Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Old blog post: "God already left Africa"
Catchy title, huh? I've never seen the movie, but this is a quote from the Bruce Willis movie, Tears of the Sun. Before I left for Kenya someone at work made mention of this quote to me. It was brought up again when I came back nearly 2 weeks ago. I've been meaning to write this since then. I've been putting it off for a few reasons. One reason is that writing this means that the adventure is over, and to be honest, I wish it wasn't over yet. Since I've been back I just haven't felt the same. It's not the same as I felt after my first trip. I was able to bounce back into life here in the US much easier. There was something different about this trip though. I truly felt at home in Kenya. I didn't feel fear once I got there. Everything just felt so perfect. During the shuttle ride to Nairobi to leave Kenya I cried most of the way. I cried because I knew that when I was coming back home to could never allow me to feel as alive as I did in Kenya. I cried because I didn't know when I could be going back again. I cried because I knew that so many people back here at home simply don't care. Sure, everybody wants to "hear about Kenya". But what does that really mean? What I find most people (surely not all) want to know is how the food was; how the weather was; how the flight was; what kind of animals there are. I'm not saying that these are bad questions. In fact, I think that they are very normal questions. But there is so much more! There are so many amazing people to talk about! There are some truly amazing things happening in Kenya! Yet it seems that most people don't want to know the deep things. They don't care about the people in Kenya nearly as much as they care about the food they eat. For me, I'd so much rather have a deep conversation about the people. About things that Kenyans struggle with. About the hope that exists and the change that is emerging throughout the land. I struggled with this for most of the last two weeks. Then I started taking my own advice that will show below.
So, has "God already left Africa"? To answer this, let's take a brief look at the Kenya that I saw. According to a BBC study there are about 32 million people living in Kenya. Nearly 52% of them live on less than one US dollar per day. Almost 1.1 million adults live with HIV/AIDS (not to mention the children). The average life expectancy is 45 years old. There are an estimate 400,000 children living on the streets through out Kenya. Many of these children living on the streets become addicted to sniffing glue. Why? It kills the hunger pangs that they feel. It keeps them warm at night as temperatures drop. young girls (many not even in their teen years yet) turn to prostitution to earn a living. Orphanages exist that house upwards of 70+ abandoned children. Kenya is a country where corruption and violence are tools to advance financially and politically. This is a land where poverty and disease can be seen at every turn.
But to say that "God has already left Africa" couldn't be farther from the truth! While the above paragraph paints a dark image, there is so much more! You see, we have a choice to make. Are we going to focus on the negative or are we going to look for the good? Are we going to give up on the situation in Kenya or are we going to look and see hope? Believe me when I say that there is hope! The corruption is being cracked down on. 3 days ago the mayor of Nairobi was arrested and has since stepped down from office on corruption charges. Police officers are being arrested for the role in corruption and violence. I sat and talked with a local Kenyan man who raises 20+ orphaned children - in addition to his own! When you visit this man it is impossible to tell which kids are his biological kids and which are orphans because he treats them all with the same level of respect and love that they deserve. This man does not get any aid from the government to do this. He takes children into his home, feeds them and loves them because he believes that it is the right thing to do. This is the same man who recently marched fearlessly into the children's ministry and demanded that they stop abusing children and start taking care of them like they're supposed to (this in itself could be an entire story here). This is not a man who will end there either. This Kenyan man is one who will see this fight through to the end. And things will change. He will not accept defeat.
I saw girls who have been taken off of the streets and shown how to love themselves; that they matter and that they are important. They have been taught a trade and are being educated so that they can start a new life for themselves. I saw my little buddy Martin running around the Veronica Home as happy as can be! Martin, whom I met on my first trip last July, is a walking miracle! During the end of our trip Martin went to the hospital very sick. He is HIV Positive and came down with a bad case of the chicken pox. The doctors said that he wouldn't live through the night. Our team refused to accept that. We sat on the living room floor and prayed over this boy and claimed a miracle of healing in him. To go back to Kenya and hold little Martin in my arms and spin him around the yard is incredible! I held a living, walking, breathing miracle in my arms! In my arms was evidence that God has NOT left Africa, nor does he intend to! This is only one story of a miracle. There are countless more. Children miraculously healed of HIV/AIDS. Kids alive and well that were abandoned and left for dead. Children that are experiencing love and peace in their lives.
So, again, we can look at the darkness that is in the land of Kenya and be discouraged. OR, we can look as the hand of a loving God moves across that land. God certainly has not left Africa. He has not forgotten about His people there. He does not love them any less than He loves you and me.
To those who would believe that God has left Africa, I challenge you to visit there and I promise you that you will see the presence of God. Psalm 68:5 says "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy habitation." Go to Africa and that is the very God that you will encounter.
Thanks for taking time to read. Be blessed.
Psalm 68:5 says "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy habitation."