kilimanjaro

Finding God on the Slopes of Kilimanjaro

Margareth said:

Like you, I have found Aish articles really uplifting. It has really made me respectful for the profound wisdom I see in the articles there.

There are people like this I have met on the slopes of mount Kilimanjaro where my mother comes from. Their lives are hard and yet when you make an impromptu visit, their lined faces literally beam with happiness and they make sure they give a prayer of thanks before you are invited to eat and before you go. They put me to quite to shame in their faith and hope and joyfulness of attitude. Maybe the city life is what is destroying me…I do love being up there on the mountain. The missionaries outdid themselves up there.

I trust your day has gone well.

To which I replied:

My day is fine, Margareth. Thank you.

I know you’ve described the hardships of your life, but from my point of view living in southwestern Idaho, it seems incredible to be able to say you met people living on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. It illustrates that no matter who we are or where we live, no matter how far apart we are in terms of geography, nationality, language, and culture, we are all one in the Lord God. Most of us, we believers in the United States, tend to believe our problems and lives here are the only problems and lives. We rarely pull out heads out of the sand to realize how truly diverse are the people of God, how different our experiences, our very lives are from one another. And yet we are all brothers and sisters through our faith in Messiah. May he return soon and in our day.

I’d like to pull this brief transaction from the comments here and make it a blog post all it’s own. This realization, which escapes most of the Church in the west, needs to be pointed out and brought to light. I only wish I could bring these words to every Christian, Hebrew Roots person, and everyone attached to Messianic Judaism in any way, so we could all open our eyes and see that our struggles aren’t the only struggles, and that people of deep faith live all across the face of the Earth. It is God’s world and He will one day come back to live among us, in His Temple in Jerusalem, and the King will once again rule with Justice and Righteousness.

kilimanjaroThe first time I ever heard of Mt. Kilimanjaro was when I became aware of Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and much to my chagrin, I must admit to never having read it. But Hemingway isn’t the point. What Margareth said is.

I know when she mentioned visiting the people who live on the mountain’s slopes, and saying that’s where her mother comes from, they were simply statements of fact. But for someone like me, someone who is not all that well-travelled, and someone who pays far too much attention than I should to the “first world problems” declared by the news and social media pundits, it brought my own staggering ignorance into stark relief.

It also reminded me of just how ignorant most of us are in the United States of America, and probably many other western nations, to the true, vast expanse of the presence of the people of God in our world, all over the world.

In her brief descriptions of her life in the comments sections of Blessing God in a Dark World and Finding What’s Most Important, she has shown me a world I am completely unfamiliar with. And yet it is also a world where all we people of faith have a common mission and purpose. That mission and purpose is to bring the light of Messiah to others, in whatever we do, no matter who we are, no matter what language(s) we speak, no matter our nationality, history, culture, or personal experiences.

We have our master and teacher, Rav Yeshua, Jesus Christ in common. I know when our Rav walked this Earth, he came “for the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), and yet, he commissioned his disciples to make disciples of all the people of the Earth (Matthew 28:16-20), and assigned Rav Shaul, the Apostle Paul, the responsibility of being his special emissary to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-18).

To the best of his ability, and given the available modes of transportation of his day, Paul carried out his mission of bringing the good news of the Messiah, both to the Jews and the Gentiles living in the diaspora.

For the past nearly two-thousand years, others have taken up the mantle of the Apostle in bringing the good news to all the people of all the nations of the Earth. A lot of those missionaries have also caused a great deal of harm, destroyed the unique language of culture of many indigenous peoples, tortured, and even murdered people, Jews particularly, who would not convert to goyim Christianity, and committed many other acts that God condemns.

faithAnd yet, some remnant of the true intent of what Christians call “the Great Commission” survived. According to Margareth, the evidence of that lives on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro where her mother comes from.

I am amazed and pleased to pull my own head out of the sand and realize that I have something in common with people who live halfway around the world from me, people I’ll never meet, people, quite frankly, whose faith far outshines my own.

On the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, in the nation of Tanzania, on the continent of Africa, lives a people who have the same Messiah I do. They pray in his name. They greet visitors and travelers in the best tradition of Abraham (Genesis 18:1-8). Maybe the missionaries outdid themselves up on the mountain.

Or maybe the Spirit of God was exceedingly welcomed and has since resided with those humble people. The Church in America could learn a lot from them.

Thanks, Margareth. May God bless you and keep you forever in His Hand.

