A letter from Brenda Harcourt in Kenya
Well, this last week and weekend were very different than I had planned. I was heading to Nairobi to work on getting information for three visitors going to the United States and to lay the groundwork for a smooth trip. However, God had different plans.
About a month ago I received an email from a Presbyterian U.S. military chaplain saying he was going to be in Kenya and wanted to know if we could go for lunch. It turns out he is from Blackhawk (my home presbytery). I agreed and so we contacted each other upon arrival in Nairobi to set up a luncheon time.
In the meantime, a very good friend of mine from Ghana (where I served as a mission co-worker years ago), whom I have known for over 23 years, is serving as the deputy secretary general of the AACC (All African Conference of Churches) and we try to get together when I am in Nairobi to just catch up and sometimes for me to have a home cooked Ghanaian meal. His name is Bright, and he is also a Presbyterian. So I thought maybe the chaplain would like to meet a fellow Presbyterian, and Bright and I set up a luncheon time. When I contacted the chaplain he was delighted and said that he was in Kenya meeting religious leaders.
It turns out that the Presbyterian chaplain was a lieutenant colonel and had traveled with a colonel, also a military chaplain and a rabbi, to meet with religious leaders regarding the possibility of the military working with religious leaders on peace and reconciliation so that we can possibly avoid some of the problems currently facing parts of Africa. They are based in Djibouti and are responsible to all of East Africa. So the two chaplains, Bright and two of his coworkers at AACC and I had lunch and were very excited about working together on this project. Since AACC was already doing some of what they talked about it looked like a good place to start.
Now, remember that I told you one of the chaplains was a rabbi. So the next day being Friday, they wanted to go around to a game reserve and also the rabbi wanted to go to Sabbath worship at the synagogue. Security is usually very tight and we were told which gate to go to, and the rabbi had registered ahead as was expected. The two Presbyterians followed along and were invited to worship as well. I am sure it was the rabbi we were traveling with that made it so special. So here we were: two Presbyterians and a rabbi from the United States worshiping in a synagogue in Kenya.
We went out to dinner after worship and had a delicious meal at a Middle Eastern restaurant. People here have a hard time understanding kosher and so we found that it is easier to just eat salads, etc.
Saturday found us traveling to Lamuru to visit with the secretary general and deputy secretary general so they could meet the chaplains as well. They, too, were very interested in what we might be able to work out and were excited to meet their first rabbi. They also gave us more contacts for future visits.
The three of us, Jon, David and myself felt it was God’s providence that we should meet and that things fell into place so well for them to meet religious leaders and the possibility of entering into some future conferences and dialogue.
You just never know what God may have in store for you when you set out on an adventure, but keep your options open for God’s leading.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 59