Earlier this year, Shem received terrible news. His final exams were not high enough to enter college. He didn’t even apply and instead moved as far away from his shame as he could go. His uncle worked out near Lake Victoria- a day’s journey west. Shem packed a small bag and hitched a ride to become a manual laborer.
His longtime sponsors were coming to Kenya in March and desperately the staff sent several messages to Shem. Please come home. Please come visit. Your sponsors want to see you. Until then, Shem had not responded to any messages, but he surprised everyone by coming home to visit with his sponsors in March. They were delighted to see him! They had met him on a few other trips and knew of his low test scores, and so the three of them sat together for many hours talking and planning. When it was time to go, they hugged him hard and told him how proud they were of the young man he was becoming. They told him not to give up.
Shem came home, but he still didn’t know what to do. He had told his sponsors of his love for music, but how was that going to provide him a career? In June, another team came. This time carrying a pastor from Alabama. The pastor had brought a guitar. Worship was a sweet time for Shem that summer. He wondered if God could use him this same way- to draw people to God through worship. He stayed as close as he could to the pastor throughout the trip. On the very last day, as the van was loaded up, the pastor held out the guitar. “God told me to bring this on the trip. God told me that I would leave it here with someone, but I didn’t know who needed it. I want you to have this Shem. I brought it from Alabama for you.”
Shem told the fall team that he was overwhelmed with joy and filled with a sense of responsibility. He told the story of the guitar every time he stood up and lead worship in the small church in Molo, where he is now the Sunday worship leader every week. Shem also leads worship on Saturdays for the community at the House of Hope.
It’s been an incredible year for Shem. If his grades were better, as we all thought they would be. If he didn’t come back to meet his sponsors, as they spoke encouragement over him. If the pastor hadn’t listened to the Holy Spirit and the guitar stayed home. God used everything this year to turn Shem’s plans to God’s own plans for Shem.