A Better Christmas – Join Us

Dear Friends and Family,

It has become increasingly clear that the story of Jesus’ birth as God-become-man is wholly, drastically, wonderfully better than what we have created in 21st century America. The story of God-become-man enters into our deepest pains and despairs, into the destruction and brokenness so prevalent in this world, and brings us hope: hope that God is in it with us, and hope that all things will one day be made new.

The Advent Conspiracy tells it best:

With that in mind, I’m grateful for my siblings. Along with our spouses, we have decided we don’t need to spend money on more stuff for each other. Instead, we would rather spend time together, and give money away, and in a small way, be in it with others as God is in it with us.

This Christmas we’re working together to provide consistent access to clean water to the students of Daylight Center and School in Kenya (of which I’m on the board; you can read about my travels there with Becca one year ago).

The Need (from Daylight):
Currently, staff and students get clean water through pipes from the Kapenguria township, but these pipes run dry far too often as drought is a common issue in Kenya. The staff then must take precious time to fetch water from a creek a few miles from the new Daylight property, and then to boil it to kill the bacteria.

Installing a water supply system directly on the Daylight property would insure that staff and students have access to clean water at all times. The total cost of this water supply system is $5,250.00.

$5,250. That’s a lot of money. My siblings and I, unfortunately, will not be covering the costs of the entire water supply system.

That’s where you come in. Will you join us?

You see, $5,250 is a lot of money. But if $53 people gave $100. Or 105 people gave $50, we’d have it covered.

The renewal of all things for which Christians hope is clearly not here. But it is for this we toil and hope. Providing clean water for kids in Kenya is a small step. But it is a step, nonetheless – a step towards a world where children of war-torn tribes can have a safe home, an education, love and yes, clean water. If you’re in, read on…Daylight Kids

From the Daylight website:

How to make an Honor Gift:
1. Donate to Daylight (no matter the amount!).
2. Give or send your giftee(s) a Daylight honor gift card. Here are a few options for how to do that:

  • Print as many Daylight honor gift cards as you like directly from the internet.
  • Email* us at info@daylightcenter.org with your mailing address and how many honor gift cards you would like us to send to you.
  • Email* us at info@daylightcenter.org with a short list of people and addresses you would like us to send an honor gift card to on your behalf.
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My Cozy Christmas Interrupted

A Cozy Christmas
One of my favorite things about Christmas is that it is just so dang cozy, particularly in Minnesota where blizzards and blustery weather is the norm. There is something delightful about it being cold outside and cuddling up inside under blankets hand-knit by grandma, sporting our flannels and our beards warming our faces… the men anyway.

photo

It’s even better at my parents’ house where we’re sure to find a fire roaring in the fireplace, nieces and nephews tumbling over each other to get a cup of CityKid Cocoa after sledding outside – cheeks pink and noses running. Add to that the smell of a pine tree, decorated with strung popcorn and twinkling lights, candles lit on the mantle and John Denver singing carols with the Muppets – it does not get better. Or more cozy.

The Interruption
But as I hold that warm drink, sit underneath a blanket and listen to Christmas carols, a song comes on that goes and ruins the whole thing:

Yes, that song. It ruins everything. The words are incredibly poignant, powerful, and hopeful. But they also have the effect of pulling me out my cozy, comfortable Christmas and reminding me of this world that is terribly, desperately weary.

It is amazing the way we have transformed the celebration of Christmas. It’s painful, really. I mean, the story of Christmas is about all the mess in this world – the poverty, oppression, injustice, depression, loneliness, anger, fear, death, disease, abuse, marginalization and destruction; it is about the God of the universe becoming human and joining us in that suffering and pain; and it is about the God of the universe bringing freedom, new life, peace, justice, and hope that all things will be made right. Yet we have successfully made Christmas into something cozy – with chestnuts, mistletoe, and gifts wrapped up in bows.

Worse, we have allowed the Christmas “season” to be co-opted by a consumer culture that seems to go against all that Jesus stood for – an incessant need for more cheap stuff, even as the world bleeds. This year, as stores opened on Thanksgiving  for the first time – forcing their employees to leave their families and come to work, we didn’t say, “no, thanks.”  Instead we joined in the frenzy for hot deals. Jon Stewart joked that Christmas was “eating other holidays.” But the reality is that Christmas has already been consumed by profits and marketing.

