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The Incongruities of Africa

There are so many inconsistencies around me in Kenya that almost defy explanation. Some are so simple as to be laughable and others have eternal consequences. For instance, I am writing this post at the Java House. It is an internet café with exceptionally good coffee, beautiful outdoor gardens, and food like you would find at any mall in America. Yet, I am sitting here today with three day’s growth of beard and desperately in need of a shower because of a water shortage in Nairobi coupled with a small water leak near our compound. I can get a world class cup of coffee but not enough water to drink or flush the toilet.

Another of the crazy inconsistencies is the ugliness of poverty, slums, and dirt everywhere but some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen and they are everywhere!

Another incongruity is the proliferation of cell phones or mobiles as they are called here. Almost everyone has a mobile though no one has a monthly plan. They buy cell phones on the used market for about $25 USD and a sim card for $5 USD. Then, when they can afford it, they buy a “top up” card for whatever amount of Kenya Shillings they can afford, usually on scratch cards ranging from 25 KS to 1000 KS. Today’s rate of exchange is about 78 shillings to the dollar. Because in country text messaging is free, even the homeless and the unemployed walk around with the mobile in hand. Yesterday, we drove over rutted mountain red clay roads for miles into the hinterlands. Yet, even there you see the ever present cell phone towers.

The list could go on and on, but the most disturbing incongruity is this. Nairobi, Kenya, has been the launching pad for western missions into sub-Saharan Africa for over a century and there are thousands of churches and a claim by even the government to be a Christian nation. However, due to churches teaching a mixture of spiritism, Christianity, tribalism, and prosperity doctrine., there is still a proliferation of polygamy, abuse, female circumcision, slavery, witchcraft, poverty, and corruption.

Kenya needs the prayers and the discipleship of God’s people. It is not enough to go preach a crusade and plant a church. They are in desperate need of theological training and practical Christianity and old-fashioned discipleship. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like another land of incongruities – the United States. Hmmmm!

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