It’s been almost three weeks since I last posted a blog (And this one is being posted after 1 AM, so I blame any crazy statements or grammatical errors on the time). The truth is, any spare moment I have found over that time has gone to sleeping or eating. The last two Saturday nights I slept a total of 9 hours and then worked 14+ hour Sundays (sleep deprived sermons may entertaining to some, but they can be painful for the preacher).
Between teaching at JMTI, ministry at Lingadzi, getting ready for a Mission Trip to Mozambique and preparing for the arrival of a team from LJPC, I’ve had little time to process the world’s happenings or my own experiences. I haven’t written much, which is a shame because there has been a lot going on.
Jesus rose from the grave, Bin Laden was killed and the High Commissioner of Britain was kicked out of Malawi.
Easter was insane here. From Friday morning to Sunday night it was non-stop. I preached a ton, prayed with people and saw God move in ways I had never experienced. I’m glad I got to celebrate the risen Lord in such a different setting. God continues to show me how important it is to get outside of the bubble of Western Christendom. Too often, we get stuck on the church looking one way or another, and because of it we miss out on the diversity of the Already-but Not Yet Kingdom.
Almost exactly a week after celebrating Easter, I woke up to the news of Bin Laden’s death. I quickly turned on the BBC and, like many, had conflicting emotions as I watched people celebrate on the streets in New York and in front of the White House. The feelings continued as I read hundreds of posts, passages from the Bible taken completely out of context and mis-quotations on facebook and twitter.
I have plenty of opinions about celebrating the death of Bin Laden. I just don’t think a blog is an adequate place to talk about them (some of us still believe in face to face conversation…). I will say this, some of what was said, in both camps, was absolutely ridiculous.
In the last 8 months there have been a few days where I haven’t minded living outside of the U.S. May 1st can be added to that list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be an American and I definitely miss A LOT about living in such a great place, but it is refreshing to be in a country that doesn’t think it is at the center of the universe. I imagine, for many, the world stopped moving when Obama made his announcement. I could be wrong (and correct me if I am), but I bet 99% of the conversations at work on Monday started with something about Bin Laden, Fox News’s many mis-haps or Seal Team Six.
Friends back home have asked me what the reaction was like here. The death was definitely acknowledged by Malawians. And while I heard a few conspiracy theories, for the most part it was “he was a terrible man, a threat to the entire world and he is now dead.” No cheering. No morning. That was it.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy sent out a few emails (because of both Bin Laden and the public’s recent frustration toward the Malawian President). Here are a few lines from one of them:
According to Embassy sources and police reports, the Embassy has learned that demonstrations may be held tomorrow…We remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. We urge any American citizen to avoid large gatherings.
So, what did I do? I took a trip to a Muslim village to talk with a pastor about a future outreach. I’m not saying I’m some sort of crazy rebel or anything (far from it actually); sometimes things just need to be put in proper perspective. The pastor we visited talked about his fears he had before he moved to the congregation a year and a half earlier…and then explained how unreasonable they were. He loves his Muslim neighbors. Some have even come to know Christ.
No one in their right mind would argue with the idea that what occurred on September 11th, 2001 was tragic. But what is as close to as tragic to the actual event is the amount of right-minded people making completely irrational stereotypes and generalizations out of a fear of what (or who) they are scared of getting to know.