Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I don't care about the dark

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In my work as the Student Services Coordinator at Helicopter Adventures I have the pleasure of spending a day with each of the new students. My days are predictable, set up bank accounts, tour HAI, finish TSA requirements and move into apartments. The people change, but the routine not so much. At least most of the time that is. Every now and again I have a day like today - unpredictable, out of order and down right entertaining.

To start with I had six new students to meet with. Usually I have 2 or 3. 5 is rare, but 6? Over the past 8 months there has only been one other instance where I had 6 students all in one day. This is problematic for many reasons, the most frustrating of which is that my work vehicle, a Titan pick-up truck, accommodates a maximum of 5 students. So I either have to find a second driver or arrange for the Military Training Programs bus. Today I had the bus.

The six new students break the mould right away, all are officers with the Nigerian Air Force and all are pursuing the same training. I am excited to meet them. I enjoyed the time I spent last week with their superiors and I always look forward to meeting Africans. To see the surprise and joy in their faces when they learn I have been to Africa, but also because it leaves me with little glimpses into the future. One in which I hope to be living and raising my family in an African nation.

All is going well with my six new students when somehow, while waiting at the bank, the topic of polygamy is raised. Several of the men’s fathers have more than one wife. One man had 15 siblings, his family is made up of 8 boys and 8 girls, of which he is the third youngest. Another man has an uncle who, in his words, “Maintains 4 wives. When one dies he marries another.” Which leaves me wondering how many wives he has lost and why he is still alive and they are dead? Ahmed pipes up and asks, “So if I want to come and work in America, can I get a visa for all my wives?” I explain that he would only be allowed to legally bring one wife with him. “Ok,” he replies “Then I will claim the others are my children, because they are younger than my first wife.” When I tell him that it will not be easy to explain to the authorities why he is sleeping with his daughter he smiles and says “Ahhh. But we would not tell them.” The others laugh and agree that they too would employ this strategy if applying for a visa to the US. My only response was to smile and chuckle under my breath.

I remember this, how quickly I had forgotten! The telling is not the hardest part of the gospel. Explaining Jesus is easy, especially in a society where being polite means letting foreigners talk about their God. But how do I explain why a man should only take one wife? And what if these men became Christians? Do they abandon their other wives? What about the children? And in the light of salvation and eternity just how important is polygamy?

I am reminded of a lesson learned from watching sky. The sun does not care about the dark. It is not bothered by the type of dark, or where the darkness lies. It does not ask permission of the dark before it rises every morning and neither does the sun worry about offending the dark. It is simply the sun, rising and falling every morning and evening, bringing warmth and light to an otherwise cold and gloomy world.

This brings me to the book of Ephesians in chapter 5 verses 8 through 10. It reads, “For your were once darkness, but now you are the light of the Lord. Live as children of the light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth, and find out what pleases the Lord.

So I try not to get caught up with the particulars of darkness. They are complicated and governed by human wisdom. I must instead pick my way through life seeking goodness, righteousness and truth. And always remembering to find out what pleases the Lord.


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