The dictionary defines Bravery as “having or showing the moral or mental strength to face difficulty, danger or fear”.
The amount of Danger, Difficulty, Fear…students in Kenya may face is immense…36% of the country lives below the poverty line of $1.90 a day… only 50% of students in Kenya complete high school, and there is a 42% unemployment rate. Danger. Difficultly. Fear…and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In a context like theirs, it takes bravery just to hope and believe that there could be a different future for them. It’s BRAVE to believe that you can become more than the generation before you and that you can LEAD people to a place of abundance that you haven’t even seen yourself before…to believe that you can make a difference in the world.
I have seen this Bravery to hope and believe not just in our students but also in their parents, in our staff in Kenya, in the US team, and in our donors and sponsors. We have all been challenged to build our bravery as we have followed God in this journey.
Where it all started
8 years ago in December 2013 – we held the very first fundraiser for Canopy Life. We didn’t even have a name yet, but at that point, I had already been on this journey to Canopy Life for 10 years. A 6 month trip to Kenya in 2003 where I fell in love with the people, 5 years serving with the Daraja Children’s Choir of Africa and dreaming with Kenyan friends about how to make a deeper impact on the lives of children, 8 months in 2012 living in Nairobi for research and development… and years upon years of waiting for the right time, the right support, and the right doors to open…. all culminating at this first event in December of 2013 where we would cast the vision.
At that point, I still felt brave… even though I had to overcome various difficulties and lots of personal fear just to get to the starting line…
…and then came the moments of actual bravery
I had no idea then that the real moments… the moments of actual bravery— were the ones of difficulty and danger that we had yet to face. Like in 2015 and 2016 – when we were not sure where the money was going to come from to continue the work. Or in 2017- when we encountered our first actual danger….corruption and hostilities in our neighborhood, which meant sending the children to a partner school while we prayed through where and how to resume our ministry safely. Or in December of that same year – when we had to raise more money than we’d ever raised before in order to buy land and build our first building…a safe place where our students could thrive.
Or MAYBE It was in 2018, when we navigated unbelievable difficulties in our first international building project, and just as that project was ending, realizing that our neighbor was planning to extort us for using his water well. We hit 2020….and COVID exploded. We were faced with the difficulties of doing virtual learning in the villages with our students, the fear of losing funding and the very real danger of an unprecedented pandemic.
Sometimes I look back an I think… how did we make it. How did each increasing danger, fear or difficulty not put us down. Because the truth is, at no point in this journey did I feel brave. I would venture to say that most of my friends would’ve called me a “hot mess”.
Thankfully, Brave is not a feeling. It is a choice.
And I have learned that at the very heart of Bravery is Trusting in something that keeps you moving. The stronger that “Something” is, the stronger your trust, and the more “brave” you are. For me and for Canopy Life, we trust in a loving, almighty God.
We Trust that He is in it.
We Trust that He is with us..
We Trust that He is bigger than what we face.
And we Trust that He is Faithful.
In each and everyone of these circumstances for bravery, He proved Himself true. He brought in every penny we needed in those early years, from the most unlikely of places and just in time. In 2017, He protected us from those who’s intent it was to harm us and shut us down. We raised the $300,000 we needed to launch our campus. He sustained us through an international building project. In a single day, Giving Tuesday 2018, He provided the $20,000 we needed to provide water for our students. He not only protected us during 2020 and the COVID pandemic, but our students and programs are thriving!
And THAT is what we are instilling in our students: Yes, we provide them a safe nurturing home, an innovation program to cultivate their critical thinking and hard skills, and counseling for their past trauma. But at the very core, we remind them that they can Trust in a Faithful God.
An invitation to be Brave
This Bravery isn’t just us, but for you too, whoever may be reading this. We encourage and pray for your personal bravery as you face different seasons in your life, as you take risks, and jump into the unknown. We are right beside you, waking up each day, choosing to Trust as we BUILD BRAVE in our lives!
Christi Gordy, Founder and Director of Canopy Life