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21 thoughts on “Finding God on the Slopes of Kilimanjaro”

  1. One of the most amazing things we saw when we went for a funeral there of a beloved childhood neighbor recently was the extent to which people pulled together to help around the funeral house.
    The grave was dug on the plot owned by the deceased – and the church was full in the middle of the week! People filed in slowly from their farms to pay their last respects. Two families had to share the church for the two burials that coincided that day.
    You just had to look around and wonder.
    At my maternal grandfather’s funeral years before this, it was like a festival. His was held in another place – Marangu – one of the places climbers start their ascent to the Kibo peak. The food was plentiful. I had never attended a funeral where one had such a hearty meal for so large a crowd! I needed to say no eventually because I was travelling back to the city next day. They had slaughtered a huge white bull for the occasion. With difficulty, as the slaughterer came close to getting gored.
    “A Mighty Fortress” was sung and other songs were in the Chagga language. I joined in…w/o understanding Chaggaspeak!
    My grandfather (who had Maasai roots too) was a coffee farmer but also was a stand in pastor and evangelist for most of his active life. Uneducated, he had taught himself to read in order to understand his Bible. Billy Graham did visit Moshi once in ?1960/1961 which is near the mountain, so their paths must have crossed.
    I have never seen a man of his league here in devoutness and full of prayer. One thing he hated and never could condone upon his land was ritual ancestral sacrifices some would still practice despite their faith. When he had legs he would plod around to look around his land for such signs. If someone in the family wanted to slaughter a goat for meat, if he could, he would oversee it just to be sure it wasn’t for any other issue.
    He was ninety seven when he died. Had all his wits around him too. My mum had someone to look after him during his last days – and to read to him from his beloved Book daily.
    Once a few days before death came, the bedside reader told us he stopped thinking the old man had fallen asleep. He immediately roused, asking him to go on from where he had ended, even repeating the last sentence he had heard! Those words were the only thing that comforted him in the end.
    So he lies on the slopes next to his wife. He died in the hope of resurrection. His grave is piled high with stones with no name as per his instructions.
    I wish I had known him better. That is my greatest regret.

  2. I loved Margareth’s story of her grandfather peeling a piece a fruit too, for a grandchild. I appreciate your stories, Margareth Rose.

  3. What is the urgent issue in that area is continuity of faith…passing down the baton from one generation to another challenge. It is the more difficult task because for the younger generation now faith boils down to a cultural aspect of life. It becomes compartmentalised – not the fabric of who we are.
    When this happens, we have seen how a cultural form of Christianity is not robust enough to deal with relativism, pluralism, totalitarianism, political islam etc. It ends up folding before challenges.

  4. @Margareth Rose: Atheists always say that religion has been the cause of all human problems (wars, racism, etc…) for thousands of years, but religion has been thought of as a separate entity from any other aspect of life for only 150 to 200 years. Prior to that, as you say, faith, spirituality, and religious worship was an integral part of human existence.

    In ancient Rome, one couldn’t even do business without affiliation to one pagan god or another. It would have been unthinkable not to have a god of some kind, and in the post-Biblical era, this was still true.

    As atheism and secular humanism becomes more popular in western culture, especially in news and social media, it’s thought of as the de facto state of human beings. Religion is almost an aberration in the modern world, and I think you’re right when you say it will be increasingly difficult to transmit our faith to the next generation.

    Even for Jews, who are born into a covenant relationship with God (whether they want to be or not), lack of religious observance and assimilation into secular culture has become a crisis. Only Orthodox Judaism is growing in numbers, and only because the Orthodox tend to have a lot of children and live in semi-closed communities.

    Already, much of the Church has adapted to the demands of secular culture in the west, and there are a number of denominations who have fully become part of politically correct culture, advertising themselves as “inclusive,” and embracing, for example, the LGBTQ community.

    It’s not the responsibility of the Church of the Synagogue to transmit our values to the next generation, it’s ours as parents and grandparents, but even then, children drift away anyway.

  5. Its another day and yet another tragedy comes up – in France…I know that up on the slopes looking at rivers filled with water from the melting snow, it is so quiet and peaceful, one can hardly imagine there is such a thing as Daesh/ISIS/ISIL as well as the chaos in the Middle East.
    One thing the church cannot afford at this terrible time we are entering is disunity(not meant as uniformity) because a storm is already breaking out involving part of the body. It is time to draw on the strength we have always had at our disposal. And this lies outside us but is always there for us if we look for Him.
    It is not a matter of resignation – but resolving to gird ourselves with courage and filling our lamps with oil for the long haul ahead.

  6. It’s a heartbreaking time in the world, Margareth. I believe we are witnessing what has been called “the birthpangs of the Messiah,” that time of great trouble that must occur before Messiah’s return. The Church will be viciously attacked, all people of faith will be one way or another. As you say, it is a time for prayer, for courage, for keeping the faith, for being prepared.

  7. Margareth Rose said: What is the urgent issue in that area is continuity of faith…passing down the baton from one generation to another challenge. It is the more difficult task because for the younger generation now faith boils down to a cultural aspect […] compartmentalised – not the fabric of who we are.[…]not robust enough[….]

    James said: @Margareth Rose: Atheists always say that religion has been the cause of all human problems (wars, racism, etc…) for thousands of years, but religion has been thought of as a separate entity from any other aspect of life for only 150 to 200 years. Prior to that, as you say, faith, spirituality, and religious worship was an integral part of human existence.

    In ancient Rome, one couldn’t even do business without affiliation to one pagan god or another. It would have been unthinkable not to have a god of some kind, and[….]

