Monday, January 21, 2008

A Day of Birth

Today marks what would have been my sister Sarah’s 29th birthday. This morning I was thinking about all of her birthdays, and how we used to celebrate. If she were here we would probably be going to Benihana. She would have gotten the combo meal with shrimp & steak, eat one bite of salad, and most of her soup. Then we would have told them it was her birthday, they would have come out, we would sing, and then she would get a Polaroid photo taken with some crazy balloon hat on her head. She wouldn’t have been embarrassed – she would have soaked it up loving every minute. That’s what we would have done. But she isn’t here, so today I will go about my normal routine; whatever it is I do without Sarah being present. My head is filled with memories of her birthdays, but there are others who are filled with other memories more painful. No not her death- however painful it is to remember the hospital bed, us singing to her, praying with her, weeping over her… not those memories.

I thought of my mom. I thought about how she doesn’t immediately remember restaurants, hats, and songs; she remembers giving birth. She can remember Sarah, 29 years ago today, meeting her first child. She remembers Sarah’s first bath, Sarah’s first step, Sarah’s first word, Sarah’s first smile. She remembers Sarah’s first and last day of her life. Of course my dad too. That is something I cannot understand. That is a pain I can’t imagine feeling. So I pray for them today. I pray that they would see her in their dreams. I pray that they would be able to celebrate that 29 years ago they welcomed their first child into the world. And in a few months, they would be able to celebrate that they ushered that same child back into Heaven where she came from; 3 years ago. That is my prayer today. Pray with me.

Mom & Dad with Sarah Jane:

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Continue praying...

Here are two more updates from those living in Kenya right now. Please read, and take serious consideration of praying for them on a consistent basis.

The good news is the violence has cooled and many businesses and parts of the country are getting back to normal. The bad news is that this is not the whole picture. If you just look a little below the surface or around the corner you will quickly find the real story going on in Kenya today. It is a bleak picture and one full of sadness. The nation is mourning as it is waking up to the realization that it is capable of such violence and hatred. Never did we believe that neighbors could turn on neighbors like they have. Is it possible that Kenyans could be capable of genocide? No one wants to believe it. Yet, there are reports of ethnic killings and mass hate emails and texts being spread around the country to dehumanize particular tribes. There are strong and clear divisions everywhere. People are very aware of people’s tribe and affiliation. Even to the level of aid responses, we were today being warned of sending the wrong tribe of Nationals into an area for fear of their own safety. There really is a sense of division.

Today is Saturday but when a crisis comes there are no weekends. Diane and I attended meeting after meeting today at the UN. Agencies, churches and individuals trying to help met to find some level of coordination. The reports coming in show upwards of 200,000 IDPs (internally displaced people). This means that 200,000 people that had homes and a sense of security a week ago today are on the street, looking for shelter, water and food. Nearly 300 have died from the police and army as well as from the ethnic violence. Reports of rape and robbery are climbing in the slums and everyone seems to be looking for an opportunity to act lawless. Shops that line the slums and various centers are being looted and often set on fire. Convoys that are trying to get food and supplies to the most hard hit areas are being blocked and looted. What makes things worse is that the issues Kenya is dealing with or not dealing with so well are now having an impact on the neighboring countries. Uganda is taking in refugees and suffering from a lack of fuel as Kenya is the pathway for the petrol/gas transport and no transport is moving. Almost all commercial transport has ceased so food and supplies going to Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, the Congo and other regions that have suffered humanitarian crises are now suffering more as their main port (Kenya’s Mombassa) has nearly shut down and the vehicles are not moving.

According to the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) there is enough food in the country for this crisis at the moment but people are starving because of not having access to the food. Just about 5 km from my house is a camp that has just started, Jamhuri Park. Tonight there are over 4000 people sleeping there and there are no tents or structures, little food but even less fuel to cook the food and water is becoming an issue.

The deeper issue in all of this is the ethnic tension. Even if there is a recount of the votes or a new election in a few month, it won’t fix this deep resentment felt by many of the tribes against the Kikuyu. Then, what if the fighting has stopped… Will people feel safe going home? Doubtfully. So, this becomes a long term response with immediate needs. Mostly we need prayers and God’s provision to lead us to the way of true reconciliation.


