Above, Steve James with a group of children at the Kenya Relief compound.
December 2018 – Steve James’s love for Kenya bubbles up through animated words and gestures. His passion for the east Africa nation is as vibrant and verdant as the grass-green walls of his office, which are covered with African memorabilia. But more than collecting souvenirs and keepsakes, James devotes his time, talents, and heart ministering to Kenyans who live a world away from his home in Cullman, Alabama.
James told AFA Journal that when his 19-year-old daughter Brittney died unexpectedly in 2001, he decided to continue supporting Newton, the Kenyan child Brittney had been sponsoring for several years through Christian Children’s Fund.
Healing for the hopeless
“In America, we sometimes don’t realize the majority of people in the world are crying out for help,” James explained. “I would have never known any better if I hadn’t lost my daughter. But Brittney could see beyond herself. She had that global pull.”
Her global pull compelled James to fulfill his daughter’s dream of visiting Kenya and meeting Newton. As a certified nurse anesthetist, James naturally joined a medical mission team on his first Kenyan journey.
For James, that journey birthed a lifelong ministry he appropriately named Kenya Relief. Seventeen years later, he has led 70 medical mission teams into western Kenya near Migori.
Through Kenya Relief, medical professionals donate time and skills to people who might otherwise never have any medical care. The procedures and treatments they receive are as varied as the doctors and nurses performing them, from simple immunizations to complicated surgeries.
“On these trips, I have seen children who were blind see again,” declared James. “I have seen people who were crippled walk. I have seen tumors excised. And I have seen orphans who were living in squalor given hope.”
As part of giving back, Kenya Relief built Brase Clinic and Vision Center, providing an onsite licensed nurse practitioner and other full-time staff, with plans for an additional 30-bed inpatient hospital. Over 300 medical missionaries visit the clinic yearly, serving 1,000 patients.
Home for the homeless
James proudly discussed many projects taking place on Kenya Relief’s 60-acre compound, but his eyes softened and his tone intensified when talking about the orphanage built to honor his daughter.
Brittney’s Home of Grace provides 200 orphans with shelter, stability, and love. Kids at BHOG also attend church regularly and get a quality education at Kenya Relief Academy, alongside 400 other local children.
Kenya Relief constructed a 1,200-seat school cafeteria that offers a gathering place for local and even national events. In fact, Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has visited there more than once. She helped Kenya Relief distribute three-wheeled, hand-pedaled mobility vehicles to 200 severely disabled Kenyans, some who had moved only by crawling or walking on all four limbs.
For James, this and all other outreaches at Kenya Relief involve a two-fold mission of giving and receiving hope.
“Kenya Relief helps provide the kind of health care that every human being deserves,” said James. “And we help people realize the reason God has blessed some of us is so we can give back to other people.”
As James has learned firsthand, those who travel to Kenya planning to give relief and hope are sometimes the ones who receive the most. James said he is deeply moved by “seeing Americans and Europeans begin to take their lives more seriously. They come back from these trips more appreciative, and they realize they need to be giving back.”
▶ Pray for Kenya Relief’s impact.
▶ Serve on a KR team – medical, evangelistic, educational, construction, and more.
▶ Sponsor a Kenyan child at Brittney’s Home of Grace.
▶ Learn more at kenyarelief.org or 888-605-3692.