Preparations and Leaving for Kenya
On the plane. It’s a long, long way to Kenya. We left Houston at 3:45 pm. Twenty-three hours later we’ll arrive in Nairobi. This trip has been months in the planning but somehow I left my tooth brush and big box of granola bars back home. The organizers were very organized giving us list of important things to remember to bring – no tooth brush – geez. Part of that planning was some reading.
One of the books was “Toxic Charity.” It was interesting and disturbing all at the same time. Early the writer tells his story of moving into a very low income minority neighborhood. He was visiting at his neighbor’s home on Christmas Eve. There was a knock on the door and a well-meaning white family from the suburbs brought in food and presents for the children. They spent some awkward moments and left to return to their own lovely Christmas Eve celebration, I am sure feeling quite good about themselves. I know – been there and done that many times. It was after the gift givers left that he realized the father had slipped out the back door during all the commotion. His friend had been unable to stay and bear the embarrassment and humiliation of not being able to provide Christmas for his own family.
The well-meaning white family from the suburbs did what they thought was sharing their blessings -doing their Christian duty. What all good Christians should do. The author wasn’t condemning their generosity but asking “Is there a better way?” Can we both share our gifts and respect the dignity of the receivers? Can we find ways to build people up, to build communities up so that they are stronger and more able to care for their own? That’s what we are here to learn.
Members of the Texas Annual Conference are travelling to Kenya in February to learn new ways to engage in mission. Learn More about their trip.