“I am unwanted. Why did God create me?”
Absco* speaks from her bed in the daytime shadows of her bedroom.
“People in the community do not want to associate with us,” says her mother, Olivia.* “Some say it’s a generational curse. The way they look, they don’t appreciate the way she is.”
Children with disabilities in Kenya are hidden in back bedrooms by their families. Parents bear the weight of false assumptions:
God must be angry at them; the child is cursed or bewitched; the child is paying for sins in generations past; or perhaps God has flat-out abandoned them.
At best, not understanding their handicap, and at worst, believing God is the enemy, parents are filled with shame and embarrassment. The air in their rickety homes is heavy with heartbreak and helplessness.
Why sports camps
How would an all-American athlete like Michelle Palacio Krewson, a five-year SIM worker, come to have anything to do with a suffering child in Kenya?
“I grew up an athlete,” she says. “I was on the swim team from the time I was four through college. In nearly 20 years of swimming, I had one Christian coach, and he had a profound impact on my life. He was so much more than a coach, he cared about his athletes.”
Serving with SIM’s Sports Friends ministry connects her with children in multiple countries from Africa and Asia to the Americas. Children who:
- crave activity
- are curious about life
- have never heard or understood the gospel
- are overlooked, forgotten, and shunned by society…
…they are all drawn to sports camps.
The power of a coach
“In our community, children with disabilities live in unbelievable poverty and isolation,” says Joseph, a Sports Friends coach in Kenya.
“We are reaching out to the hidden and forgotten in our community, who are at our doorstep, who are least reached with the gospel.”
Just as Michelle’s Christian college swim coach influenced the course of her life with the love and truth of Jesus Christ, so too are Sports Friends coaches eager to reach children of every ability and disability with the hope of the good news.
“Our coaches are more than just sports coaches, they’re life coaches,” says Michelle.
They love, mentor, and lead young people into a relationship with Jesus, and walk alongside them, often for years, after they receive and begin following Him.
Camp changes lives
“Sports Friends Kenya is hosting a camp for families with disabilities,” says Joseph.
“It is a once in a lifetime experience for these families. Children get loved all day long by our coaches. They have time to play. They have arts and crafts, they can enjoy three square meals a day while their parents attend trauma healing sessions.”
The laughter and love the children and their parents experience at camp is unlike anything they have back home. The truth of the gospel slices through the lies and assumptions they’ve come to believe about the reality living with a handicap, and it welcomes a new day of hope.
“After learning God’s truth at the camp, I am strong,” says one young mother. “The family is strong.”
Another mom hugs her child and says, “I am so happy to be well looked after and to see my daughter being loved.”
“I have been impacted by the [Trauma Healing] sessions,” says another parent. “My heart wounds have been healed. I am leaving the camp in peace and in a greater position to look after my daughter Jane.”
And Olivia and Absco? The Sports Friends camp ushered in a new day for them. “I thank God for this opportunity of a lifetime with my daughter,” Olivia says, “that I could never have dreamed of.”
“God loves us,” says one girl in a wheelchair. “He does not despise us.”
Please join us in prayer:
- PRAY for Olivia and Absco, that they will experience God’s strength and love in their daily lives.
- PRAY for the children in Kenya who live with disabilities, and for their families—that they would come to know and follow Jesus.
- PRAY for SIM’s Sports Friends ministry, that it will continue as an effective tool for sharing the gospel and discipling new believers all around the world.
Your generosity today reaches youth at camps from Asia and Africa to the Americas.
Please prayerfully consider giving a gift to Sports Friends, a ministry where SIM workers like Michelle lavish the love of God on youth of every ability and background, that they would come to know and follow Jesus.