Friday, Jan. 8 of 2010 - from my Masai Mara safari journal entries
“With Pen in Hand”
The Mara is waking as I sit with coffee and my pen. Birds of a hundred different voices and tongues. The river sounds over the rocks. Sunshine beginning to touch greenery that is meant to grow and sustain the lives of others.
Unfortunately Kathy woke with intestinal issues last night; so her sleep was a bit fleeting. Anna and I slept like children with few cares in this world.
We are in Africa -- Kenya to be precise -- where the world slows and life is tasted well. Be it difficult life or good life or a mix of both, tasting life is not an option here. Break-neck speeds of consumption and consumerism have not yet fully gripped this continent. There is something here that is the way God intended life to be.
We only get one chance for the world in our lifetimes, and I wonder how much of mine should be spent right here. Even to this moment with pen in hand, there is a recognition of the transcendent. Abba Father’s creation is alive and breathing into every part of my body, every piece of my hopes and dreams, and filling my doubts with the ongoing exposure of his face.
Convincing the people of God in the West to love and support without also messing with this culture may be a challenge; yet I know of no other way to feed, cloth, and educate these people. Perhaps our challenge is not to raise money for the poor and needy, but it is to learn to love others who are so different from us. Our challenge is a willingness to expand our hopes for God’s creation and billions of his people -- starting with thirty orphaned children in a place far from home.
So I ask, how does this trip to Africa, this experience with beautiful children who have no parents, and this extraordinary Masai Mara change us? A travesty would be for no real change beyond a holiday.
With three of us from my family visiting this year, I hope our lives continue to be transformed --- transformed into lives that love these children and a serious recognition of the resurrection. We hold all the potential to fail in this effort, and yet we also hold all of the possibilities, all of the hopes, and all of the dreams to move toward the kingdom of God.
We when hope for the kingdom, we do not hope for only a future reality of God with his people. We also hope for a current reality for this lifetime that will connect to something concrete, something that makes a real difference in this big universe greater than simply sinners prayers.
Echos of the prophet Micah can be heard to do justice and to love mercy. We hear the words of Jesus to cloth the naked and feed the hungry. Here in Kenya these prophecies are almost audible in the air.
Cries to do to the ‘least of these’ are fully experienced. Cries to chase after the lost lambs as if they matter to all of creation and its creator, and cries to feed and protect the marginalized as if our eternity depends upon it become reality.
We recognize that in the resurrection our disconnect with God is restored. And we recognize that Yahweh God calls us to live as a ‘restoration people’ -- people absolutely convinced that the ways of Jesus, and the entire biblical text upon which he stands -- is in fact the way forward for all humanity.
We are not only a people with the hope for living without end; we are also a people passionately crying out that this gospel is a reality for the here and now. Regrettably, I sense we as followers of Jesus in the West still prefer a gospel that is clean and neat rather than filled with snotty-nosed and orphaned AIDS children.
The evangelical gospel of living happily with Jesus in our suburbia homes along with a categorized understanding of God, is a much less threatening story. Unfortunately, this is also a story that tells nothing compelling to a generation who has experienced virtually all things on the continent.
The idea of real sacrifice for the ways of Jesus could be compelling. But are we really serious about recreating our stories to mirror the biblical text? Are we ready to explore the kingdom for a generation still seeking real purpose for the breaths of their lives?
The best I can do is to continue hoping, dreaming, and living into this reality. Perhaps my kids and a few friends will follow. In reality, the lives of thirty orphaned kids depend upon it. And perhaps even my salvation depends upon it.
Either I live into the reality of my beliefs or I hold nothing but theology argued somewhere on the internet that will never feed, cloth or even save.