their time would be with the widows, gathering their stories and praying for all of them, including some who came to visit from town when they heard that Carol and Don were there.  Altogether, the interviews consumed two and a half days!  What an amazing difference their ministry made in the widows’ hearts especially.  On the day we left BH for home, the widows looked twenty years younger than when we arrived!  

At the Women’s Conference where I was speaking, the grace and power of God were at work.  Women were set free from the power of shame, Satan’s lies were exposed and broken, and forgiveness flowed as they were ministered to by the Holy Spirit.  Several men decided they weren’t going to leave just because they were men and were touched by God as well.  (I’ve often wondered why we separate the sexes so often here in the States.  Men and women need to understand what each other is suffering and be in on each other’s victories.  How often women go home from conferences wishing their husbands could have heard what they did, but sadly know that their repeating it will not have the same effect.  Perhaps men feel the same regrets after a men’s conference!)

Day Three:  The Commencement Day parade of students and teachers, led by the Salvation Army Band from the local village of Birunda, made its way down the long dirt road, past smiling neighbors, to the BH compound. (Carol and I rode on motorcycles this time!  That was a sight to behold!) 

The atmosphere was festive:  singing and dancing filled the church, visiting leaders were introduced and honored, and everyone enjoyed it all immensely!  Don joined Carol and me in taking turns handing out certificates to the children as they came up to receive them. 

This year, every student succeeded in passing on to the next level.  What a celebration!  What excellent teachers they have and what a perfect environment to bring God’s healing of mind, soul and spirit!  The day was truly a celebration of the empowering love of God that floods BH. 

Day Four:  The service Sunday was another joyful celebration—with singing, dancing and praising God for all he has done.  Glorious worship flooded the grounds and filled the church which was packed to overflowing.  Oh, to be filled with childlike reverence always and uninhibited worship of the Living God every day of our lives!  Yes, heaven will be like that!

The Holy Spirit moved again, touching, encouraging and convicting men and women during the sermon.  The heavens were so open and preaching, a joy!  The altar was filled at the end as individuals responded to the Lord.  It was GOOD!

After the service, everyone moved on foot to the widows’ and orphans’ homes for Carol and Don to dedicate and open.  From there, we walked to Pastor Samuel’s new home and finally to the church, both of which I had the joy of dedicating to the Lord and opening.  It was sweet and grand at the same time.

The daily rains moved in as we finished and headed for Pastor Isaac Gykonyo’s home in Kitale for dinner.  His wife served us an incredible array of delicious foods that she had prepared in her kitchen during the afternoon.  The power went out shortly after we arrived, so we ate dinner by candlelight as the rain fell in a steady rhythm on the roof and all around the cozy home Isaac had built years ago for his family.  What a lovely visit we had!

Day Five:  Monday morning, Pastor Samuel and his assistant Roy picked us up at our hotel in Kitale.  I was delivered to Samuel’s father’s ministry in Kiminini to speak at the Pastors’ Conference.  (Michael Wafula, Samuel’s dad, has been in pastoral and church planting ministry for decades and is bishop to many pastors in the region and beyond.)  Carol and Don were taken to BH to continue their interviewing.

I had designed the day to be a respite for the pastors and leaders with teaching geared to encourage, strengthen and enhance their ministries and marriages.  We had refreshing, open discussions, much laughter and lovely moments of solitude among trees that ringed the property and dotted the yard. I loved it.  I think they did too.  Then at the end of the day, Samuel arrived with the Bibles and books that many of you had helped us purchase or print.  How grateful they were for God’s Word, Instruments for His Glory, Leading with Passion and Grace and Journey to Joy!

By the way, Journey to Joy not only led to the founding of a new church by that name in another village in the region, but now an orphans’ ministry and school called Journey to Joy Academy.  (Please pray for them to be able to buy land on which to eventually build.  They have been collecting donations locally and would simply love our prayers.)

Day Six:  On this our last day, we returned to BH to wrap things up before making the 2-3-hr. trek to Eldoret airport.  Carol and Don finished their interviewing while I met with teachers and staff to encourage them and give them gifts.  Then finally, I had a little quality time with the children, hugging many and chatting with those who overcame their shyness and ventured close.

(By the way, the kids were absolutely fascinated by my white hair, touching it whenever they could.  At one point while out in the yard, I bent over and just let them play with it right there!  Boy, did that draw a crowd!  I don’t know how many little fingers ran through it that day!)