The tragedy of this is that the real Christmas – the birth of Christ – is more massive, more profound, and drastically more beautiful than anything our culture has put in its place. Yet we seem content with cozy.

A Weary World
I love that line, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” It is, indeed a weary world. So weary, it is difficult to comprehend. You know the realities – children dying of starvation, girls locked in brothels. This Christmas conflict rages in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just weeks ago Palestinians and Israelis lived in fear as bombs and rockets destroyed homes and took lives. It was in that same land, 2,000 years ago, that Jesus was born – a land closer to the strife seen in Palestine today, than the cozy couch of my parents’ home.

It is amidst the despair and destruction of this world that God came to earth as Immanuel, God with us. This is the hope to which we look. God suffering with us, celebrating with us, and putting the world to rights. In light of this weary world, that hope and faith is unfathomably remarkable.

I must make a confession: this Christmas, I will sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate. I am giving my nieces and nephews books for Christmas, which I bought on Amazon.com. We took Becca’s parents to the theater. We’re spending money on things we don’t need. I think that’s okay. It’s a delightful time for many families. But I also think we need to think bigger. Much bigger. And we need to believe that it does get better than cozy. Here is how:

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in His name all oppression shall cease.

This is the part of the song when the tears flow and my head nods in hopeful anticipation. This is Christmas. This is what the Son of God came to announce and usher in. This is where we put our hope, and for which we toil. Cozy days are nice, but my goodness, think about a world where slaves are set free, peace and love reign and oppression is no more. This is the incredibly good news of Christmas.

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A New Evangelical Manifesto [Book Review]

In 2004 Evangelicals in the U.S. were the most likely to vote for George W. Bush. Fine.

We were also the most likely to support the war in Iraq, justify torture and reject calls for  abolishing the death penalty. Evangelicals – those whose named is derived from the word “good news” – are the most likely to support war and violence. What’s wrong with this picture?

As I recently shared about Evangelicals embracing people’s stories, it’s also true that Evangelicals are broadening their political ethic beyond abortion and gay marriage. Looking to the Scriptures for a holistic view of life, we have found that the good news reaches to all areas of the world – not only individual morality – and speaks to the pressing issues of our day: including conflict, environmental degradation, consumerism, objectification of women, global poverty and human trafficking (among others).

The New Evangelical Manifesto: A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good, edited by David P. Gushee from The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, moves beyond the narrow focus of the Religious Right. It’s authors represent a new wave of Evangelicals, grappling with the good news of Jesus and what it means for the world today.

There is a lot to be appreciated in this book. Fighting global poverty and preventable diseases are now accepted forms of Evangelical social action, and the book addresses these. But the authors of this book also critique the church’s failure to respond to climate change, and its historic support of war, torture, and nuclear weapons.

While many Christians, including Jennifer Crumpton, are rallying to fight human trafficking, Crumpton also rails against female exploitation and oppression in all its forms – from a ceaseless marketing that objectifies women to churches that continue to tell women they cannot lead or teach. Charlie Camosy broadens the discussion on abortion – promoting a pro-life ethic that also recognizes the plight of impoverished single moms, with whom the church should stand in love and support. We can all agree that Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. Rick Love reminds us that our neighbors are Muslim, and we are commanded to love them as well.

Many of the chapters are bold and smart, and paint a better picture of what the good news can mean in 2012.

The book falls short in a couple ways.

First, the New Evangelical Manifesto does not represent the full picture of New Evangelicals. While Adam Phillips – in his chapter on addressing the global poor – recognizes his privilege as a white male from the United States, and explains that the new face of (Evangelical) Christianity is a woman in Nigeria, the book’s authors do not reflect this change in Christian demographics. If I counted right, one author is a black female, three are white females, and the rest (13) are white males. All from the U.S. While I resonate with most of the chapters and would commend them to you for understanding a broader view of Evangelical concern and action, Evangelicals – even the new ones – have a ways to go in welcoming – and pursuing – voices that are not (only) white and male.

