Viewing entries tagged
kenya

A prescription for action

Kenya’s slums are home to 3.9 million people. [1] Huruma, one of these slums, is on government-owned land, but it is less than governed – the area has been largely ignored in terms of the availability of basic human services.

Irene Tongoi took this as an opportunity, a chance to offer a new dawn for those in the slums. In 2007, she opened the New Dawn Mji Wa Huruma Clinic to serve Huruma and the surrounding communities. It was the only provider of medical care services in the slum.

In the time since, the clinic has been in consistent operation, serving everyone in the slum community – malnourished children, the elderly, and adults with needs ranging from respiratory illnesses to rheumatism to malaria. In just the first half of 2013 alone, the clinic provided a total of 10,581 treatments, including caring for 1,265 children in the child welfare system, providing preventative care for 1,790 mothers and children, and providing 494 patients with regular medical dressings and injections. This span of time included a three-month national nurse strike, meaning the clinic’s staff received an increased flow of patients, but still upheld their high standard of care with the extra work.

One of the nurses reported that she recently had the chance to care for an elderly patient who needed counseling and treatment after the amputation of her left leg. The nurse stated, “We have been able to monitor her blood sugar and blood pressure with much success, she has greatly improved. She happens to be a widow with no children of her own thus was very depressed, she is a very happy person today.”

In situations like this, Irene says she “thanks God so much for enabling us to serve his people.” In return, join us in saying thanks to Irene for her humble service to an overlooked community for the past six years, especially for a very busy - yet very successful - 2013!

If medical needs are an area you’re interested in supporting, we currently have a unique opportunity to do so here.

 

[1] Homeless International, available http://www.homeless-international.org/our-work/where-we-work/Kenya.

Not By Bullet Or Drone

Though the physical battle at the Westgate Mall in Kenya has drawn to a close, the moral war rages on. For all the intelligence intercepts, military raids, and advanced weaponry we possess, we have to face reality – this battle will not be won by bullets and drones. COMPETING RADICALISMS

Many – but not all - observers of Islam view extreme acts of violence (such as the attack on Westgate) as radical perversions of the core tenets of that faith. There are many factors that contribute to such terrible acts (check out this interesting BBC article) but one thing is clear: the center of this ideological and theological perspective is shifting south and west, from the “stans” (Pakistan, Afghanistan) to north and east Africa.

Of course, it is also apparent that the future center of Christianity will also be in Africa, suggesting that this continent and the world to come will be more contentious than the world to date.

In the middle of this fray, we find “the church.” Hardly a monolithic “the,” “the church” is fragmented, diminished and dismissed. And it is the only hope for Africa’s future, if…

…  If the church responds to “the other” as “another,” (as in “another of God’s children, frail and fallen”).

…  If the church embodies redeeming love and perseverance.

…. If the church speaks with authority unsullied by practices.

Tall orders. A lot of conditional “ifs.” And, by the way, these same conditions apply to the US church as it struggles to adapt to a rapidly and radically changing culture all around it.

So, is it time to surrender? Or, to roll up our sleeves and get to work?

I, for one, am rolling up my sleeves. It’s why I joined African Leadership, because “the church” in Africa is asking us to help, and in so helping we too (“the church” in America) will also be made to see our own reality. We seek to contribute to one continent’s moral and cultural foundations, and end up shoring up our own. Where I come from, that sounds like a “two-fer” (as in “two fer the price of one”) and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

 

The Westgate Massacre

 A Statement from African Leadership President John Walter 9-22-2013

In his statement today, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said, "Let us continue to wage a moral war even as our troops continue the physical battle."

He was, of course, speaking to a nation shocked by al-Shabaab's brazen and violent attack on the Westgate Mall and the ongoing hostage stand-off that continues into today (Sunday). The "moral war" results - all too often in a fallen world - in physical battles. In this case, it is Kenya's armed forces standing with the government of Somalia, its neighbor to the east, against an al-Qaeda linked militia.

This "moral war" (to use President Kenyatta's phrase) is not new; it is ancient. It has taken different forms over the long train of history. In the present time it seems to be between those who pray and work for a heaven best described by the prophet Isaiah, and those for whom such a picture is anathema. "They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain..." (Isaiah 11:9a ESV, emphasis added). Former enemies, the wolf and the lamb, live together in peace. Contrast that image with the carnage from the Westgate Mall to see a perfect juxtaposition of worldview between those who work for peace and justice, and an extreme few with warped visions of power and hegemony.

This battle will not be won by bullets or drones; it will be won by God's people exhibiting his boundless love and mercy. It is a war of ideas and of loving labor that stems from this radical belief: that the universe's Master loves all his creation and creatures and wants them to experience reconciliation with him and with each other.

Yesterday, that battle found its way to the Westgate Mall: nearly 60 dead, hostages still being held as I write this, a familiar oasis turned tempting target, a place known to anyone who has spent time in Nairobi.

The attack on Westgate reminds us all of the importance of pastors who find themselves on the front lines of this moral war. The more they can be equipped to explore, explain, and expose the depths of God's grace and mercy, the more the radical ideas of the Bible can soften and replace the physical war.

Most foreign policy thinkers today believe that the Cold War was won not by military might, but by ideas. My wife and I lived and volunteered in Poland in the early 1990s, taking part in the great cleanup after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. I joined African Leadership because the battle of ideas has shifted to Africa, and I am called to it. Our work isn't just about training pastors to give better sermons; our work is equipping pastors for the front lines of this moral war, this clash of visions of heaven that sadly is worked out over the lives of too many innocents.

Let us pray for the safe release of the hostages and for those families grieving today and in the days to come after the news cycles move on.