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Could Kenya become Rwanda?

Mwai Kibaki, an ethnic Kikuyu, was declared the winner of Kenya’s disputed presidential poll in December to the anger of supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is from the Luo community.

The fallout has fuelled ethnic tensions in the country which has more than 40 ethnic groups – and up to 900 people have died in the post-election violence.

Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society, spoke to the BBC about the parallels that some are drawing with what happened in Rwanda where such divisions ended in the 1994 genocide and the killing of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

» read more (BBC)

UN Secretary General Visits Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon has said that the world should never witness any genocide, adding that the United Nations and the international community is haunted by the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda.

“The Rwandan genocide will haunt the UN and the international community for generations,” he remarked after touring the Rwanda Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali Tuesday at the start of his two day visit.

» read more (allAfrica.com)

Rwanda urges Kenyan army to act

Paul Kagame, whose rebel army took power in Rwanda 13 years ago putting a halt to genocide, came close yesterday to calling for a military coup in neighbouring Kenya.

In remarks unprecedented for an African leader, Mr Kagame, now president of Rwanda, said army intervention might be the only way to curtail the violence that has erupted in the aftermath of last month’s flawed elections in Kenya.

“It might not be fashionable and right for the armies to get involved in such a political situation. But in situations where institutions have lost control, I wouldn’t mind such a solution,” he said in an interview in Kigali with Reuters on the eve of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

» read more (Financial Times)

US staff conference offering for rwanda

InterVarsity/USA staff at Staff Conference 08 were given the opportunity to participate in an offering for the Rwanda conference, and challenged with the goal of raising $30,000. The offering would go to cover all remaining outstanding costs of the conference as well as fund student movement outreaches to overcome racial and ethnic strife in Rwanda and other countries. Staff responded generously at the conference and afterwards. As of January 25, 2008, the offering total was $34755.26.

» read more (including details from my report on the conference) on the InterVarsity website

News from Kenya.

I just received news from two friends and colleagues in Kenya regarding the situation there.

Dear Andy,

We greatly appreciate the prayers for our country. Its difficult to say how things are because they keep on changing daily. For example there has been a wave of escalation of violence in the last three days in the Rift Valley parts of Kenya, yet there is relative calm and normalcy in several other parts. What I can say is that there is hope that things will return to normal and the sticky political issues resolved justly. Several of our staff in the Rift Valley cannot move freely and go about their work. One of them has received threats daily that her house will be burned because she comes from a tribe considered alien in that place.

We thank God that most campuses & colleges have began re-opening for their new terms/semesters. Staff have been discussing how best to help the students who are adversely affected emotionally, economically and spiritually.

Keep on praying with us.

—-

Dear Andy,

Thanks for your concern and prayers about our country. It is our first and unpleasant experience of a situation we only watch happening in other countries. We are all praying and keeping optimism that it will not dig deeper, but we shall by each day overcome the plague. Just to give you a general perspective: As at yesterday we noticed that the handshakes of the two protagonists was nothing, but a public consolation. The evidence was clear when in Nakuru, a relatively calm town in the recent past, erupted with violence causing the loss of almost 20 people in a day! The two protagonists (after the handshake) have uttered words that seem to have set them on clear ‘war’ paths. One may not be sure how to interprete the results of their stands. But we keep praying. The amount of suffering psychologically and economically cannot be fully accounted for. So pray for the many ordinary Kenyans who have been affected directly and indirectly.

Thanks for your assistance and may God bless you.

A honey trap.

Sermon notes from Sunday 13 January // Genesis 39

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

How would society react to a story like this one today – what would be their attitude to the issues raised?

Whilst this chapter looks particularly at Joseph’s response to sexual temptation, we ought to also consider a wide variety of other examples of lust – uncontrolled desire – not just what we see in Genesis 39.

Joseph’s battle for sexual purity (in this case, adultery) must also be our battle if we want to follow Christ.

Joseph’s rise: despite being sold into slavery, Joseph used this adversity as an opportunity to grow and mature, rather than to shrivel into bitterness. We also have a choice as to how we handle adversity in our own lives.

“The LORD was with Joseph…” – this is recognised at the start of this chapter, as things are going well, and is also also acknowledged by Potiphar. It was the LORD that prospered Joseph. As we live out the small details of our daily lives for Christ, this is what people will notice.

Joseph’s test: we live in a sex-saturated society, and it is often as we are going about our daily business that we can be surprised how this hits us in the face in such a stark way. This was the same for Joseph as he was met with the brevity of his tempter’s demand: “lie with me”.

Joseph’s reply is much longer, as he heaps up the reasons against doing such a thing. But he didn’t just talk, he acted (he got out of there), and against repeated attempts by Potiphar’s wife.