The other shortcoming is the silence on the homosexuality/LGBT rights. The authors take bold stances on the environment, torture, and women’s roles, but fail to enter the fray of the church’s response to people who are gay. The only reference to it can be found in the appendix entitled “Here We Stand”:

We stand against the collapse of marriage and for stronger family life. We are involved in efforts to strengthen the fading institution of marriage and thereby protecting and enhancing the well-being of children. We do not believe that denigrating the dignity and denying the human rights of gays and lesbians is a legitimate part of a “pro-family” Christian agenda, and will work to reform Christian attitudes and treatment of lesbian and gay people.

It’s a good statement, but this is huge right now. While I recognize how divisive it is among Christians, New Evangelicals have to enter this fray. It is a missing chapter in what is otherwise an important step for Evangelicals.

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The Unwelcome Story

Stories: An Evangelical Shift
Stories. They’re a pretty big deal. Donald Miller has been preaching this simple truth for the past several years. Of course, he didn’t come up with it. Cultures around the world throughout history have sat around fires telling stories – ancient stories, familial stories, personal stories. In fact, a whole lot of teachings Jesus gave to his followers were told through stories.

No, Donald Miller didn’t come up with it, but he’s certainly helped many of us Evangelicals see the light in the importance of stories – good stories: the cosmic story of redemption that God is telling, and the stories of suffering, hope and redemption we find in our own lives.

The Christian Community Development Association’s (CCDA) recent annual conference capitalized on this message – there are stories to tell – individual stories that matter. Stories are central to the work of Reconciliation – the conference’s theme. Stories matter to God, and they should matter to us. Christian Community Development workers converged on the Twin Cities to talk about Reconciliation. Richard Twiss emphasized the often untold stories of his people (Native Americans). He confronted us, “You don’t care about us.”

And it’s true, in all of our work for justice, we don’t talk much about Native Americans except for the occasional example of our country’s historical sins. Few of us go to hear the stories of Native Americans and the injustices they continue to face today.

Lynne Hybels explained that it was through spending time with Palestinians and hearing their stories, that her perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began to change. Christian Palestinian Sami Awad shared how, as a young man, he hated Jews – the people who occupied his land and killed his grandfather. But it was when he went to Auschwitz and learned the story of the Jews that he began to love them.

There is a shift taking place among Evangelicals. There was a time – not so long ago – when we had it all figured out. Our theologies were tidy. Our absolute truth confirmed. Our assumptions were facts. Our beliefs were founded on the Word of God. And then. And then we went out into the world and started hearing people’s stories. Their stories challenged our assumptions. Their experiences of the world made us hesitant to use that word “absolute.” Their cultures challenged our own cultural interpretations of Scripture.

For me, like Lynne, it was through meeting a Palestinian Christian that I began to realize that maybe – just maybe – I didn’t have it all figured out (Woah, right?). And what we find, as we become friends with others and hear their stories – is that their stories begin to matter to us. We know, too, they matter to God.

My dad had his own assumptions about immigration. But when he became friends with a Ugandan woman who was at the mercy of a very broken U.S. immigration system that works against foreigners, he started to care about immigration reform.

Some spend time in slums in Kenya and find themselves committing their lives to poverty relief. Others hear the stories of girls enslaved in brothels, lie awake at night weeping, rising the next day to advocate for the oppressed.

Not only do people’s stories change our perspectives and assumptions, they change the course of our lives. They are powerful. They are beautiful. They are important. And when our stories are heard and valued, our humanity is affirmed. Our identity as God’s beloved is reinforced.

Wounds of Ignored Stories
On the flip side, when our stories are ignored we find our dignity affronted, our personhood felt unimportant. There is a wounding that occurs.

I spend a lot of time talking about the poor and the oppressed. I used to live in Nepal, serving among widows and abandoned girls. I’ve spent the past 3 years advocating for children suffering from severe hunger and malnutrition. There have been times in conversation with other Evangelicals when my expressed longing for a more just and peaceful world is met with a curt, Where is God in that? They want to know, Are you also “sharing the gospel” with them? by which they mean “converting them to Christianity,” or “promoting a personal relationship with their Savior.”

I find it frustrating.

It’s not the theology or worldview that I find frustrating. It’s my perception that in their redirection of this stirring in my soul, they ignore my story. I know I’m only 27 years old, and I certainly have a lot to learn, but I’ve also thought a lot about this stuff – about poverty and injustice, about God and God’s plan for the world, about what Jesus meant when he spoke of good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed.

