Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Isn't Kenya Already Evangelized?

One of the questions we get from time to time is "Why does Kenya need missionaries, isn't it already a Christian nation?"  Of course part of that question is true.  Many millions of people in Kenya have been exposed to the Word of God.  Our mission combines meeting the physical needs via clean water and health with meeting the spiritual needs via further exposure to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, which we believe are equally still in need here and exhibits the type of ministry Christ lived out.

Take for example the current terrorism and conflict revolving around the al-Shabab group.  This group is well entrenched within the Kenyan Somali community.  We have had explosions in crowded Nairobi areas the last two days in a row.  There is no greater reason to share the message of Peace that only Christ can deliver to the hearts of these men.  

Another truth is that the Message has been distorted or misunderstood in very fundamental ways.  I am not talking about theological differences that separate Roman Catholics / Presbyterians / Pentecostals but real loss of meaning and purpose of the Word of God.  Here are two very real examples from my time in the field over the last couple of weeks.

A completely corrupted understanding of the fall of man.

This church believes that when Eve and Adam ate of the fruit they experienced blessing that live on to today.  From the time of early childhood most everyone within the Christian world has an understanding, whether they choose to believe it or not that when Adam and Eve turned their backs on God in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1–6), the consequences of their sin were devastating and far-reaching; they affected the very order of the universe. This church leader is in desperate need to understand that at least four relationships were broken through the Fall. First, Adam and Eve’s intimate relationship with God was broken (Gen. 3:8–9). This was the primary relationship for which they had been created, the most important aspect of their lives. When their relationship with God was broken, their other relationships were damaged too: their relationship with themselves as individuals (Gen. 3:7, 10), with each other as fellow human beings (Gen. 3:7, 12, 16), and with the rest of creation (Gen. 3:17–19). The universe is intricately designed and interwoven. It is holistic, composed of multiple parts, each of which depends on the proper functioning of the others. All parts are governed by laws established by God. When the primary relationship between God and humanity was severed, every part of the original harmony of God’s creation was affected. The results of this comprehensive brokenness have plagued humanity ever since. War, hatred, violence, environmental degradation, injustice, corruption, idolatry, poverty and famine all spring from sin.  There is major work to be done here. 

The wonderfully beautiful Mugumo Fig tree of Ngai (Sacred Kikuyu Tribe tree ).
The Kikuyu people have traditionally been monotheist, Ngai was the creator of everything and active in their lives.   So missionaries found a easy entry into being able to tie Christianity into already existing principles.  Last week near Mount Kenya a local tribal leader and pastor was gracious enough to teach a group of us on a cultural field trip from Lillian's 6th grade class about their Mugumo tree.  We learned that this beautiful fig tree was a gift from God because it grew from heaven down to earth which is really cool.  He explained that it started growing in another tree and actually consumed it's host as it grew towards the earth.  The tree has magical properties too which are very interesting.  If you walk around the tree 7 times it has the power to change your sex.  Male to female, female to male, whatever the case may be.  Upon learning that we were a group of missionary parents and kids he was excited to show us that his church was also Christian.  On the back side of the Mugumo is a door carved into the trunk with the 10 Commandments painted on it, behind the door is a Bible dedicated to Mugumo and Ngai.     

There is a very real mix of traditional beliefs and religions, our job, as best as God empowers us, is to bring His light into this world.  This is as true in Kenya or the USA as in "unreached" regions of the world.

Loving our life here, please continue to pray that we are useful tools of God,