Reaching Orphans with the Arts: The Joshua Blueprint (Kenya)

Have you ever taken the time to get a picture of what happens in the throne room of God when we worship Him? What does it look like for God to be enthroned on the praises of His people? How does He respond when the fragrance of worship begins to flood His courts? What does it mean for His heart to be ravished by the mere glance of our eyes? Let me just start by challenging you to pause for a second and imagine this reality before we continue. Really personalize this and take the time to get a vision of how much your worship means to God; how much it moves Him.

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Now, imagine this with me. Orphans, the ones constantly mentioned throughout the Bible for being of utmost importance to the heart of God, worshipping. We have already gotten a clear picture of how much God loves worship from us, but can you imagine how much the sight and sound of the dejected little ones of the world truly worshipping God wrecks His heart? I can’t even begin to fathom.

Yet, that is what The Joshua Blueprint – a community-based ministry in Kitale, Kenya – is seeking to discover. We want to see what will happen to this small town and even the entire nation when we raise up orphans as worshippers. Our program teaches first and foremost what it means to live the lifestyle of a worshipper, to make their lives a living sacrifice unto the Lord, and then we use visual and performing arts to call forth the talents God has hidden deep within them. Through our dance, vocal, music (guitar, keyboard, and drums), drama and art classes we are able to share God’s heart with them and give them an avenue to share their heart with Him.

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Kitale, a Place of Refuge

Kitale is one of many towns in Kenya that is known for its large population of street children. These are children who have either been abandoned by their families (either through death or neglect) or they are children who left home to find greener pastures. Most of these kids hail from one of two tribes, the Pokot and the Turkana. For both tribes, there are major issues with drought, poverty and war. The Pokot and Turkana have also fought each other over cattle and land for many years, and considering they both are warrior tribes, the battles can get pretty bloody. So many people end up fleeing to Kitale, the closest city to both territories, for refuge.

Kitale town is small, but it is saturated with children’s homes. There are some awesome programs here for the kids, but they’re only able to cover the basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, and education). It’s very difficult for them provide many extracurricular activities for the children. That was what attracted us to come here. When Ray and I first got married, we lived in Nairobi (Kenya’s capital city). For the first year of marriage we had committed to spend every Sunday praying and dreaming about what God would have us do here. At the end of the year He gave us the vision for the Joshua Blueprint. After some divine connections with three different sources, we were led to move to Kitale.

God connected us with our first children’s home during one of our initial scouting trips, and as soon as we moved to Kitale we began working with a small group of students from Mattaw Children’s Village. Over the past few years the Lord has increased our reach, and we now work with about 75 children from four children’s homes (Mercy Rescue Trust, Kenya Church of Christ Children’s Home, and Seeds Children’s Home). In the beginning, we were traveling from one orphanage to the next to teach, but that became less and less feasible as we began to add more kids into the program. Thankfully, God has blessed us this year to be able to rent a facility that we’re in the process of renovating, where all of our students can come together for classes.

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We currently have three of the four organizations together every Saturday, and the fourth group we teach separately. We’ll transition them into the large group early next year. As we get into a routine with the students, we’ll open the facility to the general community so that anyone, whether child or adult, rich or poor can come and participate in weekly classes or the workshops we’ll put on with teams from America over the holidays. Aside from that, we will also be doing street ministry, where student-led teams will go into the slums and side streets of Kitale, where many of them were once rescued, and share the gospel in their own unique ways.

With Their Own Voices

I would love to share testimonies from the kids, but I believe part of the value of what we do is to give these kids an artistic means with which to share their own stories; to express their hearts and tell the world what God has done in their lives. As missionaries, we often assume the responsibility of sharing other peoples’ testimonies, but there is nothing as powerful as hearing the direct impact of God’s influence on someone’s life from their own mouth. Viona is one of our dance and drama students from Mattaw Children’s Village. In this video, she tells her story through dance and a spoken word piece she wrote.

Each student has their own story of how the arts have either helped them to discover something new about their identity in Christ, heal them from past trauma, embolden them to share the Gospel in new ways, and much more. We’re just at the beginning of stepping into God’s vision for these children, and we know that as we continue creating together, God is going to produce something so beautiful that the world will be just as wrecked as their Father God is.

Partnership with We Are the Vigilant

We are so happy to be able to partner with We Are the Vigilant in this endeavor and with any of you that may feel led to join us. We are always looking for teams to come out and lead workshops on worship, the arts, sustainability, and more. Any time we connect with similar-minded creatives about this project, we feel this gust of fresh wind push us a little closer to the fullness of what God has in store for this ministry. Speaking to Matt and Casey about partnering together was no exception. Thank you both for allowing us this space to share our hearts and welcome to the family!

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