No Gathering at Uhuru Park
Today is the 1st of May. In normal circumstances, workers, members and officials of trade unions would be drifting in their numbers towards Uhuru Park for International Labour Day celebrations. Under the scorching sun, they would listen to speeches from those that call the shots in the labor union circles and the government. The President would most likely bring the celebrations to a cheerful end, after promising some goodies for the workers; perhaps an increment in wages or a reiteration of workers’ rights, especially for the most vulnerable among them.
Today however things are different; new. Our lives have been upended in ways we could never have imagined. Although I am aware that everyone I know, is hunkered down and safe, I cannot stop thinking with a lot of anxiety, about families of the already infected persons and those that have lost their loved ones. The uncertainty of the future has also got me apprehensive.
We are all currently sailing deep in uncharted waters. We soldier on, but with a destabilizing unawareness of what magnitude of storm awaits us. Having watched this pandemic ravage the globe, will never take for granted normalcy, the ebb and the flow of the world as we have known it.
Granted, we will not have the usual Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park. As a matter of fact, a lot of the people who normally celebrate this day are unhappy; some have been laid off from work while others have been forced to take pay cuts, thus affecting their livelihoods and those of their families. This Labour Day has fallen on unprecedented times, it is a Labour Day like no other.
A few months ago, I followed a Twitter discussion concerning toxic bosses. A number of Twitter users gave harrowing accounts of the pain of working under such bosses. It was then that I realized how in my short career life, I have been immensely blessed to work under the kindest of men. I have never had ‘boss issues’ at all. I have resolved that if I ever have people working with, for, and or under me, I would handle them with grace.
1 Corinthians 4: 12 says that “… we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled we bless; when persecuted, we endure.” COVID-19 is a trial to all of us, and Paul encourages Christians to endure during such times.
We can do so by:
- Being grateful.
Now more than ever I realize the ground under me could be swept away in an instance. My attitude towards that, however, is not that of fear, but that of a deep appreciation of each moment, person and opportunity I have. To those who have work to do, always be grateful for the blessing of usefulness in work.
2. Being gracious.
If the world was ever hungry for a demonstration of grace, now is the time! Exhibiting it to other people is basically modeling our faith to the glory of God.
3. Showing kindness.
Be nice and kind to those entrusted to you. Everyone is bearing the stress and emotional stability brought about by our collective unknown future.
4. Exercise selflessness.
In the short period, my family has been running a business, it has occurred to us that most entrepreneurs have fallen in the trap of greed; characterized by a need to make unfair profits and to ‘use’ workers, by taking more from them than we give. On this Labour Day, reflect on the condition of the people working for or under you. Be extra kind to them.
Swept by the flood
Whether it bothered the people or not when they saw Noah grind cypress wood and pitch, making a shapeless structure, at least according to the Bible life moved on normally in the community; weddings continued to take place. People savored their barbeques served with chilly and grapes wine. Little did they know about the flood that would sweep them. After 150 days, even though Noah and his family had been saved, life was never the same again. (Genesis 5:32-10:1).
Walls came down tumbling
Similarly, the excitement to reach heaven by the people of Shiner would be cut short sooner than later. All they wanted was to make a name for themselves. God did not sweep them away but you needed to have witnessed the confusion that ensued God’s interruption. How painstakingly long would it have taken for a fundi at the top of the building to ask for one brick (which, abruptly had changed the name in line with new instituted languages) in order to continue with the project! God used the language barrier to interrupt the concerted arrogance of man (Genesis 11:1-9).
Unfortunately, for the fellows in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would never live to see the aftermath of their city, now reduced into a heap of ashes, too consumed by the fire of God’s wrath. They did not know their abominable sodomy had exceeded the elastic limit the night they harassed Lot’s visitors. It must have been a whole new experience for Lot who lost his wife in the process (Genesis 19). (more…)
One day, a teenage girl in a little town of Palestine was visited by a stranger in shining clothes. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” And that encounter, recorded in Matthew and Luke, is forever memorialized in the Nativity stories we see in Christmas Cantatas. More importantly, God entered human history to bring to the world his long-awaited blessing of salvation. Invariably, this story has inspired many works of literature and songs of celebration, not least the timeless Christmas Carol, “Joy to the World.” Written by pastor and hymn writer Isaac Watts in 1719, this cheerful song is a Christological interpretation of God’s final solution to the curse of the fall (Gen. 3:17-18), echoed in Israel’s messianic hope in Psalms 96:11-12 and 98. Understood in light of what God was accomplishing, indeed, the birth of Christ was “good news of great joy for all the people.”
However “kwa ground,” things were very different.
At this time, the people of Israel are living in anticipation of political emancipation from what Zechariah sees as “the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:71). The socio-economic inequalities between the poor and hungry commoners, and the rich and mighty elites needed divine intervention (Luke 1:53). Hearing prophetess Anna’s testimony, one could say that the collective longing for the “redemption of Jerusalem” is personified by this long-suffering widow (Luke 2:38). At the end of Luke, we find two disciples retreating to Emmaus, in a conversation reflecting their disillusionment with Jesus, for “[they] had hoped that he was the one to who was going to redeem Israel” (24:21). But soon, this hope is restored after their eyes are opened: the risen Christ and Lord is right before them (24:31). In an ensuing crash course on Old Testament 101, Jesus helps them understand that his incarnation was not merely to achieve a national aspiration of emancipation, important as that was in a time of Roman oppression. No. Jesus had a much bigger, more inclusive mission: to bring the Abrahamic blessing of salvation to “all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 2:30-31). This was truly a cause for rejoicing!
