the most succinct way to sum up the difference between christians in america and christians in kenya is that americans believe in God while kenyans trust God.
aside from anything that i thought i might be able to help kenyans with when preparing for my trip here, i was hoping that in some way this trip would help me sort out some ideas i had about christianity, and what it means to be a christian. to say i had a fairly cyncical view on most things related to christianity is pretty accurate. also, the feeling of people acting a certain way because they think thats what christians do rather than because they are sincere gave me uncomfortable associations with even the most necessary and best things in christianity, prayer and reading the bible. i cant pinpoint where some of my feeling came from, but i have some idea as to parts.
the root of it comes to how i feel/felt fake or false doing much of the things which are expected acts of christianity. and there is nothing that i hate more than putting on a front of any kind, so i avoided the things that game me those feelings. and i also hate cliches which im using right now. cause sometimes there isnt any other way to say what you mean and be understood. what was odd about this spiritual "dry spell" was that i was doing many of the things that as far as i know a christian is supposed to do, and loving every bit of it. those things came from my involvement with after school programs, and planning my trip to kenya. it seemed odd to me that i was spiritually stagnant, yet never more sure of the decisions which i had made that allowed my involvement in these programs and my trip to kenya. also, the swiftness which the doors had opened for these respective activities was amazing.
so among other things, i hoped prior to the trip that i could gain some perspective of all that prayer and reading the bible stuff.
by getting immersed in the culture and getting to know the people here better it really becomes obvious how different christianity is in kenya and america. this difference, and how kenyan trust looks or might look in america are topics that sarah and i have spent a lot of time discussing. sarah was about 2 years ahead of me on all topics related to kenya and spirituality. as i have come to realizations about some things and mentioned them to sarah, her response has been along the lines of, "well yea, thats what iv been trying to figure out for two years!" its been good to be able to talk to sarah about things which she has thought about and struggled with for some time, while i am just arriving at the questions.
what we keep coming back to in all these conversations is what does this kenyan level of trust look like in america, especially as college age students. but that question really applies to any point in life. in america there isnt the issue (for me or anybody reading this blog probably) of where the next meal will come from. another issue, is how do we convey the difference we experienced over here to anybody who hasnt had the same experience? despite all my friends who have taken trips here, nothing really got to me just from hearing their stories in remotely the same way that spending 2 months here has. while that makes some sense, it is a story that american churches need to hear. and more importantly understand. but again, how? dont have an answer yet.
i have examples that i can remember from growing up of many times when our family didnt necessarily have the money to pay for things, but it would be provided from somewhere unexpected. so i have seen similar types of trust in God exhibited by my parents. but again, this still comes from a position of not having much money. and that is not the position that a majority of american christians are in. so how does it look especially when somebody does have enough money to live a comfortable life? trusting God becomes harder and harder the less reliant a person has to be on God in their basic needs of life. so not a lot of answers so far. but im very thankful to have learned enough thus far to be asking these questions.
im sure there will be more musings along these lines in the future