I’m not sure how I became a Political Science major at Clemson University. I’m really not interested in politics, going to law school, or running for office. Instead, my main interest is how the government works and how it influences people.
I often get the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?” My answer has almost always been “go into ministry,” which is then coupled with a variety of confusing looks and some awkward tension as the questioner tries to figure out the link between Political Science and Jesus Christ. Typically, it’s followed by an “Oh” and a rapid shift in the conversation.
If you were to ask the average American, I would find it hard to believe that a lot of people believe that Jesus is in politics. After all, there is a separation of church and state, they would say, and it is rare and far between to find a politician who lives a life as a representative of Christ. However, in my experience, I’ve noticed that the political realm has a greater influence on our faith and religion than most would notice.
This past May, my belief was confirmed even more when I had the opportunity to travel to Kijabe, Kenya, with Love Africa Mission. As almost anyone will tell you upon coming home from a mission trip, my faith and my view of God was changed forever. However, that was not the only thing that changed.
My view of politics and the government, in light of Jesus, changed forever as well.
Prior to traveling to Kijabe, I had the privilege of taking an African Politics class, through which I learned some of the “behind the scene” details of how Kenya runs and why the country is the way it is, especially in terms of the poverty level. To put it lightly, those details alone are enough to break your heart before you even step on the airplane.
For a lot of people, they see Kenya as a beautiful country with beautiful people who are affected by poverty because, well, they live in Africa and that’s the norm.
My eyes see Kenya differently. I see Kenya as yes, a beautiful country with beautiful people, but also as a country that has the second highest self-paid government officials in the WORLD. I see Kenyans as a beautiful nation with people who are oppressed by their government, in which officials are concerned more with ensuring a comfortable, even luxurious, lifestyle for themselves rather than with providing basic necessities to the millions of people throughout the country.
To understand the corruption, you must first understand the complicated nature of sub-Saharan Africa’s politics. One of the many defining factors is tribalism, which is a strong allegiance to one’s tribe or ethnic groups. Tribalism is wide-spread throughout Africa, and is particularly evident in Kenya. However, tribalism can cause massive amounts of corruption due to this strong loyalty the voters and public officials experience.
In the Kenyan Presidential Election of 2007, this was showcased on a massive, tragic scale. Corrupt measures were taken in the voting process to ensure that the incumbent would win the election once again, although the other candidate was expected to win based on polling data and the votes previously counted. When the incumbent was deemed the winner, ethnic tensions and conflict skyrocketed; in essence, a majority of the ethnic groups in Kenya turned again the tribe of the winner, the Kikuyus.
The people of the IDP camp Moihengeri, the people that I got to spend time with while in Kenya, identify as Kikuyu and lived through the vast amounts of violence, as well as have lived with the repercussions of the corruption for eight long years. I heard the testimonies of people in the camp, who were ran off from their homes under fear of being killed. I saw people who are now fighting to have clean water to sustain their families, but remember having businesses and farms to sustain themselves. Everything changed for them after the tragic election day in 2007.
My heart shattered hearing all the things that these loving people have experienced, but my heart broke even more knowing that people, living in a fallen world filled with sin, caused this to happen. The government was the one responsible for these injustices.
At this point, it was easy to believe Jesus simply was not involved, to believe that somehow, God has forgotten about Kenya from 2007-2008, and accidentally let all this happen and let lives fall apart.
Then, I heard stories of faith being strengthened, of the Lord consistently showing up and providing for them, of true biblical community that helped them survive these past eight years together. I got to listen to the journey these followers of Christ took to forgiving those who had attacked them, those that had done so much damage to their families and lives.
Once you hear those stories, the only answer is “Only Jesus.”
Only Jesus can make that transformation, and only the Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God can heal those scars. Jesus was there and working, and making beauty out of the ashes.
It is easy to lose sight of this when I hear about the tragedy and corruption that is still occurring in the country that I grew to love so dearly; it is the result of living in a broken, sinless world. However, as Christmas approaches, we have reason to celebrate and have hope.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
The Lord promises that He is going to send a Savior that will be above every government, one that will rule with justice and righteousness. The Savior is going to make everything right when He returns, but in addition to that, He is making everything beautiful RIGHT NOW. He has already defeated sin and death and corruption, and therefore He is able to use the corrupt actions of government officials to bring His name glory! What a King!
The Christmas season is a wonderful time to sit back in remembrance and anticipation, knowing that our Savior has come. Instead of fixating on the brokenness surrounding us, let’s take this time to see the brokenness and allow it to point us back in celebration to the birth of Jesus, the one true and mighty King.
Written by Taylor Frick
Daughter | Author | Clemson Tiger