Today we wanted to share with you some excepts from our Kenya Magazine, called Amani. Amani is the Swahili word for “Peace” and it denotes a peace born of wholeness and harmony. The magazine chronicles the most recent Redeemer Church team trip to Kenya.
The Editor’s Note:
The stories God tells with a surrendered life are ones of daring adventure, but they are also moving works of art. Amani is peace born of wholeness and harmony. When we each learn the identity of our true self, we can each finally find our place in the glory song.
Each of us is created uniquely in the image of God. There are similar things within our hearts that bond us and gives us missions of united purpose, but within the mission, we must each play a different part–after all, diversity of voice and instrument create a fuller, richer symphony. We must not waste time wishing we were given a different part to fulfill. We must not let the beauty of a fellow worker singing the glory song beautifully discourage us from finding our place in the symphony, we must let the strength and beauty of another be an inspiration only, trusting God to come through for us when we step out and offer all that we are in our unique and divinely appointed way. We are not alone in this, we are but one part of the body, one voice in the symphony. We must not look to the chair beside us for comparison, but feed off their melody as we all look to our conductor who has written the composition of our lives and asked us to do what we do best.
From the Article:
Visions of an African Journey
What a rich experience it was to be able to travel to various villages and cities within Kenya, to see different climates, different tribes, different ways of life. Our minds were stretched to absorb and process new customs, languages, and textures that shaped everyday Kenyan life.
There really is more to see than can ever be seen, and I am so glad for that. But by far, the most beautiful of all God’s creation we beheld during our time in Kenya were the people. People all over the world are God’s crowning glory of creation, I know this to be true, but for some reason, God has allowed this truth to stun me with breathtaking impact while in Africa. Over and over again, I have had experiences of marveling at the lavish beauty and vibrancy of East African landscapes only to have my breath stolen away once God’s favorite works of art walk unassumingly into the scene, sometimes she walks by with a baby wrapped in a kikoy on her back, sometimes he’s balancing goods on his head, sometimes she is three feet tall and waving excitedly to the muzungu from the side of the road, and sometimes there are a chorus of perfect, little ones all around me, laughing as I humorously butcher yet another Swahili word. And I am suddenly reminded all over again that we are God’s pièce de résistance—the “very good” in the midst of a world created “good”.
From the Article:
Perfect: Seeing though God’s Eyes, A Lesson in Idenity
Why is it that whenever I think of all these children one word comes to mind: perfect. I am aware that the kids I’ve come to know here are like anybody else on the planet, broken and sinful. All of them have endured tragedy upon tragedy. They are surely broken, fragmented versions of who they were created to be.
And yet, they are perfect. With Perfect toothless seven-year old smiles. Perfect chocolate skin and eyes the perfect color of the earth in a forever summer. Perfect bare feet that run and play across red clay and long nylon grass. Perfect laughs that harmonize with stars in the galaxies and the blooming of spring. Perfect, deep, rich voices that sing silly songs, foreign songs, and songs of a Father’s love. These perfect, broken children are the beauty of God’s creation, His holiness at work. They have much to learn, and they grow in wisdom and understanding more each day. But even now, in their broken, incompleteness, they are perfect. And I finally realize the power of Christ’s love on the cross.
He is giving me His eyes, sharing His heart for these kids with me, showing me exactly how He sees them, individual, unique, and perfect. He sees each of them as who they are, who He created them to be. By the power of Christ’s love and sacrifice on the cross we are and are being made whole, complete, perfect. Each of us who comes to faith in Christ not only gets the amazing, unthinkable blessing of holiness–as Christ substitutes my sin for His perfection–but we even get to become more deeply, more richly, more fully who we were always created to be as Christ work continues its restorative wonder within us.
Identity in Christ does not paint us all the same color, rather it brings back the unique and beautiful hues of all the diversity and perfection with which God first created His good world. We get to own the identity we were always created to have even as we work out our brokenness and repent from our sin and discover just who this perfect person is buried beneath the false self this broken world has handed us. And believe me, the way God sees these children, the way He sees you and the way He sees me is full of delight and earth-shattering love. This is our identity in Christ, the perfection of his sacrifice, the perfection of his creation.
From the Article:
The Kingdom is Here: Community Home Visits
I loved having the privilege of visiting a couple of community homes. The experience was a very real way to step into someone else’s daily life–it fascinates me to no end that what is altogether foreign to me, is someone else’s normal.
There was one home in particular where the Kingdom of God was so apparent in our hostess’ hospitality, generosity, and humble means of bringing beauty into her corner of the world. This woman was a natural facilitator of community and her home and it’s evidence of her beautiful heart will linger in my memory always.
Her home was made of wood and tin with burlap and vinyl sacks cut and sewn to insulate the inside, the floor was dirt and the wind still blew through the house a bit, despite her efforts, but after being there for a few minutes none of these things seemed to matter any longer, for she hosted us with as much warmth and generosity as I have ever seen. Even though she didn’t speak a word of English and we only spoke a handful of Swahili between the nine of us, we loved being in her presence and in her home.
What made her home so special was the way she cultivated beauty and facilitated community so naturally. Even in her tiny hut-home and with meager means, she somehow managed to provide ample seating for her guests in a clean and lovely space. She didn’t let the potato sack walls nor dirt floor keep her from making her home beautiful. Lace adorned the walls, covering the vegetable sack insulation, the couches were covered in clean blankets, and the tables were each draped with a lovely cloth.
This woman is a widow with several children to teach, nurture, and provide for. She works hard to raise a few livestock and grow a humble garden. Her health often fails her as she struggles with the compounding effect of several ailments, and yet, in all these obstacles, she is not discouraged, she still takes time to bring beauty to her world and create a space for friends, and family and visiting strangers to gather in. She served us tea, made creamy by the fresh milk from her own cow. Her home was a space that said, sit, be, breathe, for all shall be well. It was a beautiful, refreshing, and inspiring thing to behold. She has shown me how to make art even in difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances of life. I got to witness the beauty of a woman growing in her walk with God and learning how to bring the Kingdom of God into the reality of her village of huts and crops and livestock. She is choosing hope and wholeness–she is the poetry of God’s heart.
From the Article:
Uncovering Joy in the Messy and the Hard
We were created to create, to collaborate, to cultivate. The work will be messy, the task will be hard. But press in when you want to retreat, endure when you feel defeat, persevere when you want to give up, draw close when you’re tempted to isolate, give grace when you don’t think you can tolerate anymore, and when others cause the ugly to rise up in you, look at it, deal with the ugly in you, knowing that restoration of beauty is the business God is up to and you can trust Him. When you are handed fragments create alongside God and others, create your way to something whole, something good, something beautiful and true.
Create until chaos becomes harmony.
If you want to see hundreds more photographs plus full articles, interviews, poetry, recipies, and stories, be sure to pick up your copy of Amani Magazine at the church office throughout the week or in the Welcome Center on Sundays. All proceeds from the magazine sales goes to directly to Kids Alive Kenya. For more info about Kids Alive International, please visit their site and for more info about Redeemer’s Love Initiative with Kids Alive, visit our church website.
Hope you enjoyed these glimpses into how God created something really beautiful through learning, broken hearts and faulty, eager hands.