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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Spared from injury or death in Kenya - why?

A "missions" trip
Four of us from our home church have just returned from a 'missions' trip to Kenya. Inverted commas, because if anything it is reverse missionary work for the westerner. We must never think of ourselves as some great white "bwanas" out there to help the poor "natives".  That is not just imperial contempt, it is spiritual self-deception. African Christianity probably has more to teach us than we will ever teach it. Why? Because suffering for the sake of Christ, rather than knowledge, riches or organizational abilities is the badge of true Christianity - and African Christians know what suffering for Christ's sake is all about.

With that common misunderstanding off my chest, there are perhaps some things westerners can contribute to the Africans, as well as the more numerous things they can contribute to us. Perhaps we can encourage local pastors-leaders to train other pastors so that the "mile wide and inch deep" African church may mature itself by the grace of Christ.

The art of ART
This is where African Rural Trainers comes in. Established by Jeremy and Jan Peckham, it seeks to equip three full-time men to train other pastors. 150 pastors are due to complete their training next year and 500 more may sign up for the second round next year. 

Two elders from Manor Park church went with Jeremy and Jan to do a lot of learning, a little teaching, and to be an extra pair of eyes and ears for Jeremy and Jan.

We went for ten days, and on day four we were spared from serious injury or even death....

The accident
the car after rolling
The brief account is this: on the B3 from Narok to Bomet we were hit from behind by a truck which caused us to spin 180 degrees and hit the car in front. The car in front then came off the road but managed to come to an uneventful stop. After being hit, our Toyota Voxy (a big eight-seater MPV) rolled over and over, landing driver side beside the road in a wide rain ditch. One of our number was thrown out of the car as it span but was not crushed by the car as it came to rest right beside her.

Another came out of his seatbelt. (For the physicists among you, he was seated at the pivot of the spin where the g-forces are smallest and so his seatbelt did not lock.) On the last roll the top half of his body, but not his waist and legs, was thrown out of the window and he saw the car roof falling to his chest - but it came to rest just inches away from him and he was able to clamber free.

Miraculously no serious harm was sustained to the six of us apart from minor cuts, bruises and aches. We were shaken and sobered, but we are still in the land of the living.

the car after being turned right
Looking at the written off car (below, right) a few days later we wondered how anyone could have emerged without serious injury or even death.

The saddest part
Tragically, after hitting us, the truck went on to smash into a car coming in the opposite direction. All three occupants were called from time into eternity in the twinkling of an eye.

Two of the three who died were pastors - for all we know, rural pastors.

the car at the police depot
Sober thanksgiving and reflection - why were we spared?
A few days later we returned to the sight of the crash to pray - and reflect.  God spares us for a reason, and one of those reasons is to renew our vows to walk upright in his sight:

I am under vows to you, O God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you
 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God

in the light of life. Psalm 56:12-13
praying at the scene days later

But why were six believers spared while three were lost? Perhaps God has further purposes and plans for our lives. For sure, it has nothing to do with the merit of the six or the sinfulness of the three. Rather it has everything to do with God's mercy on the one hand and his inscrutable purposes on the other. 

We were enabled by God's grace to continue with the trip and found ourselves just perhaps, a little bit more fit to speak to God's suffering people in Kenya.

We pray for the families of the three who lost their lives, and for the two congregations who gathered at the police compound a few days later to mourn and wail the loss of their dear pastors.

1 comment:

  1. A moving account and powerful sermon at church today