Why Are We Missing Opportunities to Make a Difference in the World?
This year has been one of great turbulence in our lives here in West Virginia! The year started out with the death by miscarriage of one of our grandchildren, and our lives went "topsy-turvy." Pain and sorrow can completely deprive us of energy and willpower, while at the same time make us deeply aware of the uncertainty of life and the need to live each moment with God's purposes in mind.
Instead of blogging on this site, my husband and I spent many days visiting our children and grandchildren in Pennsylvania and Ohio many times, hoping to make joyful memories that would last beyond our lifetime. We also made the decision to visit our ten grandchildren in Kenya before we got too old to make the trip so far across the world.
In order to be able to travel by mid-September, we had to plant our garden early and pray for the veggies to ripen quickly so we could preserve them for next winter before we traveled. God supplied an abundant harvest and we worked over four months almost non-stop, getting everything done in time for our flight to Kenya.
I had briefly thought about taking an online course in Swahili so I would be more prepared to interact with Kenyans, but that did not happen! As it turned out, Kenyans go to school and learn Swahili and English, thus speaking at least three languages, including their tribal one. And we think it is hard to learn to speak (poorly) one extra language in the US, if we even do that!
We thought we were prepared for what we would see in Kenya, but we were surprised. We expected that being about one hundred miles below the equator the land would be very tropical, but Nairobi city is on a plateau 6,000 feet above sea level with a very temperate climate. Traveling there during their spring time was not much different than being at 2000 feet in West Virginia during the autumn! We had wonderful sunshine for two weeks until the spring rains came during our last week, when we had to put on our sweaters and even light a fire in the fireplace!
The most surprising thing to us, however, was how we had unconsciously stereotyped the people. Contrary to our idea of poor people without work depending on others for their sustenance, we found there were indeed poor people, but they were very hard working people, finding whatever they could do to support themselves and their families, even if it meant using a hammer to reduce stone blocks into gravel for sale! On either side of most roads we traveled, there were people making furniture, weaving baskets, making jewelry, carving wood and making metal garden ornaments like birds, giraffes, frogs and other animals, and selling pottery and foods. Along the edges of the main roads even, there were "nurseries"-- rows and rows of plants in black bags, blooming profusely, making me wish I lived there to be able to purchase every flower I fancied!
Our daughter and son-in-law have staff, employed to help them clean, cook, do laundry, plant gardens and drive their van. The staff are lovely people we adopted as part of our family. They are Christians who love working and serving our children and grandchildren, and for that, we bless them. I spent hours with many of them talking about their lives, families and goals for the future. The van driver told me he and his wife pray for our children, and thank God for the opportunity to serve them!
We were surprised by the many churches we saw, and by the many buses and other vehicles with Bible verses and Christian sayings painted on them. When Kenyans say they are Christians, they mean it. Many Kenyans were proud to claim President Obama as one of their own-- until he proclaimed to support gay marriage. Then they were shocked and said, "But he said he is a Christian! How can he support what God condemns?"
My husband and I spent some time with a missionary couple who have ministered in Kenya over 40 years. They are so dismayed and discouraged that churches in the U.S. do not care enough about the wide open opportunities for the Gospel in Kenya and Sudan to come and help plant doctrinally sound churches throughout Kenya and Sudan. There are many churches who do not preach and teach how to live out God's Word, but are content to just give the people a "superficial" religion of piety with no passion for putting the Bible into practice in their lives.
We felt the deep sorrow the missionaries expressed. They have spent 40 years training new pastors, but they feel alone in doing that, and they seemed frustrated that they may not have much longer to work toward a vital Christian Kenyan nation. By knowing English, the Kenyans have so much theological material available to them, but so few pastors to train them. Why are churches in the U.S. not investing in building Christian nations in Africa? Pagan China is spending time and money building the roads in China, but there are few Christians taking advantage of those roads to spread the Gospel.
Needless to say, Ovid and I came away with renewed purpose to support in whatever way we can, the growth in biblical living for Africa, and Kenya in particular. We do not know how many years of life God may have for us on this earth, but this year He has opened our eyes to the possibilities of many things we may be able to do in the time left to us.
The death of our grandchild at the beginning of the year was the event that has stimulated our thinking that short as life may be, there are still many opportunities every day to use our remaining energies toward Christianizing the nations for the glory of God. We must work toward the future! "Work, for the night is coming!"
Please pray with us that God will send workers into the fields, for the fields of the world are ripe for harvesting!