If I asked you to imagine what Africa looks like, what would you say?
I suspect there are some people who would respond: “Poor. Lots of slums. Starving people everywhere.” But really, it’s an awful question to begin with. It depends where you are in Africa. In many parts of the continent, you feel no different from when you’re in any of the world’s great cities.
Now, if the only images of Africa you ever see are in commercials asking you to make a donation, I can understand the ignorance. But if you visited a major African city and discovered that your presumptions were completely wrong, wouldn’t you be thrilled? Wouldn’t you be thankful that people aren’t suffering?
Jessica Tidwell is currently on a missionary trip to Kenya and realized that Nairobi is nothing like she anticipated. It’s affluent, it’s busy, it’s… not all that different from the city she came from. Yet her reaction is one of disappointment:
It just wasn’t what my heart was expecting.
Nairobi is a hub for lots of international business. A place where new buildings are being built left and right and where traffic is a nightmare and a half.
But this girl from the states expected Nairobi to be like what you see in the movies. Or on Feed the Children commercials.
John could tell I was discouraged. That my heart wasn’t “in” today.
So, did I fall in love with Nairobi today?
But I fell deeper in love with a God who uses all the things, including the safe and affluent, to change my heart.
I have absolutely no problem with her not knowing what to expect.
But discouragement at the reality of the situation? Frustration?
It’s as if she’s unhappy everyone isn’t dirt-poor and sick, just waiting for her and Jesus to come along and save them.
How selfish must you be to feel disappointment that a foreign city isn’t plunged in poverty?
It makes me wonder what the purpose of her trip was. To help people who really don’t need anything she can offer? To take a selfie with some hungry black children in order to get a bunch of Likes on Facebook? Did she seriously go on a mission trip to Nairobi without doing any research whatsoever about the people who live there?
If she really wanted to help them, she’d be doing more by staying at home, writing a check for the amount the trip would have cost, and sending it to a local non-profit group.
But feeling discouraged that people were doing just fine without her? Jesus…