Editor’s Note: After getting involved with FamilyLife while living in Arkansas, James and Chao Wanje joined Campus Crusade for Christ. They returned to their native Kenya to work with African families and have now established a FamilyLife ministry there.
I met Cucu about four years ago in a slum called Marurui, on the outskirts of Nairobi City. My husband, James, and I have made and built friendships with the people in this slum for the last four years. We have been involved in the building of a church in the slum and have also evangelized, made disciples, and sent many of those men and women to go and reach their neighbors.
Cucu has always been a challenge. She is stubborn and mean, rude and crude, annoying … and also very loving.
Cucu has not been able to walk for several years, and I usually find her in the same spot—where her grandchildren carry and leave her for the day. Other than her legs, the rest of her body functions just fine, especially her mouth! Cucu yells from a distance whenever I go see her, demanding that I give her money for either tobacco or alcohol. When I bring her food, she tries to throw it back at me. But after a while she calms down and allows me to sit next to her and chat while she eats.
My heart aches every time I see Cucu. I want so much for her to be free from her addictions and just enjoy the life she has on this earth. More than anything, I desire for her to embrace Christ as her Lord and Savior. In the beginning, I would open the Bible and she would grab it and throw it away. But after four years, she is now okay with me reading the Bible to her and she even allows me to pray for her.
Cucu was a prostitute in her sunrise year. She brewed traditional alcohol and sold it to the locals, especially to her male clients. Her daughter has followed her example of prostitution and also brews alcohol for business. This daughter has four children and two of them are now prostitutes. They are also single mothers.
After visiting with Cucu about a month ago, I felt downcast in my soul, wondering what else we could do for her. Why not go over and give Cucu a bath? I thought.
The first bath in three months
A friend and I packed water in the truck and drove to the slum. I honesty was worried that Cucu would beat me up and not let me do what I so much wanted to do: Serve her by washing her. Amazingly, she said yes. In addition, Cucu allowed me to carry her to the make-shift bathroom we had created.
It was such a joy to clean my friend up and give her clean clothes to wear. I am not exaggerating when I say that she had not taken a bath for at least three months. Afterward, Cucu looked and smelled good! Before my friend and I left, we shared bread and prayed with her. About a week or so later, my team went back and cleaned Cucu’s area.
It was amazing what this act of love did to this precious family. During a visit, my friends found one of the grandchildren burning with fever. They prayed for her and rushed her to the hospital. According to the hospital’s reports, that child would have died if she had arrived just a bit later. This opened the door for us to explain the gospel to the mother. Although she usually would not have given us even a minute of her time, on this day she allowed my friends to read Psalm 139. As they read and explained the Scriptures, she asked the Lord to be her Savior and Lord.
In the home of this mother was a huge container filled with their brew. The women asked the mother to get rid of it, and she was reluctant. This was her livelihood; if she threw it out, what would she feed her family with?
Then one of the ladies asked, “How much would you sell it for?”
“Three hundred eighty shillings,” she replied.
“I will buy it.” Three hundred eighty shillings translates into about five dollars, which can help feed her family for at least two days and it is almost half her rent.
As the container was carried outside to dump it, one of Cucu’s granddaughters cried out, “I want to receive Christ too.”
Lessons on waiting
Cucu still sits at her usual spot as she waits for anyone to walk by and give her money for tobacco, alcohol, and maybe bread. Her hygiene is still poor and her legs are still weak. And her mouth is still very strong.
We are not giving up on Cucu. After all, we are asked to witness by the power of the Holy Spirit and leave everything to God. My friend Cucu is aware of Christ’s love for her. Although she has not made a profession to follow Him, we continue to love her in any way we know. It is not our job to change her. Our job is to keep sharing Christ in deeds and in words.
As I keep reaching out to Cucu, I continue to learn the lesson on waiting. What the Lord did in this slum is a taste of what He has yet to do, if I do not grow weary.
Copyright © 2009 by Chao Wanje. All rights reserved. Used with permission.