Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In Memory of Tata Chairman Philip Mohochi

I had heard much about Philip long before I ever had the opportunity to meet him. He had retired from a career working in a bank to return to his home community in Kuria West, Kenya in an effort to help address the systemic poverty he had witnessed there all of his life. He was a man deeply committed to his faith, his family, and to the service of others. And he was a linchpin in the world of Nuru.

In 2011, I was able to travel with a couple other Nuru team members, Kim Do, and Karina Sobieski to visit Kuria West, and see first-hand the impact of Nuru's work on the ground. During that time one of my greatest memories was a morning spent in Chairman Mohochi's home sharing stories and dreaming of what the future held for Kuria West, for Kenya, and for Nuru International's work around the globe.

Philip was an inspiring individual to be around. He loved others well, and provided strategic direction and cohesion for Nuru's work in Kenya over these last five years. He was the keeper of the vision for Nuru Kenya.

Today, I received word that Philip and his brother Robi were killed in a car accident on their way home from Migori, Kenya. As I have had time to reflect, my sadness has grown but so has my hopefulness. I'm sad for the loss of this inspiring and visionary leader for Nuru Kenya and Nuru International. When someone leaves this world, there is always sadness, but today my sadness is mixed with shock and anger because I feel like this was an occasion where someone was ripped out of this world into the next.

At the same time I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful because this world's loss is heaven's gain. Philip's faith was an inspiration to me during the handful of times we were able to talk about our shared hope and our mutual inspiration for service. And I know that this was true about Philip for many others as well. I'm hopeful because of the vision that Philip had for Kuria, for Kenya, and for the world is becoming a reality.

Philip's Question from Nuru International on Vimeo.

During the last time I talked to him in his home, I saw a photo of Jake, Janine, Nicole, Doug, and himself on his wall from the first weeks they were in Kuria West starting Nuru together. I asked him, "What is it like for you when you look at that photo and think about what has been accomplished in these last four years?"

Philip's eyes brightened, he smiled, and he looked me in the eyes and said, "It's like I'm living in a dream!" He went on to talk about how much had been accomplished and his vision for taking Nuru to even more communities across his country.

And now as I write this, I think about all of those who Philip touched through his life. I think about his friends, his family, and his community in Kuria West as they mourn the loss of their beloved friend, their father, their Chairman. I think about all of the people who have been supporting Nuru's efforts in Kenya and Ethiopia and how they were inspired by his story of servant leadership. I think about the way occasions like this leave us all without words and filled with unanswerable questions.

And then I think about the strong foundation he laid and his legacy. I think about the fact that because of Philip and his vision for his community, there are over 30,000 people in Kuria West who are lifting themselves out of extreme poverty. Because of Philip and his vision, that number will be steadily increasing in the years ahead in Kenya and in other countries. Because of Philip, a whole generation of leaders around the globe will continue to "be Nuru" and bring lasting change to our neighbors who are needlessly suffering.

May those who knew him continue fiercely moving forward in the work he bravely began, and may those who did not have the privilege of knowing him be inspired by his life and vision to join us in this fight!

Remembering My Aunt Rosemary

It was late Sunday evening January 19th when I was able to talk to my Uncle Bill. He, my cousins, their children, and their pastor had gathered at the hospital to wait. Aunt Rosemary was taken to the hospital earlier in the day with critical vitals, and doctors had just said that my aunt was septic, and that her systems were slowly going to be shutting down. And now, as you read this, my aunt has left this world to be with her King Jesus.

As I prayed with my uncle over the phone Sunday night, I burst into tears. Not because my aunt was not destined for a better place, but because of the great void she will leave behind here. My mind flooded with an incredible array of memories of my aunt and the way she cared for me and so many others.

My family's loss is heaven's gain. My aunt fought a number of illnesses during the years I knew her, but that's just the thing. She fought. She fought the good fight and finished the race. There was a point in time a few years ago, that the doctors had said she was dying, but she fought back to stay because she wanted more time with her family and people she loved.

Aunt Rosemary was always quick to open her home and give generously of her resources to help others. For several years, she and Uncle Bill supported the work I was doing with Great Commission Ministries, and I know she supported many other activities in the area. She always opened her home and made sure that my cousins' children, Brandon and Liz, always had a safe environment for themselves and their friends from school to hang out.

Aunt Rosemary was very proud of her sons and her family members for their accomplishments, and LOVED having visitors. I can remember many visits, even when my aunt wasn't feeling well, when she would hear the voices of company in the living room of the house, she would rally the energy to come visit, sit for a spell, and catch up with folks.

While Aunt Rosemary is already with Jesus, it is my prayer that those of us she left behind would continue to honor her legacy of love for God, compassion, and hospitality. The world could use more people who live the quality life of character of my Aunt Rosemary.