Many Kenyan Christians allow their boys to participate because of cultural and social pressures, much as a parent in the USA might feel pressured to allow their child to celebrate Halloween or for their teen to go on a questionable spring break trip. As a result of the ritual, many boys do themselves great spiritual harm. Furthermore, there was also a big church dropout rate for the ones that had been attending a church. Rev. Kawe describes it, in a classic African way, as "leading a child by the hand until we reach a river, and because there is no crossing, we ask a crocodile to ferry the child to the other side. Of course the child never arrives because the crocodile eats him on the way. Instead, we should be building a bridge across the river to safely guide the child on the way to adulthood."
So, the Royal Bridging Center was created as a one week alternative event where boys are circumcised by a Christian doctor and then surrounded with a godly environment during the recovery period. Pastors, special guests, and Christian counselors teach the boys what God’s word says about manhood and help them prepare to be a godly husband and father one day. As a result, 100% of the boys who have gone through the program so far have stayed in the church and also have grown spiritually. Some non-churched boys have even found Christ through the Bridging Centre. The program has now been expanded for adolescent girls to spend a week learning how to become a godly woman and keep themselves pure until marriage.
With such success among the boys, we wanted to offer solid training for girls. Debbie Barthalow, a fellow AG missionary, and I created a curriculum on purity for the girls attending the center. Last year we graduated 9 girls. The subjects tackled in the teachings make most Kenyan moms squirm. Purity, abstinence, marriage, dating, self-worth based on biblical teachings and much more are included in the teaching. After the first girls graduated, so many mothers thanked us over and over again for presenting this information in our center. The generation of churched mothers that exist now never had parents that were open about these sensitive subjects. In some parts of Kenya, Female Genitalia Mutilation (female circumcision) is still practiced. Parents just do not know how to talk openly and unashamedly to their children about abstinence because it involves a taboo subject.
This year, we took on the girls at Kenya Kids. This summer, I was thinking about the girls at the children's home and realized that most of them do not have parents and might never be taught about purity and their destiny as a woman of God. After I told a men's class in Florida about the need for the girls to go through the program and to be sponsored, the men overwhelmingly donated the money for the girls to attend our center. In August, 12 girls graduated and 10 were from Kenya Kids. During the graduation ceremony, the girls smiled and received their certificates, roses, and a necklace as a reminder that they had "crossed a bridge" into womanhood. My favorite gift which the girls received was their shirts. I posted a picture below.
We gave each girl a journal to take notes. They had fun decorating their notebooks.
The girls in church during their graduation.
I consider it a privilege to invest in young girls. When I was young, so many women took the time to teach me the ways of the Lord. My heart is full of thanks for all the ladies from my mom to my Sunday school teachers who took time from their busy schedules to fill me up with the love of Jesus and His teachings. In a few years, I hope the Lord allows me to see where God takes these girls.