28 February 2013

Amani ya Juu: Praying for Peace in Kenya

I borrowed the title for this post from the name of one of my favorite ministries/shops here in Nairobi because it just seemed fitting.  In Swahili, amani ya juu means "peace from above."  The next few days, weeks, and months have the potential to be rather tentative here in Kenya, and it truly can only be God's peace, a peace from above, that will heal this land and bring people together.

Several of you have been asking for some details about the Kenyan elections that will be held this coming Monday, March 4, so I thought I'd compile a bit of the information for you if you'd like to know more.  U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec, explains it this way: "The general election on March 4 will be the most important since independence. It will be an important test of Kenya's progress. It is the first national election since the post-election violence that claimed over 1,000 lives and displaced 600,000 people, and the first under Kenya’s new constitution. The government of Kenya, the international community, and civil society are working hard to ensure this election is free, that it is fair and that it is peaceful."

While I've learned bits and pieces of Kenya's political history while I've been here, and more so in the last month or so, I am certainly no expert.  However I have been told that most of the issues coming to light in this election are rooted very deeply, so there is certainly no quick-fix to the situation.  To compound the issue(s), the team of men who appear to be the current front-runners as candidates have both been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity in the previous election and should be appearing at the Hague for trial in the near future.  While their unity as runningmates could result in more ethnic unity within Kenya, their election could also mean a cold shoulder toward Kenya from the international community.

Since I am no expert, I thought that simply sharing links written by people who know a lot more than I do would be more beneficial.  Below are links to a few articles that are beneficial in understanding the current political climate in Kenya:

Q & A: Kenya's 2013 Elections

Kenya Elections: Maps and Graphics

Uhuru Kenyatta: Indicted Candidate

Obama's Address to Kenyans

As you can see, there's quite a bit at stake over the next few days.  Depending on how the results turn out next week, run-off elections could be held in April or May (whether or not the results are judicially disputed would determine which), prolonging the time of uncertainty.

For those of you asking about my personal security right now, our Crisis Management Team here at Rosslyn has been working on safety and security issues for months and months.  They're closely monitoring the situation, along with input from the U.S. Embassy and United Nations political advisers. We're "hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst."  Right now I feel just as safe as I would at any other point.  We've taken measures to be prepared IF difficult situations arise, but like I said, we're hoping none of those will need to be used.  At the end of the day, God's still in control, and no matter what happens, we can rest in that.

So please join us in prayer over the next few days, particularly.  Pray for God's peace to reign here in Kenya--for His peace to draw Kenyans together across ethnic lines, for His peace to allow the "system" to work and keep people from taking matters into their own hands, for His peace to protect the people of this country.  Please also pray for two specific areas that are close to my heart--Kawangware here in Nairobi (home of Vapor Sports), and Makutano (home of Village Project Africa).  Kawangware is labeled a "hotspot" for election-related violence, and when I talked with one of Vapor's directors last weekend, he agreed that there is a lot of tension in the area right now.  During the last election, many families involved with Village Project Africa were affected by violence--some even lost their homes and had to move to IDP camps away from the village.

  The words to Kenya's national anthem are :

O God of all creation,
Bless this our land and nation.
Justice be our shield and defender,
May we dwell in unity,
Peace and liberty.
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true.
Service be our earnest endeavour,
And our Homeland of Kenya,
Heritage of splendour,
Firm may we stand to defend.

Let all with one accord
In common bond united,
Build this our nation together,
And the glory of Kenya,
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

We pray that Kenyans will live by this prayer in the coming days, and that peace and liberty will be found within the borders.  The following verses were shared in church last Sunday, and they seem a fitting conclusion:

"In the Lord I take refuge.  
How then can you say to me: 'Flee like a bird to your mountain'...
When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them...
For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; 
upright men will see his face."
Psalm 11

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