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.

Christianity Is Not Safe


 

Just this week, Christians—including women and children—have been killed in Nigeria on account of Christ.  In all, more than 600 Christians have been killed this year.  Perhaps nowhere on earth is more dangerous for Christians right now than northern Nigeria. Christianity is not safe in Nigeria

Emboldened by a Muslim plurality in the north, Boko Haram—a Muslim terrorist group—is waging war against Nigeria Map Persecution ChristiansChristians, hoping to force Christians to flee their home, thereby separating Nigeria into a Northern Nigeria and a Southern Nigeria (such as happened recently with Sudan).  Will Nigeria remain a unified country? Not if Muslim terrorists have their way.

Recently, I spoke with a missionary friend who conducted pastor training in Nigeria this year. The story he told was horrific. He was not prepared for what he saw.

At the worship service he attended, my missionary friend was surprised by a video that the Nigerian pastor played for his congregation. It was a video of a fellow Nigerian pastor being beheaded. It showed every gruesome step of the process of Muslim terrorists cutting off this brother’s head and his hands, placing them on his back, then carrying him off as refuse.

My friend was not prepared for the hideous scene. The Nigerian pastor leading the worship service felt it was important to be sober-minded about the cost of Christian discipleship. He wanted his congregation to remain aware of the danger of being called by the name of Christ.

I’m not sure I would show a video like that to my congregation, but I am not sure it is wrong to do so either. What I do know (though not as well as my Nigerian brothers) is that Christ taught from the beginning that some would want to kill Christians just as they ended up killing our Lord Himself. Christ’s promises are often as sobering as the Muslim snuff film. Take Luke 21:16-19, for example:

But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17and you will be hated by all because of My name. 18“Yet not a hair of your head will perish.19“By your endurance you will gain your lives.

The gospel now—as from the beginning—is a matter of life and death for Christians in Nigeria. Let us all be as Peter commanded us, sober-minded.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13, NASB).

 

Under Fire in Uganda


For an interesting and engaging article, read this Christian Post article about the riff between Pastor Rick Warren and the evangelical leaders in Uganda, Africa.  They are disturbed, confused, and angry about what they believe is his capitulation toward the gay agenda.  Interesting ethical issues abound in this article.