    While both of these can be true, I don’t think they are the same thing. Passing on faith in an integrated way in a person, to our children, isn’t about how obligatory or imposed or expected it is.

    I suppose the children on the mountain are expected to believe what their parents believe (even if it isn’t an obligation or it isn’t enforced). But the pain would be in not seeing actual faith…

    …which can’t be enforced.

    “Faith” can still be compartmentalised if an obligation or law.

    Anyway, agreed: Be prepared spiritually.

  8. Considering how long Jews have survived…there must be some ingredient they have in the mix so to speak – the centre of spirituality is within the family setting. We tend to delegate the teaching of our kids to a sunday school teacher. Or in my case, I had to ask my parents to go for lessons on the Catechism before receiving Holy Communion. That’s where I began my journey.
    As for muslims the centre of spirituality is the family. And they are very effective at achieving a lively, vigorous unabashed spirituality. Having lived among them, I know this for a fact.

  9. Considering how long Jews have survived…there must be some ingredient they have in the mix so to speak – the centre of spirituality is within the family setting. We tend to delegate the teaching of our kids to a sunday school teacher. Or in my case, I had to ask my parents to go for lessons on the Catechism before receiving Holy Communion. That’s where I began my journey.
    As for muslims the centre of spirituality is the family. And they are very effective at achieving a lively, unabashed spirituality. Having lived among them, I know this for a fact.
    Would that we were half as vigorous as they are.

  10. Hi, Margareth. I agree that the current mainline system of sunday school structures need some reformation. I think the age- segregation ministry is the educational structure of secular humanism. While Jews and muslims worship together with their children and succeed transmitting their faith into next generation, why Christians keep losing their children with such a great resources and buildings and programs? Not only in Western churches, but also in so many great Korean churches and Chinese churches?

  11. Focusing on the family as an incubus for spirituality does eventually pay out. Our problem too was that we were focused on instant achievement, but the goodies that came from our prosperity side- tracked us a lot.
    Is there anything to do other than to strengthen what remains…using basics – modelled in the New Testament?
    It does not need massive resources – but enormous commitment after repenting for our complacency and starting afresh. Being twice forgiven may give us new strength to go on.
    It is not for nothing that our Master’s modus operandi is working behind the scenes…small but sure changes. He had no time for the Roman Empire. That is what we should be focused upon. As Nik Ripken said, following biblical principles run counter to our intuitions, but it does cause the changes that usher in G-d’s Kingdom if that is where our focus is centred on. We may have to fall back to small numbers, but knowing the G-d of Israel, nothing fazes him. All he needs are a committed few behind him.
    Let us encourage each other with words of hope from His word.

  12. I don’t know…

    I think that article might be
    mixing up a few things.
    Seems like it to me.

    Maybe check into Mark Nanos.

    I’d also like to point out, whatever
    was originally meant in Philippians,
    it’s pretty inappropriate now to refer to
    people as dogs. My messianic rabbi shared
    that there used to be signs in the Jersey/New York
    area, “no dogs or Jews” — and it was shared at the DNC
    that there used to be signs reading “no dogs and Mexicans.”

  13. @Margareth: Actually, passing on faith in Judaism something of a crisis these days with the exception of the Ultra Orthodox. Many Jews all over the world, including in Israel, are secular and consider being Jewish more cultural than religious. The same issues in the modern world that affect Christianity also affect religious Judaism.

    Having read the other comments, it seems this point was already made.

  14. James, I agree that there is a crisis – and it is not confined to any one particular group. It makes sense when you read about the Kings of Israel and Judah…you have a godly king having an ungodly son or vice versa. I don’t wonder anymore. Being part of a covenant people was not a guarantee of being godly as one grew up. It just meant one had the privilege and responsibility that came with belonging to a community with access to truth. What a person did with his life in the course of living within that community was a matter of which direction the person decided to take. Some grew in stature. Some didn’t.
    The same goes for church membership after baptism as kids or teens. People end up turning away in adulthood and there is nothing one can do but pray – because faith is not about coercion or manipulation. Or death threats for that matter.
    Some of us, have had encounters that led to a search and a constant learning and unlearning process. I do not have the same kind of childhood faith anymore – it is different (the Jesus I know about now has a more Jewish identity and context) with more certainty about the One in Whom I have placed my trust…and some space for some mystery, doubt and uncertainty that I can live with. There is more humility in realising that I am a Gentile longing for crumbs that fall off the Jewish banquet table as it were…finding precedent in people like Cornelius in the Bible.
    But wherever one encounters a community of faith – like up in the mountains, one feels right at home in worshipping the G-D who belongs to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the churches there.
    As He has walked with and preserved the Jewish people faithfully for all these years behind the scenes, despite everything they have faced – He is worthy of our trust.
    But now our faithfulness will be put to the test as the darkness looms. We are seeing it being played out before us in our times in various communities around the world. It is not easy for them.
    It won’t be a game of numbers any more, but will be one about core faithful remnants from among the nations.
    Back to you, James.

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