Over the past 8 months or so, we have had the opportunity to meet many new people and make many new friends - with a surprising number from Africa! We try to take every opportunity to spend time with these natives of this massive continent, to talk about their lives, their adventures, their reasons for being in the States, and what some of our soon-to-be-cultural challenges will look like.
Tasha was roughly 7 weeks pregnant and had a feeling that she needed to see a doctor. We were on the road, so we used our insurance reference page and went with the first doctor on the list. When he came into our room, he spoke with a wonderfully thick Nigerian accent (Only appropriate seeing as how he came from there). He looked over the baby and found everything well except some low hormone levels that a supplement took care of. He also took the time to talk to us about his experiences in Africa. He has been very blessed to have a good education and was from a family who could afford his education. He was even more blessed to have the opportunity to practice in the United States. He is now one of our supporters.
The next person we met was from Sierra Leone. He was a pilot (therefore a nut and formed an instant connection with Kevin) and loved sharing his adventurous world travels. He told us of one trip through Africa and a lunch at a “chicken” stand. As he began eating, he noticed the bird was larger and chewier than normal, and it had some extra tendons he wasn’t used to seeing. It didn’t take long to deduce what he was eating! Soon after, he returned to the “chicken stand” and asked for a plate of “vulture.” The cook/owner/chef paled immediately and said they did not serve vulture. Our friend, being the humorous man he is, continued to badger (they eat that too) the cook, adamantly requesting vulture again! Eventually, the two had a laugh and he was served his mystery meat. His lesson to us was to just realize that when meat runs low, eating any meat found, such as monkey, vulture, or snake, is not out of the question!
The third person we met was a sweet man from Zambia who was in the States enrolled in a Master’s Program at a university in Illinois. He was very excited for the opportunity to further his education and career, but he had to leave his family half way around the world. He was also working a part-time job to come up with the money to bring his family to stay with him. While he is away, no one is available to take care of his family so having them to come live with him at school would better their opportunities for living. We spent a lot of time in prayer and he was very excited to meet someone who was going to serve in his home continent. He also provided a lot of insight into the spiritual condition of the Congo/ Zambia area. He is now one of our prayer warriors.
There have been several others and after learning their stories, we asked how we could help positively impact their home. Their responses were all the same and not at all what we expected.
We were told tale after tale, describing how much of Africa was built on war. Life is all about the age old rule “an eye for an eye.” When anger prevails, it becomes tribe against tribe. When money is involved, it becomes militia against civilian. When natural resources are the livelihood, it becomes government against citizens. It all ends the same; too many empty bellies are being ignored. Voodoo and witchcraft have become the cure for the all too common epidemic, and the sacrifice of animals and people must be made. War is normal, and children are abducted and forced to fight.
As missionaries began to enter into the picture, natives were told of a God who so loved them, He sacrificed His only Son so we could ALL be saved. The concepts of love like a child and sacrifices were graspable, but why did Jesus not punish those who crucified Him. Where were the 12 legions of Angels seeking vengeance? They were all taught “an eye for an eye.” Why did God’s powerful Son not seek retribution from those who “wronged” Him?
Forgiveness.Something so simple we teach our children but it is something so difficult to grasp for an entire culture. Forgiveness is powerful. People who have been horrifically scarred are suffering from mental and emotional anguish to the point they cannot function physically. Praise God for the necessary help we provide the many ministries who fly with us, and praise Him even more for the encouraging results! The power of Jesus and the Comforter He promised teaches them to forgive the past, with results so extreme it can only be from the Creator. Who is going to demonstrate and proclaim forgiveness? We are-the body of Christ.