Kenya (MNN) — A new book highlights the life-changing work of a couple serving with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) in Kenya.
According to Steve Peifer, the book's author, readers might be in for a surprise.
"There are sad parts in the book, but [also] things that you might not associate with missionaries, like junior high gas," states Peifer, laughing.
You'll have to read the book to see what that's all about, but it mostly covers Steve's and his wife Nancy's work in Kenya.
Peifer says, "I was a really unlikely candidate to go on the mission field."
He was much more inclined to corporate management, where he once oversaw 9,000 computer software consultants. But everything changed for the Peifers after the tragic loss of their infant son, Stephen.
"After you lose a kid, everything kind of goes back on the table," says Peifer. "And I felt like the Lord told me in the quiet time, 'Make your wife's dream come true.'"
Steve says Nancy had wanted to be a missionary her whole life, and she had a passion for Africa. When friends serving with AIM at the Rift Valley Academy visited the couple, more pieces seemed to fall into place.
The Peifers' friends showed them an informational video and invited Steve and Nancy to come spend a year in Kenya. Steve agreed, but he says Nancy had a slightly unexpected reaction after their missionary friends left.
"My wife is the nicest human in the planet; when she walks outside in the morning, birds fly to her fingers and little children dance around her," Peifer says.
He continues jokingly with a laugh, "But when our friends left, she grabbed me by the throat and said, 'Don't play with me!'"
Upon arriving in Kenya for their short-term mission assignment, Steve and Nancy found a "niche" in community outreach. Steve vividly recalls one of their visits to a nearby school, where all of the children were laying on the ground.
"I asked the headmaster, 'What's going on?' She said, 'Well, it's Thursday, and they haven't eaten since Monday. And when they sit up straight, they faint,'" he recounts.
"That kind of changed everything for me."
When the Peifers returned to Kenya in 2001, they worked alongside local schools to begin a feeding program.
"Our deal with the schools is 'I'll bring the food, you've got to prepare it; you can't charge the kids, and I get to share the Lord whenever I feel like it'," states Steve.
Today, the Peifers' program works with 35 schools and feeds 20,000 children.
"The introduction of food has made a huge difference in terms of how they perform academically," says Steve. "The drop-out rate used to be 50% in those schools, and there's virtually no one dropping out now; they stay for the food."
Students are also scoring higher on standardized national tests and facing brighter futures thanks to another Peifer addition: solar-powered computer labs.
"We got old shipping containers and gutted them, and put solar in. We had 20 of those operational," says Steve.
It's all part of a bigger mission.
"If we can get a generation through high school with proper nutrition and learning technology, and they know Jesus is the One responsible for it happening, that's when we really impact the country," Steve says.
Steve and Nancy's book, "A Dream So Big," highlights how God used the couple to orchestrate change for kids in Kenya. From each of its chapters, Steve says a central theme arises: "God longs to be strong in our weakness."
Click here to see the book's profile on Amazon. But, says Steve, don't read it unless God has called you to read it.
"I'm happiest when somebody comes up to me and says in a polite, Christiany way, 'Wow, if a schmuck like you can accomplish that, imagine what I could do!'" he says with a laugh. "I really want that to be my story.
"I hope people read it and go, 'Wow, our God is good!"
Don't forget to pray for Kenya.
"Praying for Kenyans should come out of your relationship with the Lord," says Steve. "As you seek Him to pray for them, He's going to identify things that are exciting to you, [so] that you can be passionate about praying.
"It may be that He leads you to pray for missionaries on the field that you know. It may be your heart is for communities to get fresh water, or little kids to be educated.
"Whatever your ministry is, leave room for calling out to the Lord that we don't forget kids that are in such need," Steve implores.
"Don't make peace with the fact that there are hungry kids."