“One month after a deeply flawed election, Kenya is tearing itself apart along ethnic lines…”
NYT Article here
Today I walked the streets of Kibera. It is the largest slum in Kenya. (I’ve heard it called the largest in the world.) People estimate that a million souls reside there, but no one can be sure. It’s practically in our backyard. Always has been for the many years we’ve lived in Kenya. It’s the place our Kenyan friends and co-workers come from and go to each day. From the air, on my standard departure out of Wilson Airport, it’s a compact, rusty scar on the landscape. It’s also a place we’ve mainly avoided while living in Nairobi.
What took me into Kibera today was the opportunity to interview a pastor there. I’m on a media assignment with AIM this week. To write a few stories about what God is doing amidst the chaos that has crept into this country. To see what difference the Church is making. And hoping that we don’t have to look too hard.
Pastor Timothy walked me around his mission field for four hours. The Kibera slum is hard to capture with words. There is no counterpart in the western world. It bustles with life. And it provides an ever present reminder that life is cheap. We trodded the footpaths and walked the railroad tracks for a while. From Timothy’s Bible school that he started, to the church he pastors. Around every corner, it seemed, someone would recognize him and call out his name. We’d stop, greet, and be introduced. Here was a student at the school. Here an old woman who’s become a pillar in the church. Here a drunken youth. Here another, saved from a similar fate. “I love this man,” the youth tells me. And I believe him.
There are signs of war in Kibera. Crumbled buildings. Charred remains of little shops. Spray-painted pleas for peace on whatever is left standing. Kenya is smoldering with ethnic tension right now. Today’s news is perhaps the most troubling we’ve heard so far. (link)
But beating the beaten paths of Kibera with Timothy gave me a glimpse of redemption in the middle of it. At one point he walked with another pastor, a co-worker in ministry, and gave me a little lesson on tribal identity in Kenya. One of them a Luya. One of them a Kikuyu. In today’s climate… bitter enemies. But in Christ they are one. There are 42 tribes in this land. “But we are one tribe in Jesus,” Timothy declared, stepping closer to his fellow servant to make the point.
These guys are a blatant, courageous example of the difference the Church is making. With a gathering storm on the horizon, it is an example we hope is repeated throughout this weary land.