Speaking to 500 Kenyan women, there was bound to be some nerves.
Kendra Graham has dealt with those butterflies swirling around many times before, even when she’s “speaking to my own peeps.”
But the wife of Will Graham had a major case of the jitters on Friday morning in Nakuru, Kenya, as she spoke at a women’s conference, a few hours before the Will Graham Celebration of Peace Nakuru kicked off Friday afternoon.
“I was absolutely overwhelmed with nerves and anxiety,” Kendra said.
Her message came from Exodus 3:7-8a:
“And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.”
Kendra had a burden to share with the Kenyan women that they had not escaped God’s notice. That He sees the affliction of His people and His heart breaks over them.
“I don’t know what they are going through,” she said, “but God laid it on my heart to tell the women that He is very aware and cares deeply about it.”
And even though this is Kendra’s first trip to Kenya, she has already found herself connecting with the women, getting the opportunity to pray with several after her time of sharing.
“The people of this great country are so welcoming and so genuine,” she said. “You can’t help but embrace them.”
The trip has been memorable for Kendra in a multitude of ways. One particular highlight was speaking to the head of nurses at Tenwek Hospital.
A labor and delivery nurse herself for 13 years at a major U.S. hospital, Kendra quickly realized that she would not be equipped to do her job in Kenya. “I would need more education,” she said. “It is amazing what this hospital is doing for the country.”
She’ll also bring back with her lasting images of young faces that were aglow after receiving a shoebox through Operation Christmas Child. “To see their faces will change you forever.”
OCC Touches 200 at School
On Thursday, Kendra, Will and teams from both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse distributed shoebox gifts to 200 students at Mama Ngina Primary School.
“I absolutely loved handing out shoebox gifts,” Kendra said. “The way the kids sang their songs to the Lord in worship was amazing. I wish my kids sang like that in school.
“These kids love the Lord and are so gracious and loving. So, so respectful. I was blown away.”
Last year, more than 50,000 children in Kenya received a gift-filled shoebox and “The Greatest Journey” evangelism and discipleship program has launched this year. So far, 180 teachers have been trained with 3,000 children expected to graduate from the program this year in Kenya, each receiving a colorful New Testament Bible.
“I have loved meeting the people,” Kendra said. “They are passionate for God and are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.”
Friday Night ‘Baptisms’
The Will Graham Celebration of Peace Nakuru was greeted with showers on its first night, Friday, but Will Graham proclaimed the Gospel in a powerful way.
“Just finished preaching in the rain, where some still responded despite the rain,” Will Graham said on his Facebook page. “God is good. In a sense I guess we had baptisms as well.”
Holding proclamation events in Kenya dates back to 1960, with Billy Graham Crusades in both Nairobi and Kisumu.
“BGEA’s involvement in proclaiming the Gospel in Kenya began over a half-century ago with Billy Graham,” said Preston Parrish, BGEA’s Executive Vice President of Ministries. “In more recent years, Franklin Graham has worked to advance the Gospel there as well, both through BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse.”
The Celebration continues throughout the weekend with free events on Saturday and Sunday afternoon at Githma (Mama Scrape Grounds).
“Kenya, along with Africa as a whole, is an enormously important harvest field, where – despite centuries of ministry by missionaries and indigenous believers – spiritual blindness persists and opponents of the Gospel are making inroads,” Parrish said. “Will Graham’s efforts there now underscore the truth that every generation must be reached with the Gospel, and that’s what we remain committed to doing.”
Welcome Parade for Will
Will and Kendra Graham were greeted on Wednesday with a motorcade described as big, fun and chaotic. A marching band led the parade, followed by scores of vehicles, motorcycles and a van with blaring loud speakers and flyers plastered along both sides.
When the motorcade ended near the Merica Hotel, Will Graham poked his head out the sunroof and greeted the crowd.
“Thank you so much. This is a wonderful welcome,” he told the crowd. “I don’t think I’ve ever had something like this before and so thank you for this wonderful welcome.
“I can’t wait for the next few nights at the Celebration of Peace. I pray that God will do a great and mighty work.”
Jocelyn Gacheri, a director at Vera Beauty College, drove a van from the college in the motorcade.
“It’s a harvest, a celebration in this city of Nakuru,” Gacheri said. “And to me it is a soul-harvesting season, because we have a visitor from very far away, a relative of one of the Christians that you always watch on TV. So we are delighted to see his grandchild.”