Saturday, October 5, 2013



            There are so many misconceptions about pretty much everything under the sun. I think many people view Africa as a place full of poverty, AIDS, and lions. And those are certainly true, but only part of the truth, which ultimately is not true if that is ALL you think. It’s funny when some people I know think I’m a certain type of person because they have only known me for a period of time and in certain roles. And this is true for everybody. I have certainly had misconceptions about people as well.
            When it comes to the Gospel (the Good News, Christianity, saved by grace) I know for a fact that the majority of the world has a very large misconception of what the Gospel truly is. Much of this was spurned on by a Tim Keller sermon I was listening to last night. Here is a snippet of my misconception of Christianity. For the longest time I thought this God thing was about me, sort of. I kinda knew it wasn’t about me, but at the same time I was trying to be a good person, live right, and all that good stuff. By being a good person, I thought that I would earn favor with God. When a person on Oprah who was a drug addict then turned his life around and is now going to college (or whatever) I thought to myself, I have been doing what is right since the beginning and I don’t get this favor. What’s up with that God? As I began to grow in my relationship with God, this outlook began to change over time. The story of “the prodigal son” was a story that helped me to see things in a different perspective. To me the story was about the son who took his inheritance and wasted it away. He lived a “bad” life, but God’s mercy allowed him back in. I identified with the older son who stayed home and obeyed his Father and didn’t get the party thrown for him. It wasn’t until much later, and hearing this story many times that this story wasn’t only about the Father’s mercy to the bad son. But it was about the Father’s pleading with the “good” son to come in and celebrate.
            The Gospel in my mind was always about being “good.” But that couldn’t be further from the Truth. That is “religion.” Religion is about earning favor. When I do this or that, then I deserve the reward. If this is not pride, I don’t know what is. Tim Keller says this, “It’s not, ‘the good people who are in and the bad people who are out.’ It’s ‘the Humble people who are in and the proud who are out.’” This turns all human conceptions on its head. We want so bad to earn favor. But God is not a God who can be bought and coerced. It is his for the choosing. It is through a humble repentance that problems can be solved.
            The misconception that Jesus addresses the “bad” prostitutes, cheaters, and drunkards only is a common one. Jesus addresses the moral, upright, and nice people just as much if not more than the “prodigal son.”
            It is in this Gospel, as I become more and more familiar with it, that I become more and more in love with my God. And more and more thankful because it is nothing that I have done in myself. It is through the humility of Jesus that I can say this. What a beautiful reality.
            There is so much more than this. But I believe I will stop now. If you want to listen to Tim Keller’s sermon, youtube “Tim Keller The Sin Against the Holy Spirit.” Journey on friends.


            I wonder if my hair will ever grow back. It’s been nearly a year since it started falling out. Here are some benefits to not having any hair: don’t have to buy shampoo, wake up and not have morning hair, save money and time on haircuts, you can drive with your windows down and not have to look in the mirror to make sure your hair is set properly, don’t get eyelashes in your eyes (cuz you have none), good conversation starter,  don’t have to shave or trim anything, don’t have to worry about getting hair in your mouth and food. Downsides to having no hair: when you do get hair in your mouth or food you know it’s not yours (gross), you have to wear sunblock or a hat all the time when outside, have to wear a sweat headband when working out cuz sweat gets in your eyes from lack of eyebrows, you look even more pale than you already are. Things that are funny from having no hair: people feel they can just touch your head whenever they want, kids comment on how you look like Voldermort, people assume you’re a swimmer, when you look in the mirror you sometimes think how you need to watch the movie Powder again.

            People talk about first world problems, and they are usually true. Here are a few to add to the list that may continue throughout the next couple months. Scenario 1: The hot tub isn’t warm enough vs. the boy down by the river just got bit by a hippo (true story). Scenario 2: I don’t want peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana cookie, and juice again vs this is the 16th day in a row of eating guthiri (beans and corn stew stuff) for lunch and dinner and biting down on stones (running joke that is fairly accurate). Scenario 3: I don’t want to go to school anymore vs I can’t go to school for a while cuz my dad broke his leg and can’t work, and I have to get a job to help feed my five younger brothers and sisters (true story of a worker here at the school named Jefferson). Scenario 4: “Mom! I don’t want to wake up early to walk 6 minutes to school! Give me a ride!” vs. walking to school along the highway 30 min in the rain with no umbrella.

            Most evenings I look out west and am completely dumbfounded by the sheer beauty of the sunset. I don’ think in all history there has been an exact same looking sight. Tonight it looked like a painter took his paintbrush and left the strokes in the sky. The clouds, the silhouette of the trees, the colors. I can’t describe. It was so subtle, and at the same time brilliant. Just before I went in the clouds turned to look like a silhouette of an island in the distance with a couple boats out in the water. You might think I’m ridiculous at this point, but I just wish that you were here to see it for yourself.

            I knew Kamotho, Harun, and the principal were supposed to come over today and discuss some stuff. But this was different. Kamotho, Principal Maina, and his wife and 1 yr old son came in. Kamotho brought sweet potatoes to cook, and said to make tea. Kamotho helped. I only have one burner off a gas tank that took some coaxing to get working. I really had no idea why they were here… and in the house. After a little bit another person came over. Then a couple more. Then another. Then like three more. I felt like the Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit when all the dwarves kept coming in and he didn’t know why, but they wanted to eat. After a while of some logistical discussion in Swahili and Kikuyu, somebody else came in. With no place for her to sit I gave my seat to her and left to hang out with the boys outside who had just finished doing laundry, which was I was planning to do before I was bombarded. I still don’t know what the whole thing was about. I will find out soon.
            Because it’s Saturday, the students have free time after 2pm. Some of them sit in front of the stereo and blast it to the maximum and sit there and listen to American and Kenyan R&B and rap. Sometimes they dance. Sometimes just sit and veg as if they’re high for hours at a time. Most of the students turn on the small tv and watch some burned copy of a movie or show. Tonight it was Stomp the Yard, High School Musical (until they realized it was in French and subtitled French), Camp Rock, and Camp Rock 2. I didn’t know that was how Demi Lavato got famous. I got to the last movie and couldn’r stay any longer. It was too much for me. 

1 comment:

Melissa Avery said...

Glad you are there Ben. We are with you in spirit. By the way we are not going to Saudi Arabia. Praying for you. And yeah 1st world problems...don't get me started ;)