And I haven’t just sat in a classroom pondering the meaning of life – though I’ve done that too. I’ve walked through red light districts in Kolkata and Bangkok and slept with friends in slums in Kathmandu. I’ve walked past – thousands of times – children, men and women who lack sufficient homes and food and clean water; I’ve offered them too little. I have agonized. I have wept. I have tried to understand who God is and how God interacts with this world and what God has to say about the suffering and brokenness all around us.

I want to respond to those who confront my theology, We can talk about orthodoxy, and wrestle with hard questions about how we should live as people who believe in a loving Creator. But please – I beg you – listen to my story. Give me 3 hours over a cup of tea to tell you about the experiences that have shaped my worldview before you try to correct it.

This, really, is a small thing. While it involves what I care deeply about and have invested my life in, it is not my identity being attacked. Even so, small wounds pop up when people seem to confront, and at times reject, without hearing my story.

It’s getting clearer: stories are important. Vitally important. As we learn each others’ stories, we know each other. We can grow to love each other. And in that – we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We also suffer with those who suffer. This story-sharing has spurred the evangelical community to care – about immigrants and people who are hungry or without homes. It has moved us to fight slavery and stand up for the oppressed. We are even learning that our liberation is bound up with theirs. This is a beautiful thing.

The Unwelcome Story
And yet. And yet there is one group whose stories we will not tell. Their stories we will not even hear. Because it’s too controversial. The issue is too divisive. For some in high places, the risk of hearing and telling the stories is too dangerous. You know what I’m talking about.

Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Transgender. (GLBT.)

It’s a big issue. And that is the problem. For most of us, it is simply an issue. As evangelicals we talk about this issue of “homosexuality” and we successfully keep it completely disconnected from people – real people with real stories. Real people who – more than likely – have been seriously wounded by the church; people who have agonized over their sexuality. Andrew Marin shares in his book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, that he walked into Boystown, Chicago and heard the stories of people who are gay. He writes,

The majority of GLBT people whom I have met over my nine years of being immersed in their community-believers and nonbelievers, black and white, men and women-have told me the same thing: when they first realized their same-sex thoughts and attractions they started to pray that God would take those unwanted feelings away.

So, to begin, let’s get beyond issues to people – people and  their stories. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Transgender. People. They are people. Deeply loved by God.

And yet we continue to respond as if the most loving thing we can do is quote a few Bible verses and pray they see the light. We do our duty as a Christian to protect the institution of marriage. We take a stand on the issue, and ignore their stories.

I wonder if gay people feel a similar stir – please, I beg you, just listen to my story. Do you think I have not thought this through? Do you not think I have agonized over this? Before you quote a verse to redirect my life, listen to my story. It’s important.

I think it’s time we as an evangelical community begin to hash through this messy, painful, wound-filled elephant in the room. We must not start with doctrinal statements. We must start by hearing the stories of those who are gay.

An Appeal
I could end it right there. That would be safer. But I feel I must take this step.

In less than a month my state will vote on whether or not to define – in the constitution – a marriage between one man and one woman (something gay people already don’t have the right to). And for the most part, my tribe of evangelicals will go to the polls with their lime green Vote Yes t-shirts, mumble some words about abomination, and tell people who are gay – I am not interested in you. I am not interested in your story. We have it figured out, and your life does not line up. Let us help you redirect your misguided life by writing what’s best for you into our state constitution.

Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment in November is not helpful. It is a line in the sand on an issue filled with broken people on all sides. It is not a conversation, and it certainly does not respect the agonizing, wound-filled, painful and redemptive stories of our brothers and sisters who are gay.

Instead of that, I ask that we vote No.

And then with humility, we share with the gay community that “yes – this is a hard issue for us. We believe the Bible is the Word of God and holds authority in our lives. And as we’ve told you – okay, shouted at you – it says some pretty negative things about homosexuality. But it also tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We know that we long to tell our stories and have them truly heard. To love you as ourselves, we must listen to your stories and really hear you. We choose love over this amendment. We choose to enter the messiness of relationship rather than fail to affirm your dignity and humanity.”

We are learning, thank God, how vital story is to all of life. And we’re learning to tell really great stories. We’re learning to listen too. Are we going to continue to pick this one group of people and tell them, your stories don’t count to us? We can do better. It’s time we start.

