Lessons learnt: Religion

*This post might come off  as potentially controversial and somewhat judgmental and that is absolutely NOT my intention. I intend to say honestly and simply what I feel and reflect on some of the lessons I have learnt.

This month marks five years since I moved to South Africa.  Indeed, I moved here very young and in some respects, very naive  and open to so many life experiences. In the time I have been here, I have learnt various lessons but the one that stand out in a mega way to me is the  heterogeneity and difference among groups of people. Kenya in some respects (or the circles I moved in) is very homogeneous and  a lot of the people I socialised with were very much like me – in terms of race, socioeconomic standing and more importantly religion.

I went through Christian schooling, right from primary to university and had surprisingly little contact with non-Christians ( it helps also that Kenya is viewed as being 80% Christian). To be exact, I  went to school with only two Muslims but they had to adapt to my faith/ appear not to openly champion theirs and so it was not much of a learning experience. Since moving out here, I have met more Muslims, Hindus, people who don’t practice any faith and amazingly an atheist. Has my faith changed or been challenged in any particular way. Absolutely not. Coming from a  religion that seeks to proselytise, it does get a bit odd when I do hang out with someone from “another” faith and a huge part of me really wants to teach and preach. I find that I do pray about it (probably not as hard or as dedicatedly as I could, but I do pray that by my actions, I stand apart and not blend too much. Buts it’s hard) The atheist, I was shocked – I did realize at that point though that I would sooner have someone who does not believe in my God ( The Triune God) but some other heavenly being than someone who claims to have no faith in anything (but themselves). My faith and belief is a guiding principle and tolerance for other faiths stems from this role it plays and so to take this out just dumbfounds me.

Another positive aspect of living out my faith here has been the fact that I attend an Anglican Church that has people of all racial backgrounds and its a truly a joy to see us worshipping God in all the hues and shades that He intended at Creation. The shocking thing though is the age dynamic. I would place the average age at between 50 and 60. Some of the people that serve as priests, sidesmen and sound are in this age range. It’s a common occurrence during the service to say a prayer for a congregant who is severely bedridden or one that was laid to rest in that week (in both cases, an elderly member). During service, I sometimes wonder about the future of the service when all the older folk pass on. Will the rest of us decide at that point to also take up the mantle and serve around the church?

What I do miss from Home is the fact that I belonged to a vibrant (Anglican) Youth group and frequently went to a small group bible study where I was held accountable and got to know and love the other ladies that also participated. I wish I could replicate the same thing here but at my church, they tried to have a Youth Group going and only three of us showed up! A possible alternative is to join another Church for this aspect but I love being Anglican and would greatly struggle.

* This is the first of  what I hope to be a series of posts on reflections/ lessons since moving cities.


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