What Can We Learn from Kenyan Kids?

As adults, we are in the proper habit of assuming that our role is to teach kids rather than to learn from them. This habit is indeed proper because kindergarten would be chaos if the kids ruled the classroom. High school kids would produce only slightly less chaos (or maybe even more). No doubt, children need adults to teach them.

There are times, however, when children—in their innocence and naiveté—have something to teach us in return. Being conditioned (and sometimes hardened) by the grim

Nairobi Kenya Christian persecution st. polycarp grenade John Maina
Nairobi, Kenya
(Public Domain)

realities of living in a world in which sin as abundant as oxygen, we adults often retreat to safety, abandoning our ideals and principles. Sometimes, a kid needs to remind us of what we believe.

Such was the case recently in Kenya. As we have seen over this past year, Africa has been a continent rife with persecution, oppression, and murder. Obviously, Muslim terrorists hope to keep Christians (and other non-Muslims) living in fear.  Churches in Kenya have been living with the daily anxiety of asking, “Will our church be next?”  Sally Gatei of St. Polycarp Anglican Church in Nairobi explains,

“We are in Eastleigh,” the area of Nairobi well-known for its largely Somali population.  Many Christians, including myself, thought that something might happen. Every week we’d wonder ‘What if it’s this Sunday?’ But we’d still go to church.”

On September 30, Gaei’s fears came true. She was sitting in a children’s Sunday school class when Muslim terrorists launched a hand grenade into the group of children. A little boy, John Maina, had turned 9 the day before the explosion. It was his last birthday. His father (who is in a wheelchair recovering from a stroke) tells the story,

“John had celebrated his birthday only the day before. He’d asked for two cakes, one to share with friends after church on Sunday. That never happened. My son wheeled me to the church service, then left for Sunday school,” lamented Patrick.

Understandably, the church was devastated after the attack. Many other children were hurt by the blast. The church building suffered great damage as well. As a result, church officials were on the verge of canceling services the following week. But the children spoke up.  Gatei says,

“The most amazing thing, though, is that, although we thought we should cancel Sunday school the next Sunday, most children insisted we should meet as usual, even though the room had not yet been repaired!”

Here is a great case of the simplicity of child-like faith leading a church to faithfulness over her fears.  Psalm 8:2 says, “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.”  Jesus would later quote this passage to a group of Pharisees—wise, religious leaders, who failed to understand why children were praising the arrival of Jesus at the temple (Matthew 21:16).

There are times when children instinctively understand what is praiseworthy and what is right.  In Nairobi, Kenya, the kids have strengthened the church and kept her faithful through an admittedly fearful time. Let’s hear it for the kids! As Jesus once said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

I would say kids at St. Polycarp in Nairobi, Kenya, have made His point.

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