African Christian College, I sincerely apologize.
The rolling of my eyes is a gut reaction to any grandiose speech dripping of honey, but hiding the bee. Change the World has become the catch phrase of my generation, like the superficial ring of “World Peace!” from the lips of beauty pageant bikinis. So it’s not that I don’t believe you or admire your zeal, I’ve just been worn thin on what those words mean or if they’re even possible.
You say you want to change Africa. I want to say you haven’t got an impala’s chance in the Serengeti.
I’m tempted to say stop kidding yourselves and settle on a simple and enjoyable life. I could offer my own vantage of reality where passion is too often diluted by the growl of stomachs or the weight of eyelids or the ecstasy of TV on demand. In a twisted mockery of nobility, I would save you from the pain of the sacrifice you must make to become fully alive, because when they say the old must die before the new can be raised, they mean it. Could I entice you to quit now, to forego the notion of whatever you think change means?
Your eyes are kind, but firm; you allow your stories to announce your answer.
I hear how my new friend Siboniso nearly lost his life last Christmas because he was ambushed on the road by the school, yet preaches the goodness of God until the words are caught in my nerves, shaking me to the dry bones. Your smile and concern for who I am illuminates the shadows of my comfortable reality. The shallow barrage of my consumerist reality offers no satisfaction in the presence of your fervor for Jesus. I am humbled by your gaze.
I hear how Dan, a first-year student, was robbed of every possession last week on his way to school here. His journey begins with a loss I cannot imagine, yet a gentler and kinder spirit I have not met. For him, the world is a gift he embraces with thanksgiving. The difficult steps in being faithful to God’s word for his life have put flesh on text and littered his road with the question: What are you going to do now? Without looking back, he follows in the dust of his rabbi.
I hear accounts of abandonment, of fatherless upbringings, of abuse and neglect, of poor choices, of supernatural encounters, and my skepticism falters. I listen in wonder as I realize how easily my hope has been hijacked over the years. What I hear when you speak are the voices leading me out of my own and back into a worthy kingdom. My game of thrones has left me wanting; unsatisfied and disheartened. I thought change would be dictated by my own authority, but each of you here have shown me the true nature of what it means to change the world.
I lift the gold I stole off my head, letting it slip from my fingers as the reverberating clang heralds the true King. I kneel beside my brothers and sisters here at A.C.C. to willingly don the only crown which will ever change our world: the one Jesus wore that one Friday.
As the thorns puncture the skin, the secret of our shared longing drips a deep crimson down our brows. The color of service. The color of love. The color of a world being changed.
Joshua and Jenny Gorenflo are visiting African Christian College for six weeks and we’re keeping them busy at work in many ways. This post by Joshua is part of a series where they will be sharing their experience on campus.
Joshua is an adventurer in search of beautiful stories to share. He seeks a more generous view of the world and contributes to that goodness in whatever way possible. He is a wordsmith at gotkingdom.blogspot.com and is training to be an Aikido master. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGorenflo.