I’m not sure where all of this is leading us, but Bruce (my husband) and I are restless. We can’t pretend we never saw the need. We can’t pretend there isn’t STILL a need. We can’t ignore the 26,000 children who will die today from otherwise preventable sickness and disease.
We can’t forget the love and friendship extended to us when we were in Kenya. We can’t forget the smiles and humble nature of the Kenyans from whom Americans could learn a lot! We keep circling back to a place where we are so confused. Both of us knew only our way of life for our entire lives. Yes, we saw impoverished people on t.v. Yes, we learned about people groups from all over the world in school. However, I think we have finally realized why we are different now after going on mission to Kenya.
There is a strong, idol-like filter on America. Everything we see, heard and read about pre-Kenya passed through a filter that encompassed all of our senses and soul. The filter is called, normal. What people view as normal is what they come to accept for their lives as the way things are supposed to be. The most frightening thing about this filter is that we grew up believing our normal is right. Right for us. Before our trip, we heard of needs and did our best to meet them through financial aid and giving our time and energy toward projects like Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse. We went to bed at night, resting our heads on our soft pillows behind locked doors in a safe home, and we slept peacefully believing we had done what was required of us as believers.
Our restlessness isn’t only about experiencing the devastating needs in Kenya, which is much like so many other countries, but about who we are called to be as Christ-followers. Just as when I add filters to my camera lens, everything I see through the viewfinder is altered by the filter’s skew. It’s the same way with the American filter. It has been removed, and Bruce and I stand wide-eyed, to the point of nausea, at what we allowed ourselves to become out of pure ignorance. Our society is so content and comfortable where we are, that we risk nothing out of that comfort zone that jeopardizes what we want. For some to say that they feel solely called to help fellow Americans, which is important in its own rite, says, as David Platt puts it in his book Radical, we boast that we feel called to help only 5% of the world’s population. Is that Christ?
During one of our annual events held to benefit Samaritan’s Purse, someone I know came up to me and said, This is good and all, but next year I’m keeping my money here and helping my homeland.
Again, that is great and noble and needed. But, dare I say, it is not enough. Would any of us be believers today had the disciples in Acts stayed right where they were and never acted on the Great Commission given by Jesus?
Our society is drunk on pleasure, gorged on greediness, and is caught in a sleeper-hold of comfort. My family is among them. I am ashamed to say that our society will take care of others, only after the portion we give ourselves is met first. What could possibly be an example of this? Most people in the world live on a $1 or less. Our society spends hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on sports and arts for our children, thousands on holiday decorations, hundreds of thousands on clothes, shoes and cosmetics. This isn’t mentioning the billions on vehicles, homes and education. The far majority of what we spend our money on will not last. There will be no legacy. No lasting impact for the Kingdom. No special approval from God. It’s just stuff that has woven us in its web and convinced us that these things will mean something one day. Will they?
Below is an email that we recently received from our dear friend, Joseph. We met him in Kenya. He is an overseer of an orphanage that we fell absolutely in love with there. Some friends of ours are back there right now, and delivered a box of supplies we sent with them. When we read this, we cried. Why? Because Joseph is a fellow believer. We will spend eternity with him. For now, he is hurting. A couple of months ago, he lost his oldest son, whom we met, while trying to earn money for his family as a taxi driver of a piki piki (motorcycle). We were devastated by the news.
It is very true that until a connection is made, it’s very easy for people to shrug off what they don’t want to deal with. Joseph and the children are family to us. We pray for them every day. The depth of my heart that was touched by his letter is impossible to put into words. I invite you to share it with me…
Greetings in the name of Jesus, how are you? We are all fine here. God has blessed us with rain although to others it devastating. The crops are doing well despite only yellowing of leaves in corn.
Your friends came to visit us on Wednesday, and they relayed your greetings and your friends’.
We have received the supplies and we are all happy about them.
We are happy when we are with you in prayers and we will not forget you for being with us also in the time of grief. May God be with you and guide you as we are praying for you .
I remember your compassion when you were with us. The love of Christ that I have for you is never ending, may God bless you.
To me, his letter was like reading the New Testament. Brothers and sisters in Christ sharing His love and friendship whether near or far apart. This is what will last. This is what will impact future generations. This is what furthers the Kingdom. The photos below are of the Kenyans’ normal. Does this look okay to us who have homes and vehicles and jobs? I shot these throughout Kenya, not one solitary corner of the community. Step outside of Nairobi (with its slums as well as the business sector) and this is the countryside - a small, but accurate sampling.
I am most certain this post today will upset some people. Frankly, I am upset too, as I see what believers in our country are capable of doing and what it is NOT being done. Bruce and I don’t have all the answers, but we are restless. Are you?