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Crusaders travel to Kenya to deliver Christmas gifts

January 19, 2016

Christmas is a time for giving, and several Crusader student-athletes took that to heart this past month.

Inspired by their coaches, Jake and Jenny Perry, seven current student-athletes — Rebecca Hook, Emily Merioles, Jadyn Gourley, Josephine Lonai, Amy Wheeler, Isaac Mitchell and David Waterman — and Northwest Nazarene alumnus Ashley Puga, volunteered their time to help Sean and Meredith Stewart with One 5 Ministries, and Andy and Jamie Fehr with Wordsower International.

As volunteers for One 5 Ministries and Wordsower International, the group of 10 Crusaders traveled halfway around the world to Kenya to lead running camps for more than 400 orphans and children living on the street, and share God’s word.

“We fell in love with the people of Kenya and the work being done there, and extended an offer to our cross country athletes to join us on our next adventure,” said Jake Perry, who with his wife Jenny, has now made two such trips to Kenya in the past year.

“I returned to the United States with the realization that I had been more impacted than anyone I had the opportunity of meeting.”
Merioles, a junior from Valdez, Alaska, said of the experience: “I never thought it’d be possible that a nation with such poverty could contain so much joy, contentment, love, and happiness. Their faith changed my life far more than I could have ever impacted theirs.

“Even though the majority of people we worked with have very little to nothing, they are the richest people I’ve ever met, and for that this trip was life changing,” Emily added.

The Crusaders left on Dec. 6 and spent 25 hours traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, then went by small plane to Eldoret to meet Godfrey Kimboi, who took the group to Iten where NNU’s runners put on six running camps for different orphanages and one street-boy ministry.

“The team did a great job putting on the running camps; it was a blessing for me to watch them interact and show God’s love to the people there,” Coach Perry said.

Mitchell, Waterman, Hook and Wheeler also spent a day helping at a medical clinic and received first-hand experience treating malaria, while the entire Crusader contingency also delivered meals to widows and grandmas — some raising as many as six grandchildren in small, 12 foot by 20 foot hunts — and did some painting and other tasks at a new children’s home, Mercy Rescue.

“I traveled to Kenya on this mission trip with the intention of impacting those I met for Christ,” said Mitchell, a sophomore from Sandy, Ore. “I returned to the United States with the realization that I had been more impacted than anyone I had the opportunity of meeting.

“I will be coming back to NNU with a fresh perspective and a changed faith.”

Along with devoting their time and love to the children of Kenya, the group also brought medical supplies for the clinics in Kit ale and the Samaritan’s Purse hospital in Kapsowar, along with 150 pairs of “The Shoe That Grows” to distribute.

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