"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Light in the darkness.

"I want my parents to love me so much. What can I do? I don't want to be separate from them."
"I am pregnant. What do I do if my parents don't allow me to stay at home?"
"Why do adults rape small children?"

Is your heart breaking right now?

Those are just some of the questions we received when a group of us went down to the Shimo slums and talked to students ages 12 to 18. We asked them to write down any question they had on a note card. The questions ranged from American government and The Bible to rape, pregnancy, AIDS and sex. In Kenyan culture, things like AIDS, sex and relationships are not spoken about. Parents do not even talk to their children. It is a culture that strives to be stoic. The end result is that no one is educated on these topics. HIV/AIDS is a taboo subject and most people aren't even aware if they are carrying the disease because they are afraid to get tested. Boys rarely understand what it is to respect girls and girls don't even know that they deserve to be respected. Rape is a common occurrence. Teenage pregnancy is rampant and HIV is being spread like wildfire. They don't even know that there is another way of living, that there is hope, that there is a light in the darkness and that that light is Jesus.

It's hard to put yourself in the shoes of these teenagers. Especially the girls. Looking into their eyes, I could almost see the pain. When the word 'rape' was mentioned I noticed quite a few look down at the ground and begin fidgeting. I wanted to run over and hug them. Most of us will never understand the hurt that they have been through. As Americans we don't realize how lucky we are to have the laws and the government that we have. Maybe we don't agree with everything that our country says but we cannot deny the fact that they take care of us. There is justice. There is peace. There are laws that are enforced.

Last week a few of us watched Hotel Rwanda. After it was over and we were all in somber moods, Meredith began telling us some of what was going on during the post-election violence in Kenya two years ago. An estimated 10,000 people were killed when two opposing tribes began fighting. Can you imagine anything like that happening in America? Here in Kenya, the candidate that lost the election was actually encouraging it by suggesting people have "peace marches" to protest his loss. Well, his peace marches included quite a bit of violence! It would have gotten worse if the United Nations hadn't stepped in the moment "genocide" was mentioned. Due to the Rwanda genocide and the disaster that they made of it by not doing anything at all, they were a bit more conscious about not letting something of that magnitude happen again. In my opinion, they were still about 10,000 people too late. I mean, what do they consider a genocide... the entire country being murdered?

Keep Kenya in your prayers.

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