Believe it or not, Kenyans can survive the Dunedin Autumn! Over this past weekend I had the privileged of visiting our first reverse-mission team – a group of twelve passionate, trendy and intelligent Kenyans. And because this was an opportunity not to be missed, I brought with me our three Haerenga Interns. The plan was to throw these three into the midst of the action (while I document everything from behind my camera).
We left early afternoon in hopes of joining in at a combined youth event where the team would be present. Alas, we arrived just in time to hear one of the team utter the final sentences of his testimony. What he said was deep and powerful… but we missed it!
The next morning the team were scheduled to attend the Dunedin farmers market. To be perfectly honest, out of all the 300+ events they will be part of, this was the one I was most excited about. Here was an opportunity for them to meet with people who would never step inside of a church, a chance to glorify God in the public square (… and an opportunity for some great video!).
In contrast to the previous days, that morning we were greeted by some rather sour weather. I was the first to arrive and I half expected to be alone for the morning, but eventually the team drifted in. And, impressively, they weren’t shivering too hard under their warm coats and jackets. (Let’s not forget that Dunedin weather and Kenyan weather sit on the opposite end of the spectrum.)
The team had been assigned a space – thankfully under the train station shelter – where they could set up to sing and dance for passersby, a space jammed between a preserved goods stall and one selling various baked goods. Samuel was the first to arrive and with him came his trusty guitar. At first he thought performing with gloves on was a good idea, but within a few minutes he braved the cold and freed his fingers from their warm abode. As the rest of them drifted in things picked up. The volume and excitement grew as more and more Kenyan voices were added to the mix. A hand drum was brought out enabling our friends to start grooving to the music. Before long people were congregating on that narrow platform, gathering to watch these joy-filled, up-beat Africans move to the music.
What caught us all by surprise was the repeated request that we provide a way for people to give to these supposed ‘buskers.’ A guitar case was laid out, and within a few minutes it was packed full of apples, chillies, chilli paste, coins and cash… So much was given that we had to track down a (large) bag to haul it away in. What makes this even more exciting is that the team were preparing for an African cultural evening this Friday. To properly share a culture you simply have to have food, but the team didn’t yet know how they would fit this into their budget. All of a sudden, and without seeking after it, they have most of the produce and almost all of the money they needed to make that event a success! God’s provision is amazing, and somethings unexpectedly surprising.
With over 300 events they are involved with why share this story? No one ‘got saved.’ Nothing dramatic happened. But here were a group of world-class missionaries-to-New-Zealand rubbing shoulders with normal kiwis in the public square. There were actively and vocally worshiping the God of creation in the midst of stalls, families, sinners and saints. And here they were, depending on God to provide for them as they seek to reach out to New Zealanders. The reason this stands out to me is this is precisely what I’ve been involved with when I’ve traveled to other nations – but in this situation I was the local, the one on the receiving end, the one they had come to bless. To see all they are doing for me and my land is truly humbling. What an honour that God would send such people to my nation in this bicentennial year.