As I reflect on what happened to Jesus on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I think about Nathaniel. Easygoing and articulate, it is easy to get the impression that Nathaniel comes from a well-to-do family.
But until a few years ago, Nathaniel lived in a plastic shack in desperately poor conditions in a slum in Nairobi. With only plastic sheets as cover from the elements and surviving on what little food he could find, life was bleak and hopeless for Nathaniel and his family. He had no work and could not think of any work he could actually do. He felt inferior to others and worthless in himself.
He thought living in desperate poverty was his fate.
Attracted to love
It was at this low point that members of a local church found Nathaniel while visiting people in the slum as part of the church and community mobilisation process (CCMP), backed by Tearfund Netherlands. Nathaniel told me how embarrassed he felt when the group first found him. There was no place for them to sit and no coffee or tea to share. But in his hopeless situation, Nathaniel was attracted to the love of God that he could see in this group of people. Building on his connection with them, he would eventually open his small room to host weekly Bible study meetings for other people living in the slum. That was the beginning point of change. His heart, mind and everything were transformed through the word of God.
Through the Bible studies and his relationship with people in the church, Nathaniel discovered that God loves him and has given him talents and resources to improve his life, and the lives of his family and neighbours. Today, Nathaniel no longer lives in a shack – he lives in a flat. He is a qualified teacher helping children to receive an education to improve their lives and achieve their God-given potential. He has also studied theology and is part of his church’s CCMP leadership group involved in expanding the church’s work in the community.