Ben has just interviewed a colleague from the US who spent three years studying in Africa. His insights are fascinating and well worth a read.
How do you think your three years here will impact your future?
Good huge question. I suspect my understanding of God and this world, of people and community, of the power of faith, it will all be enriched and matured. I used to joke that seminary in Kenya was my Dagobah (where Luke got trained by Yoda in Star Wars), but now I realize how truly changed I am by that stretching time. God is truly the world’s greatest hope, and this fact has been confirmed time and time again. We prayed for food during hunger, and it came; for rain during drought, and it came. We prayed against disease and handed out medicine, and people were healed. A seminary experience is something that should verse folks in the depth of this world’s need while enabling them to join God’s restorative work, and I am proud to say I learned this during my MDiv in Kenya.
In light of your experiences, what do you have to say to your American friends?
Don’t go to abroad in the name of salvation. Go there to learn from it (or have a nice vacation that helps its economy). Once you know the place, the only help it needs is the enabling kind. I met many teams of missionaries there, one I remember which spent $200,000 for twenty-five punky kids to feel like they had helped ‘Save Africa’, but Kenya actually has the same percent professing Christians as the US (CIA World Factbook), and the punks only poured a foundation to a kitchen (true story). Meanwhile many of my close friends were eating on $15/month, unable to afford text books let alone any healthcare. It was awful to live between this dichotomy. (read the whole interview)