Red: The Sacrifice, Sweat and Resilience of Kenya

Series: Mkenya Halisi

Scripture: Esther 4:1-17

Who is your Kenyan Hero or heroine, alive or dead?

The founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate the late Professor Wangari Maathai is a notable name in the history of this Nation.

Maathai sought to end the devastation of Kenya’s forests and lands caused by development and remedy the negative impact that this development had on the country’s environment. In 1977, she launched the Green Belt Movement to reforest her beloved country while helping the nation’s women. &Women needed income and they needed resources because theirs were being depleted,& Maathai explained to People magazine. &So we decided to solve both problems together.&

Proving to be very successful, the movement is responsible for the planting of more than 30 million trees in Kenya and providing roughly 30,000 women with new skills and opportunities. Maathai also challenged the government on its development plans and its handling of the country’s land. An outspoken critic of dictator Daniel arap Moi, she was beaten and arrested numerous times. One of her most famous actions was in 1989. Maathai and her organization staged a protest in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park to prevent the construction of a skyscraper. Her campaign drew international attention, and the project was eventually dropped. The place in the park where she demonstrated became known as &Freedom Corner.&

The following year, Maathai was beaten and badly injured at another protest in &Freedom Corner.& She was calling for the release of political prisoners. What had started out as an environmental movement quickly became a political effort as well. &Nobody would have bothered me if all I did was to encourage women to plant trees,& she later said, according to The Economist. But I started seeing the linkages between the problems that we were dealing with and the root causes of environmental degradation. And one of those root causes was misgovernance.&

Here are some of her notable quotes that depict her passion for trees.

In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.

I don’t really know why I care so much. I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem, and I have got to do something about it. I think that is what I would call the God in me.

We continue to introduce our series for this Term: Mkenya Halisi and through this month we are preaching through the colours of our National Flag, Last week we looked Black for the People. Today we look at Red: The Sacrifice, Sweat and Diligence of Kenya

(Mother’s day tribute- Address to women

These women standing here are a true representation of the Spirit driving our mothers in Africa and in Kenya. Like Wangari Maathai- You represent the sacrifice, the sweat and the diligence that has nurtured this country this far.

For the countless times, you pour yourselves for this nation, for the selfless care you have raised many, for the sacrifices you have made, for the church, for the nation and for our homes, we thank you. Today on this mother’s day, as a church we honor you and all our mothers and pray God’s blessing of His LIFE to preserve you, to refresh you and to grant you the fruit of your labor. We are proud of you. Happy mother’s day.

So in honor of our mothers and women, we draw our lessons for today from the Story of an equally notable woman in the Bible who was at the heart of the Nation’s destiny- Queen Esther.

Read Esther 4:1-17

To put this passage in context, here is a brief overview of what’s going on

From a humble Jewish back ground, raised by his older devout cousin, Mordecai, who adopted her, Esther rises to become queen of Persia after replacing the defiant queen Vashti and finding favor before the most powerful king in the world at their time- King Xerxes of Persia. Having kept her Jewish background a secret under the instructions of her foster father Mordecai, Esther rises in favor of the King and the Kings nobles. She even had a public holiday in her honor.

King Xerxes appoints Haman a powerful prime minister, who rises up as an enemy of the Jews when provoked by Mordecai the Jew, refusing to bow before him. With a wounded ego, Haman through the permission and authority of the King Issues a Decree that All the Jews in the land should be killed on a certain day. Haman sealed the decree with the signet ring, making it official and it could not be changed, this