Engage for the peace of Africa
October 3, 2003
Four visitors to Greenville braced themselves against the cold Wednesday evening as they toured downtown. It may not have seemed that cold to you, but you don’t live in a country that serves as an intersection for the equator.
The Foreign Affairs Minister and United Nations Ambassador for Kenya along with their two companions enjoyed the stroll. They were accompanied by Mayor Knox White. Though they were impressed with the city, they were glad to climb back in the heated van for the short ride back to the Bob Jones University campus.
For the last three days, Greenville and Bob Jones University have enjoyed the company of a man who is a beacon of hope for Kenya specifically and all of Africa. He is part of, as President Bush would say, a new tone in the northwestern African nation. He is a man who seeks to take that tone and expand it into the surrounding countries such as Sudan and Somalia.
The Honorable Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka stood before the United Nations and spoke privately with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to give a report of his endeavors to broker a peace settlement between the warring factions of Sudan. Kenya has also been a leader in actively seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict within Somalia – of which we Americans are more personally aware.
Tuesday, at the United Nations this diplomat and possible future President of Kenya called upon on the international community to support the reconstruction efforts in Sudan in order to help shore up the momentum towards peace. On Wednesday, the Minister stood before a different group as he spoke to the student body of Bob Jones University and a number of visitors from the community. His plea was for help. However, it was not a plea for money, soldiers or politicians. It was a plea for the Gospel.
Mr. Musyoka took time from his official schedule to come and visit an institution that has been visiting his country since the late 1970s. At that time Dr. John Dreisbach began his medical missions work in West Africa. The University’s Unusual Films division produced the feature length film Beyond the Night recounting those early endeavors. That ministry lead to medical students becoming involved in summer teams to the continent.
Others have followed with the more recent teams branching out from a purely medical focus. Students have stayed from four to sometimes eight weeks working in the bush. They have helped to construct a clinic building and meet the needs of some of Africa's poorest - at times side by side with Minister Musyoka. Premed and nursing students stay longer to work at the clinic. Though these students work hard to meet the physical needs of their newfound friends, their primary focus is to reach the hearts of these spiritually needy people.
Six former team members are now serving in Africa and another is currently on deputation with is wife to go to Kenya. The goal of the teams is to generate a love for people in the hearts of the team members for the purpose of leading them to give their lives in the example of David Livingstone.
The University also offers opportunity to Kenyan students who would not have the ability to attend a University in America the chance to come and study. These students have returned to their native countries to become leaders among their people.
It was this interaction that the Minister challenged the student body to take up. He unashamedly recognized the power that the Gospel has to bring peace. First, to the hearts of individuals and then to nations. It is obvious that the Gospel has brought peace to his own heart and he is now motivated to seek the peace of his people and his continent.
He leaves his friends today to join the President of Kenya for the first state dinner that President Bush will have with an African leader. President Bush professes that this same Gospel has brought peace and strength to his own heart. I trust that these two men will find their hearts knit together in Christian brotherhood and that our President will hear the request of Kenya to join with them to make that country a beacon of hope in a troubled continent.
Raise the travel advisory, President Bush. Kenya desires to spread our same ideals of liberty and justice. There are men of integrity there who are our friends. Allow our students to continue their missions to Africa. There are 350 Bob Jones University students who desire to participate in missions around the world this summer. Unfortunately, the Kenyan mission is in jeopardy because of these travel restrictions.
The door is being opened. The welcome is being proffered. We can engage and peace can be advanced. We can turn our backs and peace will be delayed. Our young people are willing to take the risk to gain the reward. We can learn from their optimism and courage.