Last week on Thursday, i was in Kibera with a group to do community service. I arrived earlier than everyone else so I opted to have breakfast at a nearby cafe while I waited.
Soon after, i met our contact person on the ground-an ex con turned pastor with an interesting story about how his life was turned around. Listening to it was amazing; it sounded like something akin to Saul’s conversion when the extremities in lifestyle pre and post conversion are compared. The intention for the day was as I assumed, to help the women make cards out of recycled paper. However that was not to be-we ended up doing door to door evangelism instead; something that we had been told not to do, as it was already done before. I must admit I wasn’t pleased at what I perceived to be poor planning but then i figured, you know what, the planning and communication may not have been the best, but out of it, we were granted the opportunity to talk about Jesus to people some who we’d hoped would encounter this message for the first time. I guess all things work for good. 🙂
So off we went-catching up with converts in the slum, meeting one non receptive woman who was more into moralistic traditionalism than Christianity. We then visited another man’s house; a man named Mark who had just been saved. It was at Mark’s house that we had a turning point.
Mark identified himself as a Catholic, but recently accepted Jesus Christ into his life as well as his wife. From my estimation, it had been no more than a month since his conversion. Mark let us in and we had a good chat with him and his wife. I was rather dismayed at how small their house is and the fact that they have two children none of whom is old enough to go to school yet. He’d spoken of getting a few bananas for us to eat-he insisted prior to us entering his one-room shack and once we were in he set off to get them. However when he was back, he came with a loaf of bread and two one-litre sodas’ a coke and fanta orange. The feeling around the room was one of uncertainty. Because you see, we know the statistics. People in Kibera are very poor. A lot of the time, people work more than one job to scrape a living. N.G.O’s are usually here doing one thing or another. A lot of the time the impression given is that it is they who ought to receive and that poor slum dwellers are incapable of offering anything…or so we think.
Prior to doing our little door to door mission around Kibera slums, we’d been told by the guys in charge who too are residents of Kibera, that we need to communicate love to the guys. That they hear people preaching and probably have for many people, the ‘furniture’ necessary to understand the gospel but have rarely seen the love that ought to come with it. We were to communicate the reality of love and fellowship that comes in its purest forms only from the gospel. And here we were in a one-room shack being given an example of what it would look like, only this time, it was us receiving this lesson.
I honestly felt blessed being in Mark’s home with his wife and two kids. We talk about hospitality and fellowship amongst believers as loft and beautiful ideas but when the rubber meets the road, there’s a number of reasons ‘why it just can’t work as we’d hoped’…i believe that as Christian believers who are at the very least middle class (you have internet access don’t you? ) we need to repent continuously and be transformed by the renewing of our minds on this. If a man can bring a day’s salary worth of food for unexpected guests and go out of his way to make us feel comfortable in his home, then what keeps us back from doing the same?
In Mark’s home, i kept thinking to myself, the hope and joy that are inherent in his and his wife’s conversations with us cannot be conjured up by the futile and decrepit arguments of New Atheism or whatever other misguided philosophy out there so why don’t we do what naturally comes to us? Fear?Disobedience? These are things worth pondering about.
In an article dubbed Answering Skeptics Without A Word; Christ Castaldo shows how important acts of mercy and I’d add hospitality are in accompanying the gospel. I feel you ought to read it for yourself lest I expound on something that’s already been said.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is, let us not downplay hospitality. You simply need to read The Acts of the apostles and see how God uses the gift of hospitality to edify the church and draw people to himself.
All in all, let us be known by our love for each other as believers no matter the ‘cost’ to us.