The Story

I’m going on 5 years in Kenya (not including the additional one year of preparation) and what a journey it’s been. When I first came to Kenya I was on a team called “Kenya Initiative”. It’s possible some of you met me on our crazy adventure across the US in a van raising support for our project through auctions, dinners, speaking engagements, and mostly 5k races.

Within one year our team had dwindled down in size, and eventually our mission shifted from a community-development-based  to almost entirely spiritually-based ministry. The focus moved from business development and micro loans, school sponsorship, and community farming and water projects to  things like discipleship classes, outreach, and Bible studies. We felt the need to “rebrand,” if that’s what you want to call it, so we went from “Kenya Initiative” to “61project.”

During this time, I was serving under an organization called Adventures in Missions. The same organization that I had previously gone on the World Race with. 61project operated under the Adventures in Missions umbrella for 3 years – until August of 2015.

This past December, I decided to transition myself and the ministry under Oasis for Orphans. The vision of Oasis is to “rescue and develop every vulnerable orphan in southwest Kenya.” That’s about 100,000 children. What Oasis is doing within their ministry sites was quite similar to what I was doing here in Maai Mahiu… but on a larger scale.

By joining Oasis and becoming a “Site Mentor” I will now be ministering to staff and children at two different locations  – Maai Mahiu and The Valley. I’m also working with Oasis in creating and implementing holistic development curriculum as well as assisting in new site development. We consider and develop programs to help with educational, spiritual, emotional, and physical needs as well as empowering and working with the orphans’ families (there are sometimes cases when an orphan has a living grandparent, aunt or uncle, or other person who is technically his or her guardian) through reading plans, tutoring, discipleship, Bible studies, conferences, and more. The need for orphan care is constantly changing and growing and I am helping identify future site locations, staff, and leaders for the care of these orphans.

IMG_2188This all means I will be traveling more than I have been since being in Kenya, but I’ve been blessed with a pretty awesome staff that is doing a wonderful job with our kids here in Maai Mahiu. I’ll be splitting time pretty evenly between the two locations.

So what does this mean for 61project? Well, for the ministry – nothing, we’re continuing as usual, developing kids spiritually and educationally through after-school and weekend programs. As for the name – we are now fully under Oasis and are dropping any other name. All donations for the ongoing ministry in Maai Mahiu will be made through the Oasis for Orphans website. Consistent and substantial financial support is needed just as much now as it has been in the past few years. I do not receive a salary from Oasis  – I am a missionary who is supported wholly by faithful donors from afar. Food, clothing, medical costs, rent, ministry supplies and program costs, staff support, and much more more are all funded by those of you who believe in what the Lord has me doing here in southwest Kenya.

In other words, I have to raise 100% of the money needed to fund everything going on in my “personal ministry” – that is, everything we are doing in Maai Mahiu. This includes support for 8 children in guardian care (school fees, food, housing, medical costs, etc); 10 staff members; after school programs (books, study materials, pens, pencils, etc); rent for the ministry site; and more. Those who generously give each month are not only supporting the work being done in the community of Maai Mahiu, but also are helping to provide for me and my family of five.

IMG_3269I am humbled and grateful for your support. Please continue to spread the word about what we are doing to make disciples and share the Gospel. If you have questions about what is going on in Maai Mahiu, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can email
me or Julia Price (stateside admin) and we’ll be happy to answers any questions you may have.

I hope this clears up any potential misunderstandings or questions. I am so thankful for all of you who have been with me on this journey! Here’s to 50 more years (and no more name changes).


If you would like to set up a monthly pledge to help support the ministry and my family in Kenya, please click here.

 

 

It’s Time to Make Time

Yesterday I met a kid named Tony. Tony is eleven years old and had gone with his mother to visit his older brother in boarding school where I was, visiting Ken. Ken has recently fallen in love with basketball, so we were out on the court practicing when Tony walked up but was safely watching from a bit of a distance. I called him over, inviting him to play with us.160321_2_MattPatchKenyaMissions

I would just like to point out that most Kenyans play soccer and basketball is a foreign concept.

