The following is from a letter from Dave Osborne
Children are living on the streets in Kisumu, Kenya as with many other cities around the world. For many, one or both of their parents have died from AIDS. Others have been discarded, or run off by a step parent. Some have run away because of abuse. Some run away because they have stolen something and are afraid of the consequences. Many do not feel loved by anyone, even God.
Some find someone’s small shop to sleep in. Others sleep on sidewalks underneath a covering, or in an empty lot. Some have even slept in gutters underneath the sidewalks and streets.
Many, are addicted to glue. They inhale it to get high. One boy told me, “I can’t sleep without glue.” They say it helps them not feel the cold or the hunger. It also numbs them when they are violated by older boys as they sleep.
Many people think of them as “street rats.” I am trying to discipline myself to refer to them as “boys who live on the street,” rather than “street kids”. That’s a pejorative label that is difficult for them to shake.
Some churches will not allow them in their services. One pastor said in referring to the boys on the street, “sometimes you see something so long, you no longer see it.” They are thought of as a bother. They steal and cause trouble.
Many people don’t believe they can change. Many of the boys do not believe they can change. They don’t know who God created them to be.
Growing up in the Central Valley of California, my dad was the director of a Christian home for boys that needed help. Following my first year at Biola College, my parents went to Ecuador to serve as missionaries.
After Biola, I worked in a group home for troubled youth in Santa Barbara, as well as the boys home where my dad used to be the director. I received a M.Div. form Talbot Seminary, and went on to get an M.S. in psychology at California State University, L.A.
I worked in a Christian counseling center in Orange County as a licensed marriage and family therapist for ten years, and also served part time on staff of the Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton, and the Anaheim Vineyard. At the Free Church I worked with support groups and with singles. At the Vineyard, I was working in Compassion ministries with the poor.
I think it was in 2002, when I left California and moved to Colorado.
I was in Colorado for about five years, and the last three and a half of those, I had been asking God for a call.
Some friends of mine that I had worked with back at the Christian home for boys my dad had directed, had moved to Kenya to work with boys living on the streets. I received one of their newsletters that touched my heart, and decided to go visit them for a month and see if God might stir my heart.
Four days before I was to leave, we had gone out early in the morning to wake up some kids that may be sleeping in a vacant lot and invite them to the outreach. A young man took us through some allies and streets to another part of town.
Entering one alley where they just throw out garbage, I saw a boy reaching down into the garbage, eating some food that had been thrown away.
I came out of that alley and saw a boy across the street, coming up out of a hole in the sidewalk. He looked like he was just waking up, so I walked over to see where he had slept. As I looked down, I saw that it was the gutter that ran underneath the sidewalk, and it just broke my heart.
I said to myself, “God, I’ve got to do something about this!”
I’ve been to several developing countries on short term ministry trips, and seen lots of poverty, but for some reason, God has chosen Kenya as the place for me to minister. It was at that hole in the sidewalk, where I believe God called me to Kenya.
I look at it as my ten second window. Asking for a call for three and a half years, and God leads me to this hole in the sidewalk in Kisumu, Kenya. Ten seconds sooner, and I would have been on my way up the street, and the boy would have come up behind me. Ten seconds later, and he would have already been out before I got there.
As I walked up that street, a boy came alongside me and took my hand. Another boy came up on the other side of me, and out of his pocket, pulled a waded up New Testament without a cover. l asked him if he had a favorite verse. He quoted John 3:16 from memory and tears streamed down my eyes as we continued up the street.
I just had to do something to get these kids off the street!
Our Mission is to “help boys who have lived on the streets of Kisumu, Kenya, into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ, and wherever possible, back into a permanent home with a family member or relative.”
Our vision is to bring the boys who have lived on the street, into a transition home where they can experience the love of their Heavenly Father, leave their glue, sexual addiction, and other bad behaviors they’ve been involved in, and begin to live from their true identity in Christ.
We see them being helped through prayer ministry, Bible study, and counseling. We help them develop their character, and make amends with people they have wronged. We also help them develop a good work ethic.
As we have worked with the boys, we have seen how broken the families they come from are. We are hoping God will provide us with a farm someday, where we can invite family members of our boys to come and be discipled as well.