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The Suffering God: Moving past easy answers in a world with sex slaves and starving children

Recently I opened up about my struggle to reconcile faith in a good God with a broken, devastatingly brutal world. And not just a broken world. But with individual stories that are so painful, easy answers about God’s goodness become trite, even offensive. The result was a sermon to the church community in which I grew up. In it is a bit of my story – the questions I have asked, and the lingering, shaky hope in a God who suffers with us.

You can find a link to listen here.

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Confessions of a Bible Thumper (Book Review)

My work with Recovering Evangelical has only confirmed the assumption that a large number of young Evangelical adults have grown discontent with the subculture of their childhood, and are looking for answers to hard questions. Whether through individual or corporate wounds, or simple disillusionment with the assumptions that our tribe has it all figured out – there is a growing number of young people dissatisfied with Evangelicalism. Kinnaman and Lyons confirmed this a few years ago in their book unChristian, as they explored the various negative perceptions millennials hold of Evangelicalism (too right-wing, too political, too anti-homosexual, too judgmental, etc.).

But it’s not only my generation that feels uneasy with their faith community. Michael Camp is no millennial. In fact, he joined the Evangelical club during the Jesus movement. But his story, Confessions of a Bible Thumper: My Homebrewed Quest for a Reasoned Faith, offers millennial discontents (and, for that matter, Gen-X, Boomer and Traditionalists) an alternative path forward.

Camp shares his own story – his hesitant entrance into the Evangelical fold, his work with Baptist aid organizations, the slow shifts away from traditional (or current dominant) teachings of the Evangelical church, – through different Confessions. These confessions reveal Camp’s conclusions that take him away from doctrine that fails his tests of reason and into the love of God.

At times Camp’s book gets bogged down in details and in his conversations with friends about his chapters. But his story is one that can resonate with a number of people who have struggled with their faith, and found the pat answers of their tribe coming up short and sounding mighty trite. His confessions include (among others) challenges to traditional views on the inerrancy of Scripture, sexuality, evolution, and finish with an exploration of Christian Universalism.

One might not agree with all of Camp’s conclusions, but his honesty is refreshing and his research and study present challenges that cannot easily be dismissed. Whatever the case, I fully support Camp’s suggestion that Beer and Theology go very well together.

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Kidnapping African Kids

We were ready for an adventure. But maybe not for this one. Michael Kimpur, director of Daylight Center and School in rural Kenya, led us out to what seemed the middle-of-nowhere. Some call it the bush. We went far beyond anything you’d call a road in Michael’s red Toyota SUV. It’s a miracle that thing still runs, but it consistently and miraculously comes back from the edge of complete destruction to faithfully deliver its passengers to their destination. By ‘we’ I mean Michael, two of his kids, his friend Lodea, my fiancee (now wife) Becca, our North American companions, Nathan and Emilie, and me. In a five-seater SUV.

While Michael told us it would be a short trip – making it sound like a casual stroll to a couple nearby villages – we were quickly learning to interpret his explanations of time and distance by multiplying them quite dramatically. The day before, after picking up Nathan and Emilie from the airport, we were told we’d go half-way to Daylight (Daylight being eight hours from Nairobi). A good ten hours later we found ourselves in East Pokot (another 10 hours from Daylight). It was true, though. We couldn’t grudge him that – we had gone halfway to Daylight.

Occasionally we required the direction of guides – young, bare-chested warriors of the Pokot tribe, with well-defined muscles and scars telling the stories of their battles. They walked out of the wilderness, handed us their walking sticks – seen with all Pokot men – set their feet on the step of the car and held on as the Toyota sped past camels, over bumps and through thickets.

Finally, about an hour later, we reached our destination – a small settlement of a few thatched huts, homes of nomadic Pokot. We stepped out of the car, pushing aside our jet-lag haze as sweat beaded on our pink skin under the mid-morning sun.

A few wary Pokot greeted us while the youngest children fled in terror, tears streaming down their faces. Cars were not common in their homestead. Nor were these strange ghost-like beings who stepped out of the car.

I don’t know how they survive out there. It’s a dusty, seemingly barren land with trees that seem to bear no fruit. Their cattle are the only source of sustenance in the wilderness. My only thought was that they must be made of stronger, more resilient stuff than I.

Soon our purpose for this visit became clear. His name is Pembe.

