Monday, July 20, 2009

Lessons in the gospel from Nairobi

I just came across two articles today that anyone who really cares about poverty, justice, and the gospel must read:

I love Nairobi. I used to go there a lot when I worked in Tanzania in the mid-80s. It seemed a somewhat safer place then, though even back then I suspected it was a bit of an illusion--there was such a disparity between wealth and privilege on one hand, and poverty and despair on the other, and they were side by side all the time. I last saw Nairobi in 2002 when I went for a conference, and I was struck by how much a lot of the city had decayed, but yet how incredibly built-up certain wealthy areas had become (the Sarit Centre in Westlands in particular). I still dream of taking my family there some day, but unless I land a job in international health I fear it may remain a dream.

But anyhow, I want you to read Frank's posts, in particular how his experience in the Kibera slum expanded his understanding of the gospel. One brief quote:

On Sunday I came face to face with the ravages of sin and it messed with my sense of humanity. Driving through Kibera on Monday I was made intensely aware of how humanity was being ravaged and the need for redemption. It was all around – I believe God’s anger burns white hot at the depravity of his people that would result in such chaos and destruction of the pinnacle of his creative expression.

In the dirt with those children I found the redemption of the cross – the act that wipes the slate clean, I sensed the victory of the resurrection pointing to a renewed world, I felt the assurance of the ascension, I reveled in the hope of God’s future time of complete restoration where his justice shall be displayed in full and I relished the visible transforming power of that story on display before me in the very lives of those children. Right there, in the middle of human depravity was a small point where the very transforming power of the gospel could be seen. Right in the middle of the darkness there was a light shining very brightly.

I must act, not just out of gratitude for the substitution Christ gave on the cross – no, the story and message of good news (the Gospel) doesn’t end there. Because the Kingdom has come near, it is active. Christ’s work has given me citizenship and I work to transform this world in anticipation and with the hope of God’s complete justice in view. As those children transformed my life, it’s that Gospel that overwhelmed me and I will permit no scholar to demand that I settle for less, no matter how popular their name.

Now go read the whole thing!

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