All 110 children joined together to show me the games they played and the acrobatics they could perform.  I was constantly amazed at all they could do to be clever and entertaining without a single toy other than a mud-filled plastic bag which served as the ball they threw at each other during dodge ball!  (Of course, the teacher was very happy to receive the two new soccer balls that Lynn and Stephen Sparks had sent with us.) 

God’s love engulfed us all and made saying goodbye for now very sweet.

It was all amazing.  God is amazing.  We are silly to ever doubt Him or think we are alone or forgotten…

I hope Jesus’ love touches your heart and refreshes you as you imagine what we experienced and as you view the pics that are attached.  Look into their faces and enjoy them as we have.

What an honor and joy God gives us all to serve the risen Savior!  Amen?  May this and every day be one of thanksgiving for all of us!



Dear friends and family,

As I review the Prayer Points from which you and we were praying during our recent ministry in Kenya, I rejoice that God honored every request!  In addition, I am delighted to share with you some special observations and results:

The children were very warm, loving and grateful.  They finally know and trust us completely!

The widows were filled with hope, joy and new life.

The Holy Spirit guided Carol and me each day in each event or encounter, and the Lord sustained us with his grace and strength.

Joyce’s sermons at Blessings Hope and at African Inland Church in Sibanga brought fresh gratitude for God’s hand in their pasts and renewed their expectation of God’s power in the days to come. (Ps. 126)

Lives were deeply impacted in the Youth Conference and the Leaders’ Conference.

Lambs on the Ledge opened pastors’ and leaders’ eyes to many mistakes they had been making and shed light on the problems with which they had been grappling.  

The children and staff are all now in love with jumping rope!  

The widows will never forget the great blessings of the tea party, the foot washing and communion with Carol.  The nail polishing party also brought much joy.

Twenty-nine widows responded to Carol’s challenge to create business plans for themselves!  

The orphans on campus were successfully interviewed for the reports for sponsors.

The new dining room and kitchen (replete with two new, vented cookers) are finished except for pouring the concrete flooring and obtaining tables and chairs.

The new widows’ house will be finished by Christmas!

Samuel (on right below) was blown away by the pics of present orphan sponsors.  (If your pic did not reach us, it’s not too late to send it.  We will create another collage for yours and those of the new sponsors whom God will add throughout the coming months.


Challenges for Prayer

    The terror group Al Shabab from Somalia is trying to recruit young men and boys in Kenya as they walk to and from school.  They offer gifts of money and “friendship”, and some have been abducted.   Children are in grave danger.

    Therefore, Pastor Samuel is preparing to add high school classes onto Blessings Hope so that the students will not have to leave campus for local high schools.  Beginning in 2018, two classes will be added a year.  Already, he has begun expanding the current main classroom building in preparation for this change.

    This will mean a need for more teachers, curriculum, the whole nine yards.  In the long run, however, it will actually be less expensive than sending the BH students off campus for high school.  But it will be a huge challenge getting to that point.  Please pray for God’s direction and provision for all of this.  I could readily see that it will be necessary!

    Meanwhile, pray for our high schoolers’ safety when off campus.  Never before have Kenyans had to worry about such danger, and it is a huge, sad change in the way they live their lives.  Assumed safety and freedom of movement are a thing of the past.  We have seen this change in American life, and now it is hitting them squarely in the face.

    Another matter of prayer is a proposed Bible and Life Training Institute for pastors and leaders who have never had the opportunity to attend Bible School.  It is to be held on Blessings Hope grounds in modules at regular intervals throughout the year.  Pastor Isaac Gikonyo, Beth Matau and I have been asked to develop the plans and curriculum for this institute.  It will offer not only Bible and Christian life training, but home business creation and farming techniques.  My input will be material from my leadership books.  Isaac and Beth will provide the rest according to their passions and experience.  Both are superior teachers and students of the Word and are trained in the practical issues of life in Kenya.  Pray for this very important endeavor on behalf of the struggling pastors in that Region of East Africa.

    Thank you for reading this thoughtfully and for your partnership in heart and spirit with this ministry.  Your passion for what breaks God’s heart and brings hope to the world is profoundly important to this work.  Be blessed in the mighty name of Jesus our LORD!

            By grace and with great gratitude for your love,