Global Woman Highlight | Deb Smith
My God-given assignment is simple, that of living out the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. God has me primarily focusing on single parents and their children, as an example of 2 Corinthians 1:4 – God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
I am a proud mother of four children and have the joy of loving several delightful grandchildren ranging in age from six months to the oldest who is in college. After going through an unwanted divorce many years ago and continuing to homeschool my children as a single parent, I stand as an example that God’s joy and purpose for our lives rises up out of the ashes.
It is my pleasure to serve God by loving a handful of single-parent families in Kenya, East Africa. They are the ‘neighbors’ to whom He has connected me. They live in one-room flats in urban slums as well as mud houses in remote, rural villages. God intends for these relationships to be long-lasting and deep, continuing over the course of many years and many life-events. Together, we share meals; we have picnics and we fly kites; we celebrate birthdays and weddings; we cry together at funerals.
Sometimes this neighbor-love involves helping with start-up capital for a small business, providing wells and ‘shamba’ land for poor farmers, assisting victims of Tuberculosis and Jiggers, supporting a church in the slums, and providing school fees so children can attend school.
Living in a foreign land and culture requires a high learning curve – even after 12 years! Because of that, I am keen to be a life-long learner in this regard. Additionally, after suffering burnout and exhaustion a few years ago, I now practice contemplative Christian disciplines. This enables me to ‘do good better’ and goes a long way in making sure I keep God as the center and prompter of all my activity. I am likewise intentional about maintaining a balance of ministry out-go with rest, following in the footsteps of Jesus as he frequently escaped from the crowds. Being deliberate about engaging with life-giving friends and recreation also assists me in the essential exercise of refilling my reserves.
My aim is to be a spiritual leader like Deborah in the book of Judges. Living in a patriarchal society, like I do, she didn’t hold back as a woman. She functioned in willing cooperation with God’s plans and calling on her life. She offered herself to God, surrendering her passion to Him for His exclusive use. She had no fear of going right into the battle, knowing that with God at her side she was capable of bold action. Like Deborah, I long to be a woman fully abandoned in God’s hands and to be used for His purposes of justice in the world.
I am currently providing an education for six young Kenyan friends of mine. Please pray with me that the money will continue to come in to cover their school fees and other expenses.
And remember the exhortation of Jesus in your own life: Love your neighbor as yourself.
About the author
When God called me to Kenya, he revealed a simple assignment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ He then connected me to a handful of single parents and their children, orphans, and refugees in urban slums and rural villages. I have come alongside these friends in long-lasting, one-on-one relationships since 2001. We share meals, we laugh and we cry together, we go on picnics. Sometimes it includes a financial hand-up and other times it includes balloons and a birthday cake. I am currently learning how to better do cross-cultural ministry through a balanced lifestyle that includes contemplative practices.View all articles by: Deb Smith
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