Sunday, March 31, 2013

He is Risen Indeed

Sunflower oil press

It now finally seems that the election is behind us.  The Supreme Court ruled on Saturday to uphold the election results.  There were several demonstrations, resulting in the loss of a few lives, but overall we are thankful for peace.  Congratulations from country leaders around the world are coming in for the president-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta, but there is some concern over the lack of comment from President Obama.  There was some controversy prior to the election at comments from President Obama and other officials which seemed to indicate support for Raila Odinga.  Kenyans did not appreciate any outside message trying to sway their votes and they insisted that other countries respect their sovereignty in choosing their own president, without perceived threats from other countries.  I loved that message of independence.  President-elect Kenyatta will be sworn in on April 9.  His trial with the International Criminal Court begins in May.  

One of many well tended farms in Butere
I spent Easter in Butere.  I missed being with my children and I missed the Lent and Easter services at Madison Square Church, with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But the service at the Butere Miracle Center was good and I enjoyed the preaching from 1 Corinthians 15.  After the second service, I began my four hour training for the 71 business people in attendance.  Not a great way to spend Easter, but they insisted that the only day business people have to attend class is Sunday – since they work the other six days of the week.  

Fish farm of was fun feeding them!
Elizabeth (R) and her apprentice - she is now going to sew me a suit:-)

We spent time going through the Bible to study the many business people that God used through the Old and New Testament to forward His message (for example, Abraham, Joseph, David, Job, Daniel, Amos, Lydia, and Luke, just to name a few).  We then spent some time examining our cultural idols and studying how they can affect our business.  For example, in traditional cultures (which the Butere business people concluded they are in), the idols tend to be social stability and the good of the whole over the rights of the individual.  In modern cultures, the idols tend to be reason (progress, science, and technology), empiricism, and individual freedom.  In post-modern cultures, the idols tend to be uncertainty (i.e. there are no answers), technology, and the market.  [Taken from Timothy Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor:  Connecting Your Work to God’s Work – a good read…as well as Jeff VanDuzer’s book, Why Business Matters to God (and what still needs to be fixed).]  We studied how the culture in Butere views work, wealth & money, success & failure, death, sickness, women, spirits, and time, and contrasted how the cultural worldview lines up with the Biblical worldview.  The culture in this area tends to believe that spirits, curses, and ancestors are heavily involved in success, failure, sickness, and death, which can have a negative effect on businesses.  This is not unlike what I saw in West Africa. [In contrast, modern cultures tend to explain death, sickness, and so on with science, leaving very little to no room for God or Satan.]  The last thing we spent time on was how to set SMART goals for our business and working towards timelines, objectives, and strategies to be able to achieve those goals.  This is always a challenge for business people who tend to have big dreams but are unsure how to move those dreams into tangible goals.

A very strong business man, his wife, and daughter.  They run an AgroVet shop, selling seed and inputs to farmers, as well as animal feed and medicines.  In addition, they have a poultry farm of broilers and layers.  His beautiful wife led us in worship on Sunday morning
As Pastor Andrew preached on 1 Corinthians 15, I reflected on one of Bob’s and my favorite verses:  “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (I Corinthians 15:19).  I believe that Bob wrote a blog about living pitiable lives…or maybe he spoke on it several times.  The idea of this text is that we are to be living in such a way that should we be wrong about Christ, that we will have chosen to live lives that others would view as pitiable.  I started tying that in for the first time with businesses…and actually with business ethics.  Many of the Biblical business persons named above were called to do radical things in and through their business:  Abraham was called to leave his home and go to a foreign land; Joseph and Daniel were called to be governors in lands that were not their own, serving with excellence despite their loyalty or allegiance; David took his shepherding skills to meet Goliath (and was looking for the reward in it – truly a businessman!), and so on.  Many would look at them and think that if it turned out that their God was not the one true God, they were living pitiable lives.  Many business owners face many ethical challenges, all around the world.  For many, compromising these ethics is just part of business – the only way to succeed or even survive.  Christians in business are called to a different standard, even if it causes others to shake their heads at their foolish business decisions.  Doing business in Kenya is a challenge.  On a scale of 185 countries, Kenya ranks 121 for the ease of doing business.  Often fighting these battles as a small business owner seems fruitless…but when business owners come together, they can carry some weight.  I use the following picture when I talk about this concept: 

I am thankful for the faith that we are not living pitiable lives…that our Lord Jesus Christ is alive…and one day we will celebrate with Him in Heaven.  I am also thankful for those who are joining with me in this work by praying for some of these businesses…the challenges are great, but our Lord is greater!
I did get to see a white rabbit...not a sign of spring here...but certainly in the US!