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I saw God in Nairobi

Sandy, second from the left, on his Nairobi adventure

Sandy, second from the left, on his Nairobi adventure

Many years ago, when I was a careless young man, I traveled to Nairobi, in Kenya, East Africa. I had relatives who worked as missionaries in the tea country, in the west of the country. If you know Kenya, they lived just west of Kericho, on the road to Kisumu. The drive from Nairobi, the big city, to Kericho is almost one day, with a few breaks.

My relatives invited me to visit them in Kenya, and I jumped at the chance because it sounded like a great adventure. I stopped my university studies, which were starting to bore me, and a good friend agreed to travel with me. He was also bored with life. On the way to Africa, we had to change planes in London, so we took several weeks and bought railway passes and travelled anywhere that seemed interesting in Europe, with backpacks.

This was all fun, including the time we got arrested for crossing the border into a communist country. They handcuffed us and then let us go after about an hour. In all the European excitement, I neglected one detail; the address in Kenya. We were too busy being young and irresponsible to think about information like that. It was the seventies, and we were young.

When we landed in the Nairobi airport, in Kenya, it suddenly hit me that I did not know where to go next. We solved this problem by getting on a bus that was provided by our airline, and we did this mostly because the bus was free. We travelled into that huge city and all the other passengers got off at large expensive hotels, until finally we stopped at the bus office, and a man told us to get off. It was a rough and light-industrial neighborhood, and we started to get scared. Nairobi is a very large city with millions of people. We did not know what to do, and the bus people were not helpful, they just told us to get off of the bus.

The only useful thought I could form was that I had seen a “Hotel” sign on a small building a few blocks before the bus office. We walked back in that direction, and yes, the shabby little hotel was open, and the prices were cheap. We got a room, and it happened to be on the second or third floor, overlooking the front street. The view of the street was restricted by the angle from the window, and I could mostly see a small patch of pavement on the other side. The windows had louvers to keep out the tropical sun, and we could only see down at an angle. It was not a scenic view.

At least we were able to find food and we had beds to sleep on, but it began to dawn on me that we were in big trouble. My relatives did not know that we had arrived in the country, and we had no contact information. I like to think that I am more mature now.

At the time, I was a Christian and my friend was not, and he liked to make fun of my beliefs. He was not happy with me on that day, and I had no defense. I wasn’t even sure if God would help someone who was so irresponsible. I knew I had messed up.

Sandy with his cousins, the Toyota Land Rover and his friend

Sandy with his cousins, his friend and the Toyota Land Rover

The next morning, I got up and tried to use a pay phone in the hotel, but I didn’t understand the coins and the phone system and I remember losing most of the coins on the floor. I went back to the room that we had to vacate soon and glanced out the window at that small patch of pavement. Just when I looked, and just where I looked, my uncle and my cousins drove by. I did not know that they owned a Toyota Land Cruiser, but I recognized their faces.

They lived far away from the city, on the western side of the country, and the street by the hotel was not a busy one, and the neighborhood was not a place where people from other countries went. It was a bit rough and industrial. I was shocked to see my relatives there, of all places.

Of course, I sprinted down the stairs and out the front door of the hotel, but they were gone. It was just a big tease.

I went back to the room and told my friend what happened, and I glanced out the window one more time. Again, just when I looked, and just where I looked, in that small patch of pavement, my uncle parked his truck and stepped out, with my cousins. He was shopping for a part for his Toyota, and the parts store that he chose was near our hotel. I sure he hardly noticed the shabby hotel across the street. There were many rooms in the hotel, but I think ours was the only one with a view of that one parking spot.

This time I caught them, and they were shocked to see me waving and calling from across that street.

There were many adventures in Kenya in the months after that, and I eventually returned home and did other things with my life. The great lesson I learned was that God takes care of irresponsible young men. I was not good enough to deserve any help, I created that problem; and I had all the help I needed. Miracles are not for good people, they are from a good God.

“The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:9)

If you doubt any part of this story, I remember it all clearly. It gave me a different perspective on life, which I still have. My critical friend later became a Christian. I haven’t seen him for more than twenty years, but I have heard that he is still convinced and doing well. All of the others in this story are still with us. My uncle and aunt are retired; my aunt was busy somewhere at the time, but she heard the story from us. My cousins are grown with their own families, and I am sure they remember that strange meeting.

I saw God in Nairobi in the way the we can see God in this life. An invisible hand worked for my good, and I can’t explain the story without God.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Romans 8:31 to 34)


    • smcintos says

      Thank you for that. I believe we should not let these stories about the goodness of God disappear.


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