On the Net
For more information on the Taylor’s move, or to make a donation, visit www.kwelimoyo.com.
Nearly 30 years ago, Steve Taylor made his first and only move.
The Forsyth County native packed up his things and carried them from his childhood home to his grandfather’s house next door.
He settled into the home with his reason for moving out, newlywed wife Donna.
This summer, the Taylors will make their first move together, from the only home they’ve known to their hearts’ home, in Kenya.
They’re making this move for the marriages of others.
After 11 years of traveling back and forth to Kenya, Steve and Donna Taylor will settle in the east African country as they teach the Biblical principles of marriage.
‘All the time’
When Steve Taylor steps off the bus in a Kenyan village, the waiting children greet him with “welcome home.”
His face and his family have become familiar to the locals since a first visit more than a decade ago with a missionary group.
“There’s a home feel to it for me,” Steve Taylor said. “It just feels right.”
His first visit, which he took without his family, had a great impact on him, and he felt a spiritual call to do something there.
A year later, Donna Taylor said her husband told her that what happened to him in Kenya “was not going away.”
The Taylors and their three children went back that next year on the first of many family trips.
The living conditions quickly struck Donna Taylor and her kids.
“Our lives are so drastically different,” she said. “[I wondered] how can this be right? How can they look at the same moon that we look at?”
Fear of violence, unsanitary villages and lack of necessities made the trips difficult at first for the American family to take in. The people they met, however, kept them coming back.
They’ve become emotionally connected to the people in the villages, especially the orphans and widows they often visit.
Their youngest son, Peter, looks like a Christmas tree when they arrive, Donna Taylor said, because all the children hang off of him.
In Kenya, she said, people are very “relational.” Spending time together ranks at the top of their priorities.
Time itself has little meaning, as church may start two hours later than announced or someone may not meet you until several hours after stated, Steve Taylor said. But the service will eventually start and a friend would wait days to see you.
A pastor in a Kenyan village told them: “You Americans, you have so many watches and no time. In Kenya, we have no watches, but all the time.”
The Taylors soon will have that freedom from the hands of time when they leave their Forsyth County home for one in Kenya this summer.
“We’re able to really connect people here that have a lot of resources that are good-hearted people that want to bless there,” Donna Taylor said.
Steve Taylor, who works at Browns Bridge Community Church, knew he had a calling in Kenya. Discovering what he was meant to do, however, evolved from an innocent question from a local.
The driver asked him how he got his wife to like him so much.
He replied that it’s because he’s good to her, takes care of her and loves her.
“They would [gasp] and be so surprised that he would say that out loud,” Donna Taylor said.
On the flip side, the women began asking her how she got her husband to love her so much, and she noticed an element of marriage missing in Kenya.
“In their culture, it’s just not taught or modeled,” Donna Taylor said. “The need is seen. They recognize that they’re missing something that you have, but nobody’s talking about it.”
That silence has begun to break from the Taylors’ visits, and the word has spread across the villages that an American couple has been helping marriages reignite.
With a hand on her husband’s knee, Donna Taylor explained that a Kenyan couple would never show that type of public affection.
A man doesn’t laugh at his wife’s jokes or compliment her, for fear of being portrayed as weak.
“They’re emotionally starving each other in their relationships,” she said. “They’re so estranged from each other, but you can get them to go back to when he caught my eye, when I fell in love with him.
“There is that emotion in their marriages. It’s just stifled almost immediately when they marry because of the cultural expectations.”
The Taylors have been working with others for years in America to repair their marriages, but the topic wasn’t one they expected to be called to teach in Kenya.
“We didn’t go looking for this. We were thinking, ‘Where are the hurting children? We’re going to love on them,’” said Donna Taylor, a former teacher at Coal Mountain Elementary.
“It’s just so beautiful how that’s not the subject we went over to talk about.”
As Christians, the two focus their efforts on the principles of marriage as taught in the Bible.
“Lord forbid, we’re not teaching the American way of marriage. We’re not trying to take this culture to them,” she said.
“That’s why we say the Biblical principles of marriage. In the Bible, it says, ‘Men, do not be harsh to the women, and wives, respect your husbands.’”
They already work with Christians in Kenya, so she said they’ll be able to point to the word of God in the book which they aspire to follow.
With the couple living in the villages, they’ll be able to model those teachings, and pass them on to other couples to lead by example, like a ripple effect, Donna Taylor said.
Their presence has been requested by several villages, including by a minister who has seen a positive change in his marriage based on advice from Steve Taylor.
He gave the minister simple tasks that at first seemed difficult for the man, like telling his wife she looked beautiful or that he loved her.
Steve Taylor said the man wrote him, “My wife has responded in ways that I did not know were possible. Our home is better because of it.
“Our people need this so much, but we need you here to live it out and be the example for people, not just use words, but be the example.”
‘Hearts … released’
The Taylors reached their decision to move to Kenya in early 2011, creating their ministry Kweli Moyo, which means “with a true heart” in Swahili.
They began by asking their three children — ages 24, 20 and 18 — if they would give them their blessings.
The oldest two, both college students, supported their parents’ decision and said they would come visit whenever they were able.
The youngest, Peter, a senior at North Forsyth High, said little as his father told him he’d get him prepared to go off to college.
Then, Steve Taylor thought to ask him if he’d like to go, and received an emphatic response.
Peter Taylor will travel with his parents and stay for one or two years before beginning college. His friendships with the children he’s met on previous trips to Kenya drew him in.
He’ll also document the trip by video, gaining experience in life and his passion of film.
“I’m looking for the adventure,” he said. “I like the idea of seeing the world more before I go back to school.”
As for his parents, Donna Taylor said the couple never planned to move to Africa to be missionaries, so it came as kind of a surprise that this is their life’s course.
Born and raised in Forsyth County, they attended high school together, but didn’t start dating until she was in college.
“I called her twice when we were in high school, but got a ‘no’ because she was dating somebody,” Steve Taylor. “I thought I have one more shot at this.”
That time, she said yes. One year after the first date, the couple married.
“We just knew it was right,” said Donna Taylor, much like their plans to pursue full-time missionary work.
The mission and their time in Kenya have no time limit, but they anticipate living there for at least three to five years before determining the next step.
Of course, they’ll return home for visits and keep in touch with family through the Internet and phone.
But the house they’ve known for 30 years will be sold and won’t be the center of family activities any longer.
Steve Taylor said the possessions he’ll retain will fit in the bed of a pickup truck.
“The things that we’ve become accustomed to are things, stuff,” he said. “But now, the Lord’s done such a huge change in our life to see — it’s just stuff. Our hearts have been released from this house.”
His heart’s new home is symbolized on his arm.
Six metal bracelets signify all but one of his trips to Kenya. The seventh is around the wrist of a young girl in a village there.
Soon, he will add an eighth, and it may be the last.