figuring out the worth

8 04 2015

This week has been a pensive one for me.  We have been going through all our photos of our travels together to put a wall-hanging together. 

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We have some beautiful pictures from amazing places.  And we have said, over and over, how amazingly grateful we are for the beautiful things we have seen. 

But the beautiful places are full of PEOPLE. 

People who matter. 

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And I am amazingly grateful for the people we have had the chance to meet.  Sometimes so very briefly.  And sometimes we had a chance to be a part of lives for a little longer. 

I got to teach a few lessons at LivingStone University in Mbale. 

And oh, how those faces have come back to me this week.  Seeing the chairs,(similar to the toppled, blood stained ones in a dry Kenyan university) those eager faces, and knowing that there is so much potential sitting in those lives to make a difference in a place that really needs it… the emotions stir and the images get all jumbled together.

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I have a confession to make.  This week I have been a facebook stalker.  And a google trawler.  I have searched for names.  I have looked for pictures.  I have tried to find out about LIVES that these young people lived.  And above are a few of the faces that stood out.  Just look at the SMILES.  That girl on the top left, Lydia.  She is beautiful.  I see pride to be where she is.  And it is not what the west would consider a stately university.  Janet, the picture besides Lydia.  Look at the environment she is in, but see that deep joy shining from her.  Janet’s text message has gone viral.  She wrote of the danger they were in, and sent a final message of love to her people. 

The dapper young man holding… a Bible?  Valuable school books? Erick Ondari Nyabuto.  That is his name.  Possibilities.  Loved by family.  Hopeful. 

One of the people who has stuck out to me the most is the dude in the orange Tshirt.  Can you read the words there? They say “THE HOLY SPIRIT.  You can do it, He will help.”  This guy was not afraid to shine.  Dadley Mose, that is his name. He did not hide his faith, in a divisive environment, where religious tensions could be felt everyday.   He had almost 5000 facebook friends. (Go trawl through Dadley’s facebook page.  I wish I knew this guy in person.)  His aim was to change Kenya. 

Dadley Mose

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I believe that Dadley was one of those who stood up, tried to protect others.  And although he has no more days on this earth, I pray that the seed of his life and testimony will lead to life.  And maybe his life could still change Kenya.  And the world.

You see, this was not Just Another African Thing.  All those 142 lives had been God-breathed.  They had purpose.  They were loved.  One of the students had the entire village contribute funds to go study.  A mother sold two cows for another.  One parent wished that his child had failed school rather than go to university to be killed.

Education in Africa is HUGE.  It costs.  It may take days for a student to get to school: via bodabodas (motorbike taxis), daladalas (minivans, loaded with mattresses, suitcases and food for school) and even a good amount of walking.  

So the young lives paid a cost to get their education.  The families paid a price, not to have the hands that may have been needed for planting, harvesting, bringing in water, cleaning… life in Africa requires energy.  From all.  

And on that Thursday morning there was an ultimate cost.  The first place targeted was a prayer meeting.  At 5h30 am on a Thursday morning there were students praying.  I am sure that this was not a once off meeting.  If my experiences of Africa are right, these young people would have been praying every morning.  Early.  Paying a price in prayer. 

And when the gunmen came, they were not ashamed.  Apparently, if students could not recite the Shahida, or Muslim acknowledgment of faith, they were lined up and shot.  There was a price to pay.  I wonder how many KNEW the Shahida, knew the words to say… This northern area of Kenya had a very strong Muslim presence and all across East Africa Muslims and Christians grow up together, perhaps knowing the right words to say.

But they paid a price.  People who knew Muslim-committed words did not speak them.  Young lives spoke out their belief in Christ.  142 students lost their lives.  At least another 80 lie in hospital with gunshot injuries.  Because they paid a price.  Because they were students, seeking education.  Because they had faith in a Saviour.

My own experiences in life have given me a tiny glimpse into paying a price.  I was the kid all through school who felt the jibes and teasing for not being quiet about my beliefs.  My heart was pained but I never had my life threatened.

When I knew I was called to serve in a missions way, the choices were between a closed African country and India.  I went to India for 9 months.  I knew there was a price to pay.  We stayed in areas where believers, those coming from the west, were killed.  We were warned by our friends of particular times when the chances of attacks were higher. 

In Uganda, Deon’s life was threatened because he stood for what was right.  There were voices calling for his head to be chopped off.

These were tiny pictures of the threat that several face regularly just for believing. 

And the Spirit stirs in me this need to get the message out.  Are we really content with a lite version of faith?  Are we happy to be in our safe little worlds, where, if we are honest, there is no real price to pay? 

Jesus challenged those who would follow Him over and over.  He turned away a rich young man, because that man could not bear to pay the price. The disciples left all they had and followed.

How would this world be different if we really started to pay the price that faith is all about?  The hours spent really seeking God in prayer, for nations where violence for belief is an everyday thing.  If we paid the price in money for those who have needs around us.  If we were willing to move beyond Our Comfortable Lives to do those things, everyday, that true obedience to the Cross requires.

Jesus paid everything He had.

And I cling to my little comforts, like this is all that matters. 

It doesn’t. There is an eternity that far outlasts this flighty time we have. 

And I hear the words my granny said, that my daddy so often repeated too:

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If God speaks to you about obeying, paying, living for Him, please follow His prompting.  The rewards of obedience are soul-satisfying, and He takes you places you could never have imagined.

And please could you pray for those hurting in Kenya? For the parents still waiting several days later to know if that dear child of theirs is among the dead.  For the friends traumatised by being under siege for almost a full day.  For the many believers who now fear going to church, going to school, living their lives because it may put them in direct danger. 

Pray that believers may have wisdom to know how to live lives that bring forth fruit.  Fruit that lasts.  And that we may not be afraid to pay the price, so that the Kingdom may grow. 

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.

John 12: 24 , NLT

 

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