Pembe, a naked Pokot boy – one of the crying ones – hobbled around the rocky ground, hiding shyly behind his mother. A few years prior, their homestead was attacked by cattle rustlers. Amidst the chaos of retreat Pembe fell into a fire. His feet were burned leaving him with a stump on one leg, and a well-burned foot on the other.

Pembe’s parents love him. And they knew that their nomadic lifestyle in the bush is not a place where Pembe could thrive. He might not survive there. When they heard about Daylight Center and School – a place where kids receive an education, a roof over their heads, and the food to survive each day – they insisted Pembe be taken there.

Michael did not intend to take Pembe that day. Pembe’s father replied, “Twice now you have come to talk about Pembe. We want Pembe to go with you. You must not simply talk about taking Pembe. Take him now, or don’t come again.”

With that, 30 minutes after we arrived, Pembe’s mother abruptly scooped him up and put him into the red Toyota. Terror flashed in Pembe’s eyes and a blood-curdling scream came from his lungs as the intents of the adults came clear. His family was abandoning him to these ogre-like creatures who, for all he knew, would likely eat him.

Oh dear Lord. We are kidnapping an African child.

For us North Americans, not used to the rigors of life in rural Kenya, conflict and tension filled our hearts and minds. Emilie spoke for all of us:

“Nathan, we can’t take him from this family.”

Is this okay? Can we really just take this child from his family? Surely he will suffer from feelings of abandonment, not to mention the post-traumatic stress resulting from being given to these people who only God knows what they’ll do with him.

“It’s okay,” responded Lodea. “It’s like this every time.”

Every time? we wondered. Maybe they get used to it. We certainly were not.

Tears welled up in our own eyes as we climbed into the Toyota, Pembe’s screams still filling our ears. We pulled away as the SUV kicked up dust, clouding Pembe’s family from sight in the rear-view mirror.

“It’s Michael’s decision” Nathan affirmed, I think to himself as much as to us.

Whatever our feelings, we did indeed defer to Michael, a Pokot-man who understands the life Pembe knows (read Michael’s Story: From Herds Boy to Daylight Director). And as Director of Daylight, it was his decision.

It’s easy to question responses to desperate situations because the reality is – there are no easy answers. For development “experts,” educated in our books and classrooms in the West, it’s easy to find fault in any decision relating to relief and development. It’s damn messy business and you’re dealing with people’s lives and futures.

But as Michael knows too well, sometimes you must weigh all the possible consequences and make a decision. Then pray to God that the positives of your decisions outweigh the inevitable negatives, no matter what the choice.

As we drove from the homestead, Michael spoke sternly to the still screaming Pembe. Suddenly, Pembe fell silent.

“What did you say to him,” we inquired?

Michael smiled slyly. “I told him if he kept screaming he would get beaten.”

We laughed, knowing Michael would do no such thing. In the silence we reflected on this kidnapping of an African child. We just did that. Our unease lingered.

Moments later an old woman flagged us down, her long earlobes swinging and necklaces around her slender neck bouncing as she approached the car. She seemed a matriarch in this community, wizened by her many years. Peering into the car, she spoke to us about Pembe.

As if rebuking our judgments, she unknowingly spoke to our unease. “It is good that you take this boy. He will not survive out here. But at school he will have an opportunity to learn and have a future.”

She’s right, of course. Pembe is probably better off at Daylight, where he can have a chance to not only survive, but to thrive. It’s incredibly brutal to choose to take him from his family, but rural Kenya does not lend itself to easy choices. Throughout our time in Kenya, Michael taught us about these difficult choices. I deeply admire him for working tirelessly, continually making hard decisions, but always seeking what is best for the children of Kenya and those at Daylight.

Today, 7 months later, Pembe is thriving. He continues to live with Michael’s family and attends school at Daylight. He has fattened up (a good thing in rural Kenya), and he is no longer deathly afraid of white people. In fact, within a week of traveling with us, Pembe warmed quite nicely to his kidnappers (Stockholm Syndrome?) and sent us from Daylight with a big smile, not knowing we wouldn’t return for many months.

The name Pembe, we’re told, means corn, because he was born during the time of a famine, when Food Aid was sent to his community and corn sustained them. Our prayer is that Pembe, and kids like him, grow up to sustain their own communities, using the gifts they’ve been given to transform their country – hopefully creating a world where white people no longer kidnap African kids.

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