Tony was no different than most Kenyans, but after a little help he started to hit some shots. A shot going in or out didn’t matter to him, but I noticed anything that I would say did matter. “Good shot” and his eyes would light up… “Almost” and he’d smile… “Whoa! You missed that one bad!” and he’d laugh.

More and more kids came out and soon we had 5 on 5 and I was watching. As they’d play I’d stop them and give advice. Tony would be quick to run up and listen intently on what I was saying often commenting what a “sweet game” this was.

160321_4_MattPatchKenyaMissionsWhen I showed him where to play and his “invisible triangle” to stay in, he responded excitedly “so, I’m a midfielder!” to which I said “Actually, n- … well, sure – you’re a midfielder!”

Tony stayed in that triangle the rest of the day and became the best midfielder to ever play the game of basketball…despite having more turnovers and missed shots than assists or points.

Today, Tony had fun.
Today, Tony got attention.
Today, Tony felt loved and valued.

And sometimes… that’s all that matters.

Will you join me in making time for someone this week? No preaching. No motives. Just time.

“You will never find time for anything. You must make time.”
Charles Buxton

Sacrifice is Hard

I am trying to be a bit more vulnerable in my blogs. I want you to know more about what life is really like in Kenya. Well, my life anyway.

I love my new role with Oasis for Orphans. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me to grow in both my strengths and weaknesses as well as to expand my ministry tremendously. The new relationships I’ve built with the kids, staff, and leadership is really something special.

But with every new journey in life comes sacrifice… and sacrifice is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. And it doesn’t always benefit the people we love and care about the most. Ask my parents or my brother or my sister.

Just as I left my family & friends for Ken61workingya, I’m now leaving my boys for “work.” At least that’s how they see it.

I got a call Sunday night as I was working about 300 kilometers from home. I had been gone for a few days. One of my boys had left… as in, ran away. On my wardrobe he left a note that read:

“For my dad, (Thank you) Matt for everything that you have done for me and my family. I think it is time for me to live with my family. And God bless you so much. I love Dad. I will miss you so much Dad. Please don’t worry about me and please take care of the family. Tell (the other boys) I love them. My mom will be with me. Please I am going to leave for good. Maybe I will come to visit the boys. I LOVE DAD. I know you love me as your son. I love you as my dad. I will miss you every day.”

I was devastated.

I didn’t sleep and left before the sun rose to get back home. The drive was long but I could use the time to think. Why would he leave? I’d do anything for this kid. Does he not love or care about me? Was I being selfish? I feel selfish. But I think I have a right to feel selfish… this is my boy.

My thoughts were like punches I couldn’t get away from. They were exhausting.

Wait… God was trying to speak to me through the insanity.

Why are you here? Why did I send you? To rescue and restore. That’s the Father’s vision for these kids… even mine.

hen I got home he was there with his mom. I was a mess and asked if they could please come back later. I was glad he was okay but I had a decision made that I needed to come to terms with.

If your mom is ready to take you and you’re ready to go then I have to bless this and know that my work is done…

With every new journey comes sacrifice… and sacrifice is hard.

When I invited them back to the house I simply was in a place where I was reciting what I knew I had to say. It didn’t feel right… it didn’t feel good… but it was right, and it was good…  so I did it.

MattandBoysThere’s no perfect ending to this story. At the end of the day my boy, my son, was dealt a shit hand at life in a broken world and whatever road we turned down at this point he was being forced into making sacrifices he didn’t choose to make.

I guess you could say it worked out in my favor. His mom is not ready or able to bring him back. And for him, it wasn’t really what he wanted either.

