In dealing with partners like the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya lessons are often learned about how not to do things. We Americans have all kinds of ideas about what is good and bad and what works and what doesn’t. They live with issues everyday that many of us have never even dreamed of. Here is a simple illustration of what I mean. This from http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/kenya/110715/africa-drought-east-africa-drought-kenya-dadaab
NAIROBI, Kenya — East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years is putting 11 million lives at risk, many of them in war-torn Somalia, where thousands of hungry families are making the dangerous trek across parched, violent territory to the promise of safety and food in Kenya. Aid agencies warn the drought is regional — affecting Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia — and the hunger that now stalks the land may become famine. Most of the Somali refugees arrive at Dadaab, a sprawling complex of overcrowded camps in northeastern Kenya built in 1991 for 90,000 people. Today it is home to more than four times that number. It is the world’s largest refugee camp and one of the fastest growing human settlements on the planet. But it is not large enough for the new refugees, who are currently arriving at a rate as high as 1,000 per day. Bowing to international pressure, Kenya’s government has agreed to open a new refugee camp to house some of those thousands of hungry, desperate and bedraggled victims of Somalia’s decades-long war who cross into Kenya. The exodus has accelerated because of the drought that is pushing their already marginal existence to the edge of oblivion. A few miles away from Dadaab’s dusty squalor is Ifo-II, a new $20 million facility for refugees built by the U.N. in 2010. But a year later the gleaming new camp remains empty. The lines of brick houses with tin roofs, deep wells for fresh water, latrines and health facilities are all empty and unused. Kenya blocked opening the camp, complaining that the new facility would encourage more refugees whose arrival could provide cover for Somalia’s Islamist militants who have threatened Kenya in the past, such as the Al Shabaab insurgents. Kenya has suffered several terrorist bombings. “We have security concerns that Al Shabaab could be coming into our country under the guise of refugees,” said Kenya’s security minister George Saitoti earlier this week. But on Thursday Prime Minister Raila Odinga caved into the pressure from aid agencies and the U.N. to open Ifo-II. “Although we consider our own security, we cannot turn away refugees,” he said. The new camp will help to decongest Dadaab, but it amounts to little more than a sticking a bandaid on a gaping wound as refugees continue to flood across the border joining communities that are themselves suffering from drought-created food shortages.
I had a discussion about this kind of “triage” that Kenyans struggle with on a daily basis. The drought was already bad about a year ago and LCMS World Relief and Human Care was offering assistance. When some of the Project 24 guys went out on a site visit they carried as much extra water as they could because they were told there were people literally dying for lack of water. So relief went to Kenyan churches and then to Kenyan people. The influx of refugees was beginning over many areas of Northern Kenya and I heard the discussions as to the Biblical basis of feeding and clothing and giving water to someone who, when healthy and fit again might try and kill you.
I also remember the old adage – “In Africa no good deed goes unpunished”.
I also remember something Jesus said;
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’Lev 19:18.
*and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Compare Luke 6:27-28.
*Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,* how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
So our partners struggle with words of the Lord and they struggle to help their own in the body of Christ. They have chosen a path the we follow in disaster work. Help the church, they become a force multiplier to help all. In so many ways they struggle. Join the struggle. If you can help please go to http://mercyforever.lcms.org/2011/07/africa-drought-crisis/ and hit the give now button.