Lessons From Kenya

June 26, 2017
By Ben Hornsby, Director of Men's Ministry

“You are the light of the world. A town built on hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

I just returned from Kenya a few weeks ago. I have been on many mission trips to Kenya, and each time I return, I tell myself that this is the last trip. But within a few weeks of my return home, something stirs within me, and I start thinking about the next trip. Over the years I have served with incredible people who believe Jesus when He said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” I have been blessed beyond measure through observing people who are loving, serving, and sharing in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On this most recent trip, I was struck by how many Kenyan men have lost their way. Domestic abuse is a pervasive cultural problem: a great number of men think it is manly to harm their wives physically and mentally. I had the opportunity to stand before a group of Kenyan women who had been abused. Looking into their expressionless eyes and faces, I sensed the profound hurt and guilt they felt. As I stood there, I was asked to speak a few words to the ladies. I must admit that a range of emotions rushed through me in that moment: I felt anger, I felt sadness, but what I felt most was shame — shame that men had so lost their way that they would resort to harming women in order to feel better about themselves. The violence doesn’t achieve the intended result, so the pattern of abuse continues and continues and continues. This is not of God. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

Now, lest you think I am being unfair to Kenyan men, let me say this: far too often, we, the men of the church, have abdicated our position as the spiritual leader of the family. You don’t have to look far to see the dysfunction that results when the man is physically or spiritually absent. Culturally, we are depicted as pot-bellied, beer-drinking, emotionally-immature idiots. While some men in our society do assume the role of spiritual leader, many do not. If our families and churches are to flourish, we must do better. We must let our light shine and let it shine brightly. For far too long, we have placed a bowl over the Light. We can do that no more. What we do now, both good and bad, will affect not only our families today but our children’s families and generations to come.

Do not misunderstand what I am saying. We men are not to lord over our families. We are to lead humbly by example. We should be the ones to encourage daily Bible study, prayer, service to others, and worship. We should be at the forefront of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ! It is time to, as Isaiah writes in 60:1, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” It is time, men. It is past time. The great thing about the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit is it is never, ever too late for us!

May God grant us the will and the strength to move forward in His mighty name.