An Advocate Story – Kristy Kes
Kristy + Keith Kes have been faithful advocates for Hands at Work since 2009. Read about the journey God has brought them on as they live out their calling to be a voice to the voiceless in Africa.
I still remember the hues of vibrant rust colored dirt that coated my sandals as I looked down at my feet. I recall the blazing hot African sun beating down on my shoulders. I call to mind the enticing aroma of open air food cooking around me. Most of all I hold dear the sound of all the voices in unison singing praises to Jesus! Oh how I loved dancing with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we praised our Savior! Those beautiful memories still linger in our minds as if it were yesterday.
God had been stirring our hearts to serve, care for, and be a voice for the vulnerable long before Keith and I ever met. I knew as soon as I finished Nursing School I would go on a mission trip to Africa. After graduating college, I helped lead a trip to Kenya, followed by a subsequent mission trip to Kenya again two years later. Meanwhile, I was praying for the Lord to find me a husband who would have the same heart to serve on the mission field.
Keith grew up on a farm as a hardworking guy, who always adored helping others with a tender and giving heart. He had been praying about wanting to grow in his faith and live his life fully for Jesus. When we met, our very first conversation was about our faith in Jesus, mission work, serving and living abroad, and my asking him if he was willing to adopt one day! Needless to say, God was at already at work.
God, in all His graciousness and sovereignty, brought us to Hands at Work shortly after we were married. For two years, we had been planning a trip to Eastern Africa with friends, but just weeks before we were supposed to go, our friends could no longer go. We knew God still wanted us to go, and when we prayed, one of our friends connected us to Jed and Brooke Heubner, who volunteered with Hands At Work. Just weeks later, in March 2009, we went on our first mission trip with Hands. We spent three weeks in South Africa and Zambia. We fell in love – with the people, the Care Workers, the sense of community, the Biblical model Hands follows, and how God's mandate of caring for the orphaned and widowed is such a focus. We knew this trip was just the beginning of our journey with Hands. Looking back, we see this was exactly what the Lord had been planning for years!
But, things took a very different turn than expected – I became ill. We were able to do two mission trips together in the first years of our marriage, but my health continued to deteriorate. We found out I had Chronic Lyme Disease. I then had to quit my job as a nurse and would spend the next five years being mostly bedridden and extremely ill, which is where we are today. It has been the most heartbreaking and challenging time of our lives. We know, though, that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Our prayer has always been for God to use us and Jesus to be glorified in my illness and trials. Even though our hearts have longed to be in the mission field, and we ached to be able to adopt children, we have no doubt the Lord has used our situation for His glory. It is not about our plans; it is about His plans. We are simply here to be a light for Jesus, however He should choose to use us.
"We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand" – Isaiah 64:8
We will never give up praying and believing for my total healing, but until that day, we will praise Him in the waiting. It has brought us deep joy to be able to serve Him in many different capacities, including being advocates for Hands at Work. We have found such satisfying joy in being financial supporters, in giving encouragement to those who are serving with Hands, and interceding in prayer for the volunteers, Care Workers, and all the dear and precious ones Hands supports. We love telling stories of the work Hands is doing by encouraging our family, friends, and church community to also become supporters and advocates for Hands. We had the joy recently of having George (Hands at Work Co-Founder), Lynn (Hands Canada), and Brooke (Hands US) share at our church. Oh, what sweet encouragement it brings when we all fellowship together and focus on living out Jesus' plans for His people! It is a preview of what heaven will look like one day – all of God's people, from every tribe, tongue, and nation, praising His holy name!
Even through all these years of being so sick, so weak, and feeling like I have nothing to offer, Jesus has brought me strength and worked through me! Keith and I are proof that no matter how much you suffer, how downtrodden you may be, or how little you feel you have to give, if you give your broken self to our Abba, He will use you! Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Let us all humbly come to His feet and be willing to submit to His plans for us, even when they might not be what we had planned for ourselves.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." – 2 Corinthians 12:9
As the Hands at Work family, we all come together in our flaws and brokenness, asking the Father to use us. So if you are feeling like you have nothing to give, remember that we are simply a vessel for the glory of God, and if you are willing, He will use you!
You can make an impact wherever you are. Join us in seeking justice and being a voice to the voiceless.