You have most likely read of the crisis facing Kenya, especially over the past one week. After an election whose results were rejected by the opposition, many parts of the country encountered pockets of violence that has left over 300 dead and 150,000 displaced people. Both the government and the opposition have accused each other of rigging in the presidential poll, and with lots of intervention from local and international peacemakers, are seeking amicable solutions to the ensuing impasse.

Many of you have written to ask after our welfare. We thank you for your prayers and concern. We fortunately live in the city in a neighborhood that has not been directly affected by the violence. We have kept safe by keeping our heads down. However, that does not diminish the pain we feel for many who have not been as fortunate. Keeping our heads down is probably not even the most godly solution to our situation right now, and we are seeking ways of becoming engaged—not in the politics, but in being salt and light and responding to the humanitarian crisis that faces our country today. Our hearts are heavy and we grieve the things we have seen, heard and felt.

I especially grieve for the youth who have mostly been used in the frontlines to fight the battles of politicians who are safely in their well guarded homes and travel in their bullet proof limos. Never before in our history have Satan’s lies been more visible as they are played out in the Kenyan arena. I feel the call even stronger now to be a frontline agent of instilling a Biblical Worldview that says, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Kenya will be saved because of the heart of God, working in and through his people. Africa will thrive in His Name!

Would you join us in prayer? I am here attaching items from the prayer bulletin of our church, Karura Community Church, for tomorrow’s worship services.

In Your Prayer Closet

Kenya is bleeding, the righteous must stand in the gap!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive heir sin and will heal their land.”

(II Chronicles 7:14)

· Pray for an amicable solution to the Elections impasse. Pray that justice, truth and peace in Kenya will be served.

· Pray for Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, the two men at the centre of Kenya’s pain.

· Pray for our fragile democracy, now threatened by an unsatisfactory election.

· Tribalism has shown itself to be a crisis in Kenya, one that is resulting in bloodshed. Sadly, even in the Church, even among its leaders, tribal allegiance seems to control our response to politics more than truth and righteousness does. Pray that we, the Church, a people whose nationality is one in the kingdom, will be a light to the rest of our countrymen. That love will not only be possible, but will predominate in our inter-ethnic relations.

· Pray concerning the ethnic violence, that it will stop; that the displaced will be able to return to their homes in peace. Pray that people throughout the country will be able to go about their business in peace.

· Pray for those who have lost loved ones through the violence of the last week. Pray also for those whose businesses and/or homes have been destroyed.

· Pray that fomenters of violence and murder will be stopped, and justice prevail.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Kenya Elections

I would ask as you read this begin to lift up Kenya. As elections ended, and Kibaki won, there is rioting, looting, burning & killing happening throughout Kenya. What was a rather peaceful nation is in turmoil.

Please pray for peace in that nation. Pray for unity. Pray for the violence to cease.

Pray. Pray. Pray. God is in Kenya; living, active, and moving through the hearts of those people. Lets pray with faith knowing God is big enough to stop wars from starting and to bring peace.
[Psalm 29:10-11]

Kenyan Newspapers:
The Standard
Daily Nation

A word from those in Kenya right now:

The violence in Nairobi is around the slums, and fortunately we live away from any. Every once in a while we will hear gun shots in the distance, but so far we would have had to go out to look for trouble in order to find it. We grieve for the hundreds hurt or killed and thousands displaced (we know a few of the latter) and cant wait for this madness to end. But God is good, even in these circumstances.

People want normalcy. The last two days we have been able to go out to visit friends and buy provisions. Stores were open and I even ran into traffic snarl-ups today. Please pray for the country as tomorrow, the opposition has insisted on calling a mass rally where the leader, Raila, will be “sworn in” in a civilian coup—a sure recipe for a violent confrontation.

Unfortunately, the youth are misused at times like this... gleefully take to the streets to kill, burn and loot. All the more need for the instilling of a biblical worldview in their lives...

We appreciate your prayers. The Christian leaders have called for a three day fast and prayer. Consider joining us if you can.