27 February 2013

Flash back (#8): February 2008 Prayer Letter

Who woulda thunk it?!

I’ve long been aware of Kenyans’ pent-up frustrations that have brewed over the past decades. I’ve known, for instance, that many have harbored prejudice in their own hearts, while at the same time condemning South Africa of apartheid or the unfair treatment of blacks in the United States.

However… I certainly never could have imagined things would deteriorate so quickly to the desperate situation this nation is now facing. The violence continues to mushroom and escalate.

Each and every one of us living in this beautiful country – both native Kenyans as well as expats – listen to the news every day with heavy and broken hearts. Indeed, we’ve all become consumed with the unfolding events. At any social gathering, it’s the topic on everyone’s lips. I’ve always been an avid reader of one of the local newspapers; now I’ve also become a keen listener to BBC and Voice of America radio programming. I wake up wondering and dreading what the latest shocking and alarming news might be.

It’s almost impossible to articulate what we’ve all experienced in the past month. Things seemed to have calmed down for a few days, only to flare up again last Friday. It could appear to be a downward spiral.
Feelings of disbelief and helplessness alternate with anguish and fear, pain and stress. One can’t help but be overwhelmed with grief over the latest distressing reports of flare-ups and fatalities.

Sadness wells up inside. Weariness sets in.

There’s a prevailing sense of tension on the street. Suspicion and distrust lurks within the minds of many.
Depression threatens to overcome the very psyche of this nation.

Generally speaking, though, Kenyans are more hopeful than fearful. There is an ever-present sense of optimism. In fact, this is something that has always intrigued me about Kenyans! In the midst of dire circumstances, there’s always the belief that tomorrow will be a better day.

I find purpose for my own life and presence in Kenya by personalizing Mordecai’s challenging words to Esther. “Who knows? Maybe you are in Kenya for just such a time as this!”

I echo the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, as I minister to those to whom God has called me:

“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.”

The following quote (also mildly modified) of Henri Nouwen’s encourages me:

“I am not the healer, I am not the reconciler, and I am not the giver of life. I am a sinful, broken, vulnerable person who needs as much care as anyone I care for. The mystery of ministry is that I have been chosen to make my own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.”

“I carry a weapon, too. My weapon is not crude, like a machete, a bow and arrows, an axe, a club, a chain, or stones. My weapon is love. In this critical time in Kenya, may the love of Christ shine out from me. May others sense the calmness of the Holy Spirit within me.”
- a word of exhortation last Sunday at church

“Carry on.
It won’t be long before we’re gathered around God’s throne.
To the lonely missionary… this is not the time to let up.
It’s time to lift your head up.
When you sow in tears, you’ll reap in joy.
Don’t stop, carry on.”
– Ray Boltz (in his song, Carry On)

Such horrible happenings as Kenya has just witnessed conjure up a multitude of questions in ones heart and mind. Most of them have no answer.

Interestingly, Oswald Chambers says that all questions in life can be answered with the words of Jesus, “Come to Me”. How true! As we look into the face of Jesus, nothing else matters.

I appreciate your fervent prayers on my behalf as I carry on!

These ongoing atrocities have profoundly affected all of my Kenyan friends in very significant ways. They’ve been traumatized. Please also pray fervently for them.

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