Condolences

I deeply emphatize with our Kenyan neighbors for the ghastly murderous rampage that was unleashed upon them by the terrorist organisation, Al Shabaab, on Thursday morning. This act of incomprehensible hatred has touched the hearts of anyone who has any bit of reasoning capability.

My heart goes out to the grieving families. Nothing we say or do can really temper the pain, it is too much. But because God has put His love in our hearts, He uses us to reach out to other people. We have prayed and we will continue to pray for all the victims’ families. May God grant them grace and succour in the spirit during this extremely trying time.

In attempting to explain this murderous madness and similar acts of insanity that are going on all over the world today, we must start with the premise that we are in the world, and the Bible says that the world is full of violence: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…” (Gen. 6:5-12).

But more importantly, we know that the world is against anything that is even remotely associated with our Lord Jesus Christ. The anti-Christ spirit of the world is alive and well, always has been: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”  (1 Jn. 2:18).

This spirit, being a violent spirit, has much in its arsenal, and it readily uses any of its ‘weapons’ to angrily lash out at anything that has even a semblance of Christianity. All this is in the Bible.

During Herod’s time, he killed all the children who were below two years of age, even though he knew that they were not all Jesus.

In the days we are living in, anyone who has the label of ‘Christian’ will be hunted down and  exterminated, ostensibly for any number of reasons; but the real reason being that that person is in one way or another associated with the Lord of eternal Life, Jesus Christ. That is why we cannot be just nominal ‘Christians’. On the contrary, we must be committed men and women, committed to Christ in truth and in the Spirit through accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts by faith. Actually, the real tragedy in the Garissa massacre are the number of souls, including the terrorists, who died without a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe that is why God is reviving the Pauline revelation of the cross for the church. Without this revelation, believers will, by and large, be nominal Christians. Many, even born-again, will walk in sin. And, in the face of the ongoing persecution many will be tempted to feel bitter and even vengeful. They will claim an eye for an eye, and a life for a life.

But with the revelation of the cross, believers will flourish in the midst of persecution, for in Christ they will learn to joyfully embrace the spirit of suffering. The revelation of the cross will have accomplished a victorious work in their lives. With all the bad blood running in the world today, it is these people alone – those who carry the cross – who will be able to show forth the overcoming love of Christ to a world which has a mindset (or heartset) that has absolutely no understanding of the meaning of love.

We need to pray to God for peace in our neighborhoods and for our nations. Our God is well able to protect His own. But we also need to be prepared in our hearts to suffer, and to suffer with grace.

[Below: No words can suffice to soothe the pain; but God’s grace is sufficient …]

A Life Celebrated

Deep in the heart of Nairobi’s Central Business District there is a thoroughfare called Waiyaki Way that runs all the way beyond the Westlands suburb to join up with the Great North Road. That highway is named after Waiyaki wa Hinga, a great freedom fighter who opposed the British colonialists in the late 20th century. That Waiyaki was my great-grandfather, my mother’s grandfather. Although it is a documented fact that the British captured and killed him, nothing much is known about his death; but my mother told us that he was buried alive, head down.

During the war for independence in the 1950s (popularly known as the Mau Mau Uprising) my mother joined the fight and she also was captured by the British. She was brutally tortured and among the many things she told us the British did to her, was to string her upside down and flog her mercilessly.

After she was released from detention she met my dad, a Tanzanian ‘expatriate’ working in Kenya – he drove a milk delivery truck – who moved her to Tanzania to escape the threat of further capture by the British. They eventually got married in 1959. My mom’s father first came to Tanzania in 1962 to receive the dowry and he died a few years after going back home. During his visit, he blessed her.

In those days people lived non-nonsensical lives and soon my mother started the serious business of bearing and raising children, to which she would eventually give birth to 9 of us. I was born third in line, and I literally witnessed the birth of many of my younger siblings which was done mostly at home, right there in mother’s bedroom. Of course, our joy at having a new-born brother or sister was short-lived because soon we older children’s lives would be turned into a living hell as we became the bona-fide baby-sitters and had to carry out all the gory and hellish facets of child-rearing as well as the house chores.

My dad and mom were into other aspects of caring after the family.

In death as in life, mom was a tower of strength. Mom had a heart, and a BIG heart of faith. Many of the people who attended her burial were pastors, men who knew her since she got saved in 1978. During her burial yesterday, speaker after speaker had only one thing to say about her: her deep faith in Jesus Christ, and her incredible spirit and zest for life. Pastor Amas who presided over the funeral, spoke of how he would often go over to her house and sometimes he would find her undergoing an extreme bout of flu or something, and he would tell her, “Mama, let me bring you some medicine”, to which she would reply, “Pastor, if you preach faith, let us believe Jesus for my healing.”

“I’d be left praying for God to give me more faith!” exclaimed Amas.

Another brother said, “Whenever I’d feel low in the spirit, I’d wander over to Mama’s place because she always had a word of faith to encourage me with.”

As the clods of earth hit mother’s coffin, the reverberations of mom’s life could be felt all around. I have witnessed many burials and after the final prayer the mourners simply pack themselves into their cars and leave. At mom’s burial people were simply unable to leave the gravesite, engaging themselves in small groups and discussing all about what they knew about mom. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie and goodwill rather than sorrow.

I was amongst the last group that left her graveside, probably a good two hours later.