I am aware that the majority of people who read my blog are in the States, but I also have a number of followers who live here in the UK. For those living in the UK, you may have watched for the last couple of weeks the documentary made by Comic Relief in Kibera, the second largest urban slum in Africa. For those in other countries, Comic Relief is a charity based in the United Kingdom and raising money for projects at home and abroad. Every year on the run up to the Comic Relief Day, there are various TV programs trying to raise the profile of projects taking place made possible through the funds raised through Comic Relief. This year Comic Relief sent four British celebrities to become part of the community in Kibera, just outside Nairobi, Kenya. The idea being for the celebrities not only to do a documentary which shows the abject poverty people who live in this slum find themselves in, but also to actually experience first hand what it is like to live in such conditions and with such little hope of ever stepping out of such misery.
I know that there are countless slums and thousands of poverty-stricken places all around the world. I am familiar with just a handful of these, and as a family we regularly support various charitable projects aimed to help orphans to step out of poverty and to provide them with the hope of a future. However, this two-part documentary really did something in me, stirred something in me, awoke something in me which I just cannot silence. I believe that as human beings we all have a responsibility to each other, not just to our own immediate families and friends, but perhaps more so to those who cannot fend for themselves often as a direct consequence of the hurt inflicted upon them and their communities at the hands of men and women driven by greed, pride and simply Evil. Moreover, as a Christian I am called to give all I have to the poor. Yes, I know, we all find different excuses to wriggle out of that one, but Jesus could not have said it more plainly:
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19, 16-30
My goodness! Those words ring such truth. What is it about man and our sinful condition that even when we witness another person being denied the most basic of necessities and rights in life, we continue to put more value on a material object, a possession or a pleasurable activity? As I was watching that program last night, my eyes kept being forced to look at the various ornaments in our living-room. Dead, inert objects which are right there for the taking, which I have been blessed with, not so that I can dust them off occasionally and decorate my mantelpiece with, but simply as a ticket to another person’s happiness, dignity, nourishment, health, hope and future.
I have to be totally honest with you and confess that when I look at my life today, I have to reach the conclusion that I am not yet a Christian, but someone who lives with the aspiration and the hope by faith of one day living the life that Christ would have me live, someone who strives to one day resemble in some form, if only small, the heart of Christ for “the least of these”.
I want to continue pursuing the vision that God has placed in my heart for a better world, to take personally the pain and the hurt that thousands of people experience in their daily lives all around the world. Isn’t that what Christ did? I cannot sit here and confess how moved and broken I felt after watching that documentary, if as a result I do not take action.
I am writing this post as a plea for anyone to get in touch if they know of any organisation, individual or charity who solely and specifically aims to help the people of Kibera. If you happen to have contact details of any of the celebrities who appeared on the documentary, even a Facebook page, twitter address or anything at all that can lead me to them, please do pass it on. I want to make a difference, no matter how small, to some of these wonderful people in Kibera, who despite hellish living conditions, still have the grace to extend a helping hand and a wonderful smile. Though with physical eyes it is easy to only see the sewage flowing throough the streets of Kibera, my spiritual eyes saw the grace of God overflowing in that place, for how else can a human being live in such plight if not by the grace of God?
If you know of any person, no matter which country they are based in, who can help me to personally get involved in the work that is already taking place in Kibera to improve the living conditions of these poor souls, please, please drop me a comment on this post. I will be eternally grateful. In the meantime, I will try contacting the BBC and see if they can point me in the right direction.
Thank you for listening, thank you for caring.
Below is the link to BBC iplayer which will allow you to watch both parts of this very moving documentary. If for any reason the links don’t work, please let me know.