Week 4: Lent reflections – Sunday 11 March
Written by Bob Kikuyu, who is from Kenya and is Christian Aid’s Deputy Head of the Africa Division. He is formerly a church minister who has worked over many years with the poor in the slums of Nairobi.
Something to read: John 1: 19 – 28
Something to consider
I had the privilege of meeting my wife’s grandmother shortly before she died at close to 100 years of age. One of her stories was of the place that she used to call home until the day the British colonial government unexpectedly arrived with trucks and ferried them all away to a far-off land to begin a new life.
Her previous homeland came to form what would be known as the White Highlands, prime pieces of farmland to be occupied by the settlers. She and others were condemned to places prone to disease and the ravages of a harsh climate. It is here that she ended her days, with a clear memory of what was really home.
How easy it is for us to lose in the answer, the essence of the question posed to John in this passage from John 1.
There was a delegation sent to John to clarify who he was because of the unique message and method he employed to convey the need for repentance. They could not quite categorise him.
And so the clear question for John was ‘who are you?’, to which he gave the weighty reply, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.
Improving the situation for displaced people
The Maasai continued to be displaced over the years not just by the colonialists but by the national government that took over at independence. Once a feared warrior nomadic tribe covereding more than half of Kenya, they now live in scattered communities in remote areas with little access to healthcare and education.
They have been exploited by other Kenyan citizens who have over the years have taken off larger portions of land than they paid for with a pittance.
The question posed to John, ‘who are you?’ is used to oppress the poor, asked with an underlying attitude towards the poor and marginalised. The answer given by the questioner, to undermine and oppress is, ‘you are nobody!’
The Maasai may have found some relief with the introduction of devolved government in Kenya, but many around the world, like the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and those displaced by disasters in Haiti, are hoping and crying for someone like John the Baptist.
They need a voice crying from the wilderness, preparing the way for others who will bring justice and an end to their plight. Christian Aid seeks to be that voice this year, calling on our politicians and the world leaders at the UN to improve the situation for displaced people the world over.
Something to do
Get involved in Christian Aid’s displaced people campaign.
Something to pray
Lord, how we pray that justice will flow like a river towards the many people forced from their homes, not overcoming them but carrying them to a safer and solid ground. Amen.