It turns out it isn’t who he needed… me or his mom. It’s what he needed. Love. Attention. Time. With my life suddenly becoming more busy I had neglected him. Whether intentional or not – he lost some prioritization. All of a sudden it was just a reminder of everyone else who had come along then left him… so he did what he and many other children in his position have learned to do, run.

For me… I must become intentional. I have to put my phone down when I’m home. When he and the other boys walk in that door – work is over.

For him… this is what I told him. You are special. We have something that is unique and it’ll never ever ever change. I am here because of you… You’re irreplaceable. You’ll never understand how much I love you. That being said… there are 2.4 million other kids out there who need us. They’re a lot like you used to be. I need you to make a sacrifice for them. I need you to show them that they too can be loved and are worth being loved. I need you to show them hope.

In a perfect world these kids… all of these kids who I get to love, educate, empower, and restore will be reunited with their biological families. I hope that’s the case… even for my boys.

Until that day comes its my job, along with all followers of Christ, to care for orphans and vulnerable children.

“The church absolutely MUST be the leading way in orphan care. It’s not negotiable; it flows from the reality of the gospel.” – David Platt


If you’d like to be a part of rescuing and developing orphaned children, click here.

Learn more about Oasis for Orphans by clicking here.

The Stay at Home Mom

IMG_2292You’ve probably heard the old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child…”  This proverb is very close to my heart in so many ways. In Kenya so many of us are working together to raise and impact the lives of 50+ kids on a daily basis. But it probably doesn’t look like what you think it does…

I kinda love that so many people are confused on who or what we are/do. They can’t put their finger on it:) Some would say that’s not a good thing, while I on the other hand think it’s a wonderful thing. Are we a children’s home – absolutely not. Do we care for kids, provide shelter, warm meals, and love – yes. What about a school? Well, we do provide education and after school programs that include tutoring in all subjects, but no, we aren’t a school. We partner with top local schools and send our children there.

Are you a church or bible training institution? Well we like to say we are THE church and we do offer Bible “training” but it looks more like worship, community service, and relationship building than tests and class time – although there are multiple classes offered each week.

But you’re a missionary, so you just go around preaching the gospel, right? Actually more of my days look like grocery shopping, paying school fees, parent teacher conferences, resolving conflict, hospital and doctor visits, fixing things like the car or broken water pipes, and the list goes on and on.

Maybe I’m closer to a stay at home mom than your typical idea of a missionary.

*The moms are currently sympathizing with me while the single dudes are probably wondering why they would support someone who doesn’t do anything…

But the truth is I’m not alone at all. I have a wonderful team around me that makes our ministry happen on a day to day basis. They’re more than my “village” – they’re my family.

So when you support our ministry know that the little it takes to support this ministry is empowering ten “stay at home moms” to love, care for, and raise 50+ children on a daily basis.

And also know, that YOU are a part of our village and we need you to help raise these children. Every cent that comes in makes an impact on us! Would you consider becoming a monthly supporter of this ministry?

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I haven’t posted a blog in some time and I thought what better way is there to send a Christmas card from Kenya than on a blog. I’m also thinking about praying about committing to a New Years Resolution of blogging again… but we’ll see.       : )

Christmas is a bit like a snowy version of Thanksgiving. It just seems like a time to be thankful. So the boys and I would like to share some of the things we are thankful for…

61project Matt Patch
Martin: “I am thankful that I don’t get in trouble at school… a lot. And also for Christmas and being able to be with family.”
61project Matt Match
Joseph: “I am thankful for my bicycle and having fun.”
61project Matt Patch
Ken: “I am thankful that I have a nice home and a new phone. I am glad I get to hang out with Mary and the other kids who come to play.”
61project Mat Patch
Simon: “I am thankful that I am able to go to school, having a good family that takes care of me, my bike, and happy days everyday.”
61project Matt Patch
Matt: “I can’t begin to explain everything that I am thankful for. From the tangible things like a new reliable vehicle or a new bike to ride with the boys to the people whom I get to do life with each and every day. The family that I’ve been given here in Kenya who push me each and every day to look more like Christ and the friends and family I have at home who keep me here in Kenya through so many prayers and a lot of support. I literally can’t thank you enough.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Seriously, it’s 1:00 AM and I need to go to sleep.

