Want to come to Africa with me?

If you’ve read EMC or follow this blog, you know that I have been enriched deeply by my times in Africa with a wonderful group called Amahoro. (It’s the Bantu word for shalom or peace.) I try to make it over each year for the gathering there … a gathering planned and organized by Africans for Africans, with a small group of guests from American, Europe, Australia, etc.
This year the theme of the gathering will be Christ, Creation, and Community. (Full description after the jump.) The setting will be Mombassa, Kenya, a beautiful place in a beautiful country. The gathering will begin May 3 and end May 6, and then guests will join local folks for various field trips until the 10th or 11th. These field trips give you a chance to deepen relationships and see some beautiful work at close range. (I’ll be leading one of these field trips this year.)
Unfortunately, participating isn’t cheap. Airfare ends up being between $1700 and $2000 from the US, and we guests pay $1300 for registration, lodging, and ground transportation (our fees help cover the costs for Africans who could never be there otherwise). All I can say is that for me, this is an investment in priceless relationships and in support of a truly worthwhile mission, not to mention the investment in my own education and spiritual development. (Even though I generally do a bit of teaching at these events, I always go a as a learner and learn far, far more than I teach.)
If you’ve never been to Africa, this is an amazing first experience. If you have been part of Amahoro before, I think this year’s theme will take us into important new territory. Think about it and pray about it, and consider joining me in Africa this May. If you have questions, please direct them to the good people at Amahoro.

From the Amahoro website:

Christ, Creation and Community
We see throughout the Biblical narrative the demonstration of God’s creativity and His care for His creation – be it heaven, earth, stars, birds of the air, lilies of the field, the Hebrews, Samaritans, Jews and Greeks. God loves all of His creations – and this includes our earth, cultures and communities. Jesus participates in the work of creation and continues a close relationship with the cosmos, ever sustaining, reconciling and restoring all things. The divine interest in creation began with the formation of the earth, and us from it, but does not cease until there is the restoration, resurrection and redemption of all.
As we understand God’s intent in creation we come to a clearer picture of true humanity. We bear His image, and we share in His creating abilities and care-taking responsibilities for all that He has created. We see in the deep connection between Christ and creation both an invitation to enter this dynamic relationship with the cosmos and also a challenge to care for our earth as we care for our communities that inhabit the earth. There is a divine connection for those of us in His Kingdom, for we are part of His vast and vibrant creation.
Across Africa, we are blessed with many of God’s most extravagant creatures, landscapes and cultures. We also suffer piercing traumas, putting us in touch with the groaning of creation, the longing for redemption and relief from troubles, disasters caused by nature and humans. How can we tend creation when our communities are in dire need of emergency care, when our spirits are crying out for healing and our bodies quenched for lack of clean water to drink? How can we celebrate the majesty of God’s creation when we live amid such impoverished conditions, in terrain that is east of Eden?
What we are learning is that as creation is pushed to the margins, the first to suffer are the poor. While the wealthy nations of the world expand their markets and hoard natural resources in the pursuit of more, it is the poor nations (many in Africa) that inherit the refuse. Global climate change has altered the age-old cycles of wet and dry seasons, with disastrous effect for those who live by subsistence farming. The tired soil robbed of nutrients, the contaminated waters, the growing desert and lands bereft of once lush forests. All these conditions contribute to a bleak landscape for the communities in Africa, land that cannot produce ample food, waters that are unfit to drink, polluted air that is unhealthy to breath, resulting in health issues that steal life too soon. When creation is exploited, the poor suffer. Their lot in life gets exponentially harder when resources are depleted or tainted with toxins. So caring for creation, as Christ does Himself, is caring for the condition of the poor in our communities.
As we work to transform our communities with the good news of Christ, we must see our work within the larger context of the cosmos. God has set each community within His creation and we are discovering that our well-being is interconnected with the health of our local ecosystems and the earth. As we follow Christ in the work of restoring all things, this includes both creation and communities.
This year when we gather together we will reflect on the theology of Creation, on the nature of Christ’s relationship with Creation and what that means for His followers and explore together how we can better care for our communities as we take a more holistic approach and care for local landscapes as well.