A Christian Journey
PAUSE for THOUGHT in KENYA and BEYOND
1 June 2022
The mighty Masai Mara Reserve is a wonderful place to see the creation of God.
On a visit there, I was excited to see the wonderful animals in their own habitat. The powerful elephant, the lion – the king of the beast, leopard, cheetah, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, buffalo. But also, how wonderful to see the little birds on the backs of the buffalo, the tiny bat-eared fox and the mongoose.
All of these animals have been made by God and all have a place in His Kingdom. God tried to show us that these animals could tell us something about His Kingdom, which seems to be upside down to what it is like on earth.
Isaiah 11:6 (GNT) says:
'Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats. Calves and lion cubs will feed together and little children will take care of them.'
Animals in the wild are very dangerous and great care has to be taken not to interfere with their lifestyle. Otherwise, we would soon find out that leopards like young goats to eat – not to lie down with them. Lion cubs would like a nice calf for supper and children would be in great danger.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not like here – it is much, much better. Thank God for that.
8 June 2022
I noticed a magnificent specimen of a palm tree in Nairobi. It looked good and stood tall. But if you looked closely at it you would notice, as I did, that it had another tree species growing in its fronds, which was acting as a parasite.
It seemed to me that the wind or a bird had carried the seed of another tree and dropped it into the fronds of this tree, which had taken root. This new tree had flourished and, in fact, had fruits forming.
How long could this continue? Sooner or later the new branches would die because they were not rooted well enough in the earth, or the host tree would be strangled by this new growth. It would be survival of the fittest.
John chapter 15 tells us about Jesus being the vine. Verse 5 says:
'I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me.'
To be fruitful and productive for God, we must be an integral part of the vine – not just a parasite!
Photo: Example of a Kenyan parasitic plant
15 June 2022
Some years ago, I was in Bostwana at the Chobe National Park. This park is home to 45,000 elephants and I was not disappointed. I did not see 45,000 but I did enjoy seeing many, many elephants of all sizes.
One thing that took my notice, in particular, was a group of adult elephants and some tiny babies. When the vehicle I was travelling in stopped to view the animals splashing about in the mud, it was a signal to the adult elephants to very quietly and gently nudge the babies into a safe place within a circle of adults. If we were not sitting there watching this happen, it would not seem as believable as it was done without fuss or noise. They just stood there protecting the young without even the young noticing that there was any apparent danger from humans.
Sometimes we do not know the danger that surrounds us. But our Heavenly Father, without fuss or noise, spreads His mantle of protection around us. He is a God who protects. He speaks about this in many places in the scriptures.
In Matthew 23:37 (GNT) Jesus says: ‘How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!’
Deuteronomy 33:27a (GNT) says: ‘God has always been your defence; his eternal arms are your support.’
What a comfort to know that in the troubles and dangers of life, we can take the words of 1 Peter 5:7 (GNT) for ourselves: ‘Leave all your worries with Him, for He cares for you.’
22 June 2022
On Sundays when I went walking around Kabete, a suburb of Nairobi, I would meet up with a whole bunch of street kids. They would hold my hands and walk along with me for a while. This is the heartbreak of Nairobi. They probably never had a nutritious meal but contented themselves with maize meal flour and water – a meal called ugali. (There are an estimated 66,000 street kids in Nairobi alone, and they scavenge and steal to exist.)
Some of the children were very young. It was not uncommon to have six-year-olds on the street and some are very much younger than that. Sometimes an older brother or sister had a three- or four-year-old sibling in tow as the parents or mother was dead (often from AIDS) or was unable to provide for them.
Of course, they asked me for money, but I did not carry any money or valuables on my walks, so they understood that and did not pester me. They were happy just to walk for a while with someone who cared. They showed their trust by holding my hand.
The Salvation Army in Kenya distributed food from money donated by more wealthy countries, especially in the times of severe drought, and it was a joy to see children being able to have a meal.
Some people are not starving through lack of food, but they are starving in their spiritual life. In John 6:51 (NASB) Jesus said:
‘I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, they will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.’