THE CHURCH IN KIBERA SLUMS
It was here in Kenya that I first heard the term, “Selfish Service”. I was in a “self serve” line at a large Christian conference, when Osborn said; “We don’t have ‘self service’ here, we have ‘selfish service’. If there are 3 pieces of chicken left and there are two more people to follow you, most Kenyans will quickly take the 3 pieces of chicken and split. Many of them also pile their plates as high as they can, until it is just about to topple over, then they leave most of it uneaten.”
I was curious about this but I have come to understand that this is the result of many years of indoctrination in a “poverty” spirit. Everyone is afraid, if they don’t take it now they believe they will not get their share. This is true in so many area of Kenya Culture. The fight to get onto a bus or a taxi is so intense that it can be dangerous. Just when you are about to step up into the bus, someone else, who thinks they need this bus more than you, might grab you from the back and throw you to the side. The traffic on the roads is the same way. No one will let another car get in ahead of them or wait their turn. Everyone believes that they will be late unless they bully their way through the traffic. Just try handing out a bag of candy to a group of kids. You can yell “one at a time” all you want but they will mob you and grab at the candy and almost rip your clothes off. They cannot resist trying to get more than one either!
You may not believe this but I am not being critical! This is what happens when the vast majority of people live in constant need and are unable to trust God for their provision. There is a spirit of selfishness that pushes people to “get all they can while they can get it”. This also drives the corruption here. So many people are paid so little or they are not paid at all, so they are driven to do all they can to get something for themselves.
Even the slums themselves are the result of a cruel selfishness exhibited by the rich. Rich people in Kenya will hire people for the lowest wages possible. A man or woman will work a whole month for less than $50. Because the wages are so low, people are forced to live in the slums to survive.
The answer for all of this is Faith and Love. The faith to believe that if we truly love; if we put others before ourselves, if we help other people up, that God will see and bless our lives.
So today I preached on the selflessness of love. Here in this place in takes a step of faith just to let someone go ahead of you in the line. I shared this morning about the fact that ‘God is watching” and he promises to reward those who are generous, those who show compassion, and those who put others before themselves in this world. We can be assured that consideration for others will bring us the blessing of God.
In some ways I was preaching to the choir because Pastor John Indagiza and his wife Mary are two of the most loving and selfless people I have ever met. Not a day goes by that they don’t make sacrifices on behalf of others. When you look at their home, their clothes and their belongings, they have nothing, and yet they have given and given and given to the needs of others. They have fed enormous numbers of people and helped them in a thousand practical ways.
The fact that selflessness is being taught and practiced by this congregation gives me reason to believe that this group will make a powerful impact on the culture of selfishness around them. God bless them!
WHAT’S A HAMBURGER?
Like we did last year, we took 15 leaders of the church and their families out to eat after the service, to say “thank you”. I had almost forgotten that they were all people from the slums until two of the young men looked at the menu and asked “What’s a hamburger.” Then they asked “What’s a milkshake”. Looking around, all of these precious people obviously felt “out of place”. I tried to think of what was going on in their minds. Each entrée on the menu cost more than they make in a whole days work”. In the end though they all hugged us tightly and said that this was like “Christmas for them and they will never forget it”. We were so touched!
By the way, I know you didn’t authorize it, but thank you for allowing me to use your money to pour the oil of extravagance over some of the most precious people on earth.