broken

Who Could Blame Him?

Who could blame him for being angry?

Here’s Jesus – a perfect person with a perfect perspective on the world, a perfect relationship with his Father, and a perfect understanding of justice and righteousness (how things should be). Jesus walks this earth for roughly three decades and sees all kinds of brokenness around him.

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10 Pictures (Almost) Everyone Takes In Africa

Even people who know nothing about Africa still know that it’s a veritable treasure trove of pictures. It’s a continent full of exotic plants, exotic animals, and even exotic people. From the densely populated urban centers to the open plains, from north to south, east to west, and coast to coast, tourists flock to Africa, cameras in tow. Here are ten pictures that (almost) everyone takes in Africa.

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A Busy Kind of Slow

water-pitcherWhat is life like in Kenya? Well, yesterday, I filled two pitchers with water in just over an hour. Mind you, I didn’t have to walk for miles to get the water like so many people here, but from the time I decided to fill the pitchers to the time they were filled, the big hand on the clock made a full revolution. Here’s my version of the events (and there’s no one here to refute me).

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Great Big Family

Morning tea at Karen Vineyard Church

Morning tea at Karen Vineyard Church

Sunday was a busy day here in Nairobi. We had the opportunity to visit two great churches, each with their own distinct expression of God’s kingdom in action. Our first visit was to Karen Vineyard Church, a diverse international church community made up people from over 40 different nations. The culture at KVC is very familiar, the worship style similar to our church back home and the entire service is in our native English, led by Americans, Brits, Kiwis and Kenyans. This is the kind of church that would be easy for me to call home.

Worship service at Dagoretti Corner Vineyard

Worship service at Dagoretti Corner Vineyard

Our second church visit of the morning was the Dagoretti Corner Vineyard Church, led by pastor John Gitau. The church is a rock in the community and is filled with some of the most loving and God-fearing people you will ever meet. The culture is very Kenyan, the worship songs in Swahili and the message given in English (for our benefit) and translated into Swahili. In the small room are Kenyans from a variety of socio-economic levels, all worshiping in a way that seems warm and familiar to them, but is completely foreign to me. This is a church where God is doing a great work, but I find myself (as do many international visitors) more of an observer due to the cultural and language differences.

These are only some of the dynamics at work here in Kenya. Churches like the one in Karen and churches like the one at Dagoretti Corner have coexisted here for a long time – each reaching out to the population of people who culturally connect to their church. Rarely, however, do these types of congregations work together or partner in God’s work. The communities tend to stay fairly isolated from each other and independent in their efforts to reach out to the city.

Within the Vineyard churches, however, this could not be further from the truth. One of the things that excites me most about partnering with the Association of Vineyard Churches in Kenya is that we have an opportunity to truly become part of the family. Noah Gitau, the National Director of AVC Kenya, will effectively be my boss. I will serve under his leadership and authority. Our church, along with the two other international (culturally western) churches in Kenya will be on equal footing with the 70+ indigenous (culturally Kenyan and Kenyan-led) churches. We are brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues.

While our experiences at these two churches highlighted some of the cultural differences between Kenya and the west, they also served as a reminder that Kenyans and internationals all bring something unique to the mix that, in the context of this large, diverse family, strengthens the faith of the people and broadens the work of the kingdom of God in Kenya. Are we excited to be part of this great big Vineyard family? You bet.

TED Talk Tuesday: Shut Up and Listen!

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How can we change the world? The answer is simple: we can’t. The world must change itself. More precisely, the people of the world must be the agents of change to bring justice and opportunity around the globe.

Perhaps it would be beneficial (although probably not) if the people of Africa, for example, would just listen and follow the instructions of some foreigner coming in to tell them how to grow food, start businesses, care for their families, etc. The problem is, the people of Africa, Asia and anywhere else don’t want someone else to tell them how to live their lives.

Imagine that scenario happening to you. Let’s say some stranger arrives in your community from some foreign land. This person is very successful and she wants to give you the keys to be just as successful. First, you must embrace some communist ideas, including the suppression of free speech. Second, you must force out of your neighborhood any neighbor who disagrees with you. Third, you must wholly submit yourself to this woman’s authority. Are you interested in obtaining success through her methods?

Most of us would say no. And yet, this is the kind of thinking that we so often subject others to. In the name of trying to help them, we are actually trying to “convert” them – to a way of thinking, to a culture very different from their own. We have a lot of great ideas – ideas that are born out of our culture and our experience – but we fail to take into account the culture (which goes back thousands of years prior to ours) and the collective experiences of these people.

One of the keys, I believe, to working with people around the world is to understand that they aren’t less intelligent, less skilled or less able than us and ours is not and should not be a teacher/student, master/servant or parent/child relationship. We are brothers and sisters – each one learning from the other, each one giving and receiving and each one sharing from our own unique perspective.

If we want to help others, we need to take Dr. Sirolli’s advice. We need to shut up and listen!

 

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