John Piper has put together a very helpful strategy for fighting lust, using the acronym ANTHEM. You can read the article in full by visiting the Desiring God resource library, but in outline form this is:

  • A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire.
  • N – say NO to every lustful thought within 5 seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable.
  • T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying “no” will not suffice. You must move from defense to offence.
  • H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out.
  • E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal.
  • M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might.

See www.desiringgod.org for many more useful resources.

These temptations can destroy us, or grow us.

The cost of integrity for Joseph: in the short-term, maintaining integrity can come at great cost, sometimes owing to people’s hostility towards this integrity.

Integrity can be costly, but do not yield. This is just a different stage in the same battle.

At home group I was challenged by thinking how, at the point of being put in prison, I would have put a lot of energy into seeking justice – getting out of prison and clearing my name – rather than working my best for God in this new situation, trusting Him for where I was.

In this difficult place, we are reminded that “The LORD was with Joseph…”. God is still working out his plan, in and through Joseph. How much do we trust God’s plans wherever he puts us?

Blair takes on unpaid role as Rwanda adviser

Tony Blair is widening his post-premiership portfolio by becoming an unpaid adviser to the Rwandan government of President Kagame.

In the first indication of the kind of work Blair would like to undertake in Africa, he has despatched a three-strong team to Rwanda to see how he will be able to help build the capacity of the once war torn government.

Blair has been impressed by the way Rwanda has transformed itself since the 1994 genocide and believes he can raise funds to help the government. The country already has the second highest growth rate in Africa, but half the government’s budget is based on overseas aid.

» read more (Guardian Unlimited)

Schoolboy cricketers bat their way to a place in the Commonwealth

November 20, 2007

The applause drifts gently across the ground as bat strikes ball and the figures in whites make their dash for the crease. A boy leans on his bicycle on the edge of the outfield to take in the scene and catch up on the score.

It may sound like any village on a pleasant Sunday afternoon – but this is Kicukiro Oval in French-speaking Rwanda, where eager schoolboys are getting to grips with the unfamiliar English game.

» read more (The Times)

Delectable mountains.

Spent some of this evening talking about C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan – great writers who understood how to engage their audience with big ideas using creative narrative. I’m currently reading Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, and wish there were more writers like him around today.

Some of the things I most appreciate about C.S. Lewis:

  • his perceptive understanding of how the human heart functions;
  • his honesty about struggles with faith;
  • his ability to undermine the ploys of the enemy, showing them for what they are;
  • his engaging style of writing.

It’s refreshing to find a book that doesn’t come in the ‘self-help’ style of many Christian books published today.

Tom was showing me the 1866 collection of John Bunyan’s writing he took delivery of today, and we spent some time reading and reflecting on a couple of the paragraphs on salvation and calling: “he chose us… before the foundation of the world”.

Together with Lewis’ writing on our struggle to comprehend eternity – “Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.” -
I have plenty to be thinking about in the next few weeks.

Delectable Mountains are the mountains covered with sheep in the Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan), from which the pilgrim obtains a view of the Celestial City.

A dysfunctional family.

Sermon notes from Sunday 6 January 2008 // Genesis 37

Joseph came from a pretty dysfunctional family. His siblings were the product of four different mothers, one of whom was dead, another hated, and two that were not properly married to the father.

Dysfunctional families were not – and are not – something new. You only have to look at Genesis 4 to see the ‘Cain and Abel’ problem.

And yet, through this family of Joseph’s, God plans to bless all the nations of the earth.

This was an unhappy family – with Jacob showing clear favouritism towards Joseph, firstborn of his beloved Rachel. Now she is dead, Joseph becomes the sole object of these affections.

Familial or generational inherited patterns of behaviour can have a long lasting impact – the sins of a father being repeated in the third and fourth generation. Praise God that gospel people have the Spirit, who can help to break patterns of destructive behaviour.

What patterns of behaviour do I need to beware of? What would I *not* want my children to inherit?

This was a broken family – v12 feels a bit like watching casualty – the scene is set in which you know calamity is going to follow.

Reuben and Judah limit what happens, but nobody stands up to stop what is happening – they are destroying each other.

Look to prevent your own tragedy. Beware of the snow piling up, and let the snow melt helpfully before an avalanche. Cut off the fuel to the engine that is speeding to destruction. Clear the safety channel that prevents the dam wall from collapsing tragically.

This was a family without God – not once is the question asked as to what God thinks of this situation. He doesn’t even get a mention. Reuben is fearful of his father, but not of his Heavenly Father. They were living as practical atheists. But God is there. He gave Joseph the dreams. He had his hand on Joseph.

“God intended it for good…”

There are many stories, even close at hand, of God turning bad family situations around.

Will I be a Godly leader in my ‘family’, praying for Godly fruit in the ‘generations’ that follow?

Given the nature of this sermon, and the importance of family, you might also be interested in the work of Care for the Family – helping those hurting because of family breakdown.