Saturday, February 19, 2011

I used to be an optimistic person.

But now... I'm cynical and frustrated.

I see missionaries treat their house workers poorly by paying them way below minimum wage. I watch organizations that are supposed to provide relief and help to Kenyans "in the name of Christ", put most of their funds in white people's pockets, giving themselves big salaries, and the Kenyans working for them so little. Friends of mine, even, who could easily afford to hire a single mother full-time, but don't. While she struggles to feed her kids, they can't hand over a few more shillings a month.

Why? Why don't white Christians see the need to take care of the poor? In Kenya poverty is so blatantly in front of us, knocking at our car windows, living next door. I will admit that I've struggled with my own response to poverty in Kenya. But one thing I do know is that when a Kenyan friend needs help, I can try to help. I don't mean handing out money. That does no good here. But providing a job when I can and helping a friend find a job, those are things I can do.

I'm frustrated that people I love in Kenya are treated so poorly by the people who are supposed to be here to help. I feel hopeless and helpless. We always say that we can't help Kenya because it will never be fixed of the corruption and poverty. And we can only help one person at a time, the people who come along our path. I hope I do this - help the people who God puts across my path. But when I see others in the position to help those along their path and they continually don't, I want to SCREAM! Where are the real Christ-like Christians? And have I been one of those at times who has stood by when I could have helped? Dear Lord, I hope not.

A challenge to everyone, including myself... Who has God put across your path recently? And did you help them?

I need to know that there are people out there helping people in need because in Kenya, where there are more relief agencies than almost anywhere in the world, I'm not seeing much of it. If you can, post a comment telling me a good story of helping someone in need. Anyone out there?

My optimism needs your story.


  1. I think cynicism comes partly from what we see and partly from our feeling of helplessness to change the situation. I know I've been there! If you want to see white people acting like they should, keep up with the organization Word Made Flesh ( You've heard me talk about them. I think they are my favorite people in the world and they give me a lot of hope in a world that seems so destitute so much of the time. In fact, here is the blog for one of the staff members who works in Kolkata, if you wanted to keep up with it at all. She's gained a lot of wisdom and I love reading what she has to share.

  2. people cooking big batches of lasagna to bring to a homeless church, serving those people with humility, grace and love. buying toms. donating fresh water wells for villages in haiti. paying rent on an apartment to rescue girls caught up in the sex trade.

    the truth is, it's hard to give up too much comfort for other people. we all suck some of the time, and we are all capable of being beautiful other times. i don't want to be driven by guilt but love.. and that's hard.

    people are disappointing. ugh. sorry you're seeing ugliness from people who want to be like Jesus in the world. but I guess i claim to do this too, and i'm super lazy!

  3. Bekah, you're real! Thank you for those comments. It encourages me because people do show others love, like you wrote. And we should be driven by love not guilt. Thanks for the reminder. I guess I just feel really bogged down by the Christian NGO world that I've seen the last three years in Kenya. I think the people involved in them have great hearts and really do want to make a contribution. I just question how it's sometimes done when I see personal friends hurt by those same people. Good intentions aren't always good, even my own. Makes me really think about how I'm giving, which I think is good. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. A man who works for a bank and does a lot of work with micro loans oversees came and spoke at a chapel here at Asbury last semester. After telling a story about a church in Georgia that tried to help a community in Rwanda that ended up totally backfiring the next year, the guy said, "Good intentions are a great way to start but a bad way to end." He was talking about doing our homework before trying to do good things.

    Kim, I know it's frustrating, but I'm really glad you're seeing these things. If you let yourself walk through it, you'll come out on the other side with some really good words of wisdom and a better picture of good and appropriate ways to be helpful. Blessings on your final weeks and months in Kenya!