HOPE IN SPITE OF WHAT IS SEEN
Since living here in Kenya (almost two years now) I have heard over and over that “this is Kenya” (TIK) or “this is Africa” (TIA) as a reason for a lot of things. Someone is late to dinner? TIA. Takes hours to do a task that should only take 30 minutes? TIA. Children begging in the streets and not going to school? TIA. Headmasters at school selling what was given to the children for free? TIK. Government officials are still in office after stealing millions of shillings from the people or the World Bank? TIK. Must I continue?
Indifference and apathy is one thing but I believe it’s more than that. It’s a way of life. It’s deep in the thoughts of the people. This is just the way it is. This is how I always remember it being and this is how it’ll always be. This is Kenya.
Something in me, since I was teenager, believes I can make a difference in the world. There’s something in me that truly believes I can change the world. When I became a Christian, the first devotional book I got was entitled something like “10 Challenges of a World Changer”. Now, I don’t remember any of those challenges but I remember feeling like God was telling me, “You’re going to change the world.” To be honest with you, being in Kenya is the first time that I have completely doubted this to be true of myself.
Nothing I do here changes anything. Nothing I say seems to help anyone. I give food to my friends in need and they are in need again tomorrow. I try to love the street kids, and they get angry with me for not giving them what they want. I try to be an example of how to parent and love my children, and I see no fruit. I voice my opinions on injustice issues and I’m told again and again, “this is Kenya”.
I am feeling spent.
I am feeling empty.
I am feeling discouraged.
And my heart is sadder than it ever has been because part of me is starting to believe this is Kenya. This is how it will always be. People will just continue to live in darkness believing they have found light. Children will never receive what they deserve. The good will never be rewarded for their work. And the evil here will just continue and continue.
But then I read this passage, and I’ll write it how the Spirit spoke to me:
"Dear Kate, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers in Kenya, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance."
“…keep on loving others as long as life last…” I don’t know about you, but that’s a really long time and it messes with my American thinking that life should be easy and the things I desire should come quickly. But look how the writer finishes that statement, “…in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.” I have hopes for Thika and for all of Kenya. I have hopes for the families I work with and see every day. But my flesh is weak and often I don’t remember that faith means I’m having confidence that what I hope for will actually happen.
So I’m realizing I need to become blind to what I see in the flesh, and I must begin to see what is seen by the Holy Spirit. I need to close my ears to the lie, and all that it means, that this is Kenya. I need to allow His words of Truth to define what I believe and hope for. I need change, a continued refining.
I’m starting to believe again that in me is a world changer. But I’m starting to understand that the changes I wish to see may not come for many generations and may not be seen until after I’ve joined those who’ve come before us. And I’m reminded that changing the world means continuing to love those around me and enduring until my work here in this life is done.
"All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."
Co-Founder of HHMV
keep on loving others
as long as life lasts
in order to make
certain that what you
hope for will come true