Saturday, January 5, 2008

Update on Kenya (NRR - Not Running Related)

The news this morning from Kenya is encouraging. According to both the BBC and CNN, Dr. Jendayi Frazer (photo from BBC's web site), the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, has been able to talk to both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga and they have agreed to talk together. No one is quite sure what might come out of those talks but possibilities mentioned include power sharing or an interim government leading up to new elections. We'll see. My friends and colleagues in Kenya reported yesterday that things were much more peaceful and seemed almost normal in Nairobi except for the light traffic.

What happened in Kenya was an undeniable tragedy. More people have died in Kenya in other conflicts over the past 15 years but that doesn't make this week's death toll any less significant: 300 600+ people killed; as many as 250,000 displaced (according to the U.N. and reported by BBC and CNN). CNN reports that the Kenyan Red Cross ... is appealing for $15.4 billion in aid for those forced from their homes by the crisis. Pictures sometimes speak more clearly than words. The BBC has posted pictures of the riots here -- captions are in Swahili but the pictures clearly show the violence.

These two articles, written by an IMB journalist who lives in Nairobi, give the most personal accounts of the situation that I've seen anywhere:

Safe amid turbulent times, writer shares concern for Kenyan friends

Kenyans forge ahead to rebuild future, return to 'normal life'

There are a whole lot of factors that have led to the current situation:

• frustration at perceived election irregularities
• frustration at the slow rate of change to full democracy
• frustration at the slow rate of economic progress
• long-standing inter-tribal rivalries and distrust
• opportunism -- thugs taking advantage of the general unrest
• strong egos that won't back down
• sinful hearts

This morning, I read Psalm 10. I was struck once again at how clearly God's Word is relevant to modern times.

In verse 1, the author utters the question that all of us ask when things happen like the events in Kenya this week,
Why, Lord, do you [seem to] stand far off?

Then, in verses 2-11, he describes the evil that he sees around him. Reading that, I was struck at how closely that correlated with the events of the week in Kenya. He not only describes the plight of those who lost their lives or their possessions in the rioting, but he talks about the actions of those who stir up the trouble behind the scenes:
the oppressed are trapped by the schemes the wicked have dreamed up.
The oppressed are both the victims of the violence and those who were incited to participate in violence for the selfish desires of power-hungry individuals.

Verses 12-15 is the author's request to God to intervene and to halt the senseless violence:
Rise up, Lord! O God, strike him down! Do not forget the oppressed! ... Break the arm of the wicked and evil man! Hold him accountable for his wicked deeds, which he thought you would not discover.

Finally, verses 16-18 is a statement of faith in God's response to the plea for peace and protection:
You defend the fatherless and oppressed, so that mere mortals may no longer terrorize them.

Evil, suffering, poverty are the inevitable consequences of sinful choices that every person makes. Nonetheless, God is merciful and does not allow evil to continue unabated. As a believer, I'm obliged to pray that God would intervene and to do what I can to relieve suffering, to live out God's mercy by what I do.

Continue to pray for the people of Kenya.

Run well, y'all (on the roads, trails, dreadmill, and in life),
Richmond, VA
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