But–not everyone was rejoicing.
While the choirs of heaven praised God with their glorious melodies, the lowly Shepherds marveled and spread the news everywhere, and the Gentile Magi from the east worshipped and paid homage to the new born king, Herod himself “was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:7). But why? What was good news for the oppressed was a dangerous subversion, a “plague” of hope that threatened his illegitimate rule over Israel. Everyone knew he was not a true Davidic king; he was an ambitious puppet of Rome, bent on securing his own dynasty. His murderous campaign sought to stamp out any hope inspired by an alternative, rival king and kingdom. Unknown to him, the new born king was not interested in vying for president or governor in the next General Election; he didn’t need to. The time for the ultimate confrontation was not yet. In the meantime, Jesus had a greater mission of liberating the whole world from the grip of the curse of sin and evil, of which Herod’s regime was only a part. And he has invited us to be part of this great mission.
Or shall we rival him with our quest for personal kingdoms?
So, as animals lose their lives to garnish our festivities, let us not forget: Christ was born so he could lay down his life for us; for all people. Like Mary and Joseph, let us accept with courageous and obedient faith the honour of being channels of his blessing to the world. Like the Magi, let us unreservedly bow in worship and allegiance. Like Anna and Simeon, let us find consolation in him, as a foretaste of the ultimate fulfillment our hearts desire. And like the Shepherds, let us with a generous spirit and creativity spread the good news of God’s love everywhere. This is the real joy of Christmas.
Transiting from campus is not very certain for most people these days. As final year students leave schools, they have a mixture of ambitions and anxieties. Interestingly, every person takes a path so different from their counterparts. Some find their way into jobs and internships that are high profile and pick pace swiftly in life. Others find a strong footing in ministry and missions work and have a tremendous impact on the lives of other people. Others find better to pursue further education immediately after graduating to increase their knowledge and become authorities in different fields of research. Lately, a rising number of graduates employ their skills, talents and their endowment to pursue businesses of various natures.
Several fresh graduates have unfortunately been frustrated by the systems. To their dismay, what looked like promises of hope have become sources of discouragements. The experiences range from retrenchment, broken promises, undermining conditions, overwhelming expectations, or many other things that can warrant frustrations. The result has been depressed fresh graduates who are vulnerable to irrational reactions.
The pressure of ‘making it’ has not been evitable for many. Unspoken expectations of the families and friends especially those who were the first to experience university can push one to think they have disappointed them. Some feel ashamed to go back to their community ’empty-handed’. They end up pushing themselves hard, to do some unlikely things to win the approval of the community.
To those whose faith is in the Lord, the experiences that add and remove money from one’s reach don’t define them. There are many stories of people participating in the greater needs of society, regardless of their positions. There have been personal and group initiatives to enrich the society by many fresh graduates like volunteering to teach, leading youth groups, forming Bible study groups and helping them run, helping to create professional groups or offer pro-bono services, and many other things. There are countless opportunities for fresh graduates to participate in the life enrichment of themselves and others.
We all have different narratives because God works in our lives differently. If you managed to secure a job either immediately or after a few months of search, you have enough you need for life at this time, we thank God for this gift. My appeal to you would be to reach out to one who is still tracing their path. You can pray for your friends, share job opportunities, go out of your way and host another or even send airtime to another. Consider having meetups to just find out how another is doing. Like James would say, when a brother or sister is without clothing or lacks enough food for each day, do what is necessary for them at that time. Don’t just tell them to go in peace and that the Lord would bless them.
Finally, whether you have settled in a well-paying job or are still navigating through the hustles of life, we bless the Lord for you because it is He who sustains us. Whether you are paying rent or still living with your parents, we thank God for putting a roof above you. In any situation you are in, take that leap of faith and praise God in the storm. Move-in with a trustable friend or an aunt, take risks and be open to opportunities. Go out and whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your heart and strength as if unto the Lord.
From the FOCUS Kenya family, we pray that you will fight the good fight of faith and take hold of the eternal life to which you were called to.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Conviction and Call
I can still recall the voice of the Missions Director brother Calisto Odede, during Commission 88. I was the Kenyatta University Christian Union (KUCU) secretary during that year. I remember listening to him being convicted to avail myself to serve the Lord as He sends me. (more…)
Increased cases of suicide cases
According to the World Health Organization in 2000, throughout the world, approximately 1,000,000 people died of suicide. More than 50% of this constitutes the youth who are in higher levels of education; colleges and universities. This translates to a global mortality rate of 16% or one death every 40 seconds. This makes the number of deaths by suicide worldwide higher than the total number of deaths from war and homicide combined. This only means that preventive measures have to be put in place if we will save the current and even future generations.
the number of deaths by suicide worldwide higher than the total number of deaths from war and homicide combined.
In contemporary African society, suicide was viewed as an offense and a sign of bad omen, a belief that could have been the reason why many people shied away from committing suicide. Those who were caught committing the offense faced dire consequences. This, however, is not the case today. Through civilization, modern education and western influence; the narrative has changed. Such exposure among other factors has contributed to the high number of suicidal cases in society. (more…)