This picture shows a scene that takes place every afternoon. Children that are fortunate enough to go to school are making their way home for the evening. There are no car lines full of parents waiting to pick there precious ones up and take them home or to a variety of extra-curricular activities. There are no big, yellow school buses delivering loads of children safely to their doorsteps.
These children are simply turned loose and sent home. Some will walk. But many will hitch rides with passing vehicles, or take a dala dala (vans that serve as public transportation here).
I've heard stories in the past few months of parents in the US facing criticism and legal problems because they forced their children to walk to destinations less than a mile away. I don't know the details of those situations, and my purpose is not to comment specifically about them one way or another. It is just interesting to observe how starkly different life is for people living in different parts of the world. Even though we live in the same time, and the world is smaller than it's ever been, people's lives can be so varied that they can't even fathom what it means to live another way.
When it comes to most aspects of life, it is just fine that we live differently. Cultures need not be the same. The differences add spice and variety. It is really a shame the way that mass media is facilitating the disappearance of local cultures as they meld into a homogeneous global one - but that's a topic for another time and place.
Really, I have two points. First, it is healthy for us to open our eyes to the fact that the way we are living life is not the only (or even necessarily best) way to live life. "Everybody" doesn't in fact have the latest gadget, nor does everybody even know it exists. (You should see the Tanzanians marvel at the GPS in my car!) Everybody doesn't share the same interest. (The poor folks here think that footballs are round with black spots.) And that's okay.
Secondly, there is one aspect of life that is not open to variety and personal preference. That is Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is not one of many paths, but rather he is THE way. He is not one of many possible truths, but rather he is THE truth. He is not one of many acceptable lifestyles, but rather he is THE life. These points are absolute and non-negotiable. This conviction is at the heart of missions, and the heart of the Christian life in general. Spreading Christ must be a high priority for us all, both home and abroad. Let's not allow ourselves to be so distracted by the differences that don't matter that forget the only one that really does.
Would you like for me to visit your congregation during our next furlough?
Dates are still available so contact me if you are interested.