Since hearing about the post-election conflict in Kenya, there is one image from several years ago that has been springing to mind. An eight-year old grinning boy named Peter walking a new-to-him bike up and down the street. Peter had just been given an old beat up bicycle that most of us would toss to the curb. He couldn't even pedal it as the chain was broken, but Peter didn't care. He had a bike. And he loved it.
Peter and his family lived a couple doors down from us at seminary. My whole neighborhood was mostly international students; there were only a few American families in my section. Since arriving from Kenya to live in their tiny townhouse, their family had furnished the home with castoffs and freebies from other students. The children wore clean but mismatched clothes everyday to school. The family was so grateful for all the gifts they had been given.
My friend Bonnie and I volunteered with a ministry that offered day old bread to seminary students. We traveled from grocery store to grocery store picking up bread and pastries destined for the garbage bin, threw away all the moldy items, and shelved the rest. As a benefit, we were given first pick of the day old offerings. I thought we were above eating this food, but we were cash poor and needed it. Bonnie and I worked the store and helped families bag their items. The international students were so grateful for the food, thanking us and showing excitement over doughnuts and cake. I gulped down a little nausea each time I bit into our bread. My family vowed we would never eat day old bread as soon as we could afford it.
I will never forget the look of joy and gratefulness from those who have so little.
"Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die" - U2