 


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I Want To Be A Good Man

61project

school

The day was winding down when Boniface, a skinny little fella probably around 12 years old came into my house and looked me into the eyes and with a humble yet demanding tone said, “Matthew, I’m here to speak with you. I want to be a good man and I can do that by going to school. I don’t want to go to [the government school] either. I want to go to a good school so that I can really learn and become a good man one day.”

I asked him “Why don’t you go to school then?”

“My mom works all day at a [restaurant] and cannot pay the fees. So I can’t go. Matthew, I want to be a good man. I can do really well if I have a chance.”

(The average worker makes around a couple dollars a day)

I encouraged Boniface that regardless of his…

View original post 355 more words

A Lesson From a Child

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I used to be a child who learned from adults. Now, as an adult and I find myself learning from children.
Most recently I learned a little bit about giving. Wait! Stop! Don’t exit out! This isn’t a fundraiser that’s going to attempt to convince you into giving to 61, your church, or anything else – that’s not what this is about (that blog will be out next week).
Twice a year we do vacations. We started this to keep our team sane and to get away from our 24/7 outpouring in order to get some rest. Now, it’s a little of that, but also it’s a time to take the boys to see and experience their beautiful country.
This past week we took them to the coast. They’d never seen the ocean and can’t really swim – so I was full of excitement as well as “What am I doing?” thoughts.
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Before we left I emptied out a jar that I always put my change in from that day. I had the boys count it, divide it equally among the three of them, and then explained that this was their spending money for the week. They were responsible for keeping track of it, and it had to last the whole week. They were pumped to have some money in their pocket!
It was time to go.
The ten hour drive wasn’t that bad. Besides the one puking incident in which I was prepared for with bags strategically placed within the car and the  reoccurring “Are we there yet” question that legitimately started 45 minutes into the trip and was reworded and asked every 15-20 minutes from then on – it was a great drive!
We arrive.
The first day we of course went out to the beach. It was hot- so hot that the boys were getting holes burnt in their pockets. I laughed and shook my head as I watched Martin go and start spending his money within 15 minutes of a weeklong trip.
As I shook my head and told the other boys to be more wise with their money and save it, Martin comes running back with a big smile on his face. I quickly tell him he’s going to spend all of his money and regret it.
He just looked at me and said “I bought this for you (hands me a necklace). Thank you for taking care of us.”
A sandy size 13 foot doesn’t taste so good.
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The week goes on and we had an amazing time. Within a few days the boys were diving for coins in the deep end of the pool and riding the waves. We took a boat out and found shells and starfish (which I made them throw back- don’t hate, they’re living creatures). They had an absolute blast. My favorite things were ice cold drinks and ice cream.
Fast forward to when we get home.
We get back and the boys quickly show off their prized shells (some of which they bought and the others that we found) and as the onlookers attempt to hand them back the boys simply say “they’re for you”. I started to jump in to tell them to not give all of their stuff away- but why? I was convicted right then and there.
It’s in our nature to give. Trust me, I wish I had taught these boys to live like this. It’s a full-time job for me to make sure they don’t give the shoes they’re wearing and the shirt off their back away to the kids in the neighborhood.
Every time I hand them something, the first thing out of their mouth is “can I share with —–“.
I know. I’m bragging. I love these kids, because of who they are and because of who they challenge me to be.
The world tells us differently and somewhere down the line we are told to give what little we can to make us feel good.
Their most prized possession is who they are with, and everything else is just stuff. Growing up shouldn’t mean losing our nature to give freely and love deeply.
This makes me miss the boys, so I am going to hang out with them now. But I hope they challenge you too!