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10 Days of Revival in Nairobi

Saturday, Day 8

The other day, I was looking at the flip-flops someone was wearing and noticed how worn-out they were. It’s the preferred mode of footwear here – cheap, worn-out flip-flops.  Maybe its because they are so cheap, or maybe its because they are so easy to wear, but on this side of town you see them everywhere.

You’d think that these shoes are so cheap that folks would just buy a new pair when they get worn out and throw the old ones away, but they don’t.  They keep on wearing them.  In some ways, these flip-flops are just like the people who wear them.  Simple and easy, nothing fancy, and often worn-out. 

Perhaps this is why humility comes so easy to them.  I was listening to someone preach about Psalm 100, and it struck me that these people are able to grasp what it means when the Psalmist wrote, “It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves.”  It takes an abject humility that most people do not possess to understand the fullness of that scripture.  In the sophisticated West, we understand it with our heads, but here in Africa, they understand it with their hearts.

Maybe my perspective would change dramatically if I were able to see the other side of town where the standard of living is higher.  I hear that there are sections of Nairobi that are very high class with nice stores and great restaurants.  That’s where all the whites are. 

Now that I stop and think about it, I realize that I am the only white guy anywhere around on this side of town.  No wonder they think I’m special. I probably glow in the dark!

Today is not a day for preaching and ministering.  I have promised to visit both of the people who have hosted me during my past two visits to Kenya.  One lives miles out of town in one direction, and the other lives on the opposite side of Nairobi, so this will be a day for driving and little else, and I will welcome the break.

Of course, driving on the wrong side of the street in a vehicle that is mirror image backwards is not a stress-free break. I’m not sure how I have been able to manage, but it is somehow a testament to the adaptability of human beings. There have been a few close calls, especially when I turn a corner and naturally swing into the side with the oncoming traffic.  The Swahili I hear them yell at me has a funny resemblance to the Italian you hear in the traffic in New York.

I’ve told you about the kamikaze Matatu drivers zooming around, but there is an added road hazard that you will never see anywhere else in the world – the Mokokoteni.  

The Mokokoteni are the workhorse turtles of the streets.  These are human-drawn carts as wide as a car, mounted on axles with automobile wheels.  Two long poles serve as the handles that are used to pull these things through traffic like a coolie with a massive rickshaw.

Out here, if you want anything hauled somewhere, you don’t load it up in your pickup truck – there are no pickup trucks here – you get a mokokoteni driver to come by and deliver it for you.  It might be dirt or merchandise, bamboo poles, empty barrels, or a pile of rocks – if it needs to be hauled, these guys haul it.

Unfortunately, they haul it right through the middle of traffic.  As you’re avoiding the matatus dive-bombing you as you rush through traffic, you also have to be careful that you don’t run right into one of these mokokoteni, lumbering up the middle of the road right in your lane. 

This is a wonderful day for me.  I don’t have to be anything or anybody today, and that takes a real weight off me.  There is much I don’t understand about this culture and their spiritual and emotional needs, and some of it has to do with their “tribal chieftain” mentality, the need to look up to someone in charge.  At least it seems that way. 

And there are always those who are ready to fill the position.  It seems everyone around here has to have a title: Pastor, Bishop, Apostle; Butcher, Baker, Candlestick maker. Funny, there aren’t many prophets around, if any at all.  At least, I haven’t heard of any.  Maybe because that’s the one office that has to actually do something to prove his position and God-given authority.

There are some stiff warnings in Matthew 23 concerning titles and their abuse.  If you have real power and authority in God – the kind that can be felt – then you don’t need a title to advertise it.  Little letters in front of your name and little letters after it, do not give you authority in God, neither do impressive sounding titles.  Jesus’ admonition, “…and all ye are brethren”, is good enough for me. 

Just call me Brother Dale.