Friday, February 20, 2009

Peace wanted

We are getting used to our surroundings. Everything seems like it could become normal to us, then today happens. As usual, we took our matatu ride to language school ... no problems there. We are becoming used to the rattly mini buses, the cranked subwoofers, coasting downhill as fast they possibly can, and cutting other matatus off at each bus stop.

At language school one of the teachers shared at chai time that she had been carjacked this morning. She was taking a matatu to work at 6am and several guys came on the mini bus and after they pulled away, out came the guns. They let everybody go at 6:30, freed from their cash and cell phones.

Some of the more verbose teachers expounded on this type of crime, then moved on to home burglary. I am sure this was for our benefit, the three new students.

One thing to remember, the thieves can be reasonable, and you can negotiate, but they also don't mind killing people who don't cooperate.

The principal of the school said last year his neighborhood was broken into about three times. Once was while he was sleeping and they came into his bedroom. They told him to go back to sleep and started looting the place. After awhile, they became too comfortable. One walked by him with a flashlight in his mouth and arms laden with stolen goods.

"I thought: Now this man can not be too dangerous!" he said. And so he hit him and pushed him out the door, then locked it.

"Then I raised the alarm!"

I asked "You have an alarm in your room?"

With a broad smile, he said. "My alarm is this ..." And he let out an ear splitting yell. A couple teachers laughed.

One teacher said, "This is the natural alarm, not an ... artificial one. This one is natural!"

The principal said the neighborhood came alive and they chased the thieves for about 15 kilometers, "wearing ... not many clothes," he said, again with a broad grin.

He quickly pointed out that as Christians, you have to be concerned about the thieves, because if they are caught, they are "finished."

Then the teachers went into another story about another breakin last year. One thief was caught, beaten to death... "then how do you say in English ... grilled, no... barbequed." This last word came out with a boisterous laugh.

The three of us wazungu (white people) stood transfixed during all of this. I am sure our expressions gave away our shock!

So, the moral was the police are not the best help to catch thieves.

"Sometimes they arm them even better and send them back to rob again. How do you think they will treat him," pointing at the principal "if they come back now to his house again?"

The principal picked up the point, "So the people have no patience with the police. But the people have no prison. The cannot keep the thieves, so the only thing they want to do is kill them. They put tires around them, pour gasoline or parafine on them ... then barbeque them."

I looked down at my mug, wishing I could get more chai and walk back to class. But even if I did, it would not change our reality. I suddenly realized how desperate these thieves must be if they know a deadly beating is just a yell away.

"But, there are many wonderful things about Kenya, too! It is a beautiful place!" a teacher said with a smile.

This afternoon I saw "Peace wanted" graffitied on a wall. I thought maybe that is the cry of Nairobi, even the groaning of Africa. Then I realized that it is the agonized desire of every human heart, whether acknowledged or not. Peace wanted from the forces of evil, from the destruction of sin, from all that hates good. Peace wanted in the middle of a struggle not with flesh and blood, thieves, bandits, but a struggle in a world invisible to our naked eye.

It may sound over simplified, but the root cause is always spiritual evil. And for me peace comes from knowing God is sovereign. I also realize Nairobi is a great place to live compared to other parts of the continent. Sure I lock a gazillion locks on a gazillion doors every night, but today I prayed for protection. And that the thieves hearts would be changed. And their bodies disabled... at least until the hearts are changed.

1 comment:

Josh Hopping (Ardell) said...

wow! Knowing that the thieves will be killed does cause a dilemma...

May the Lord of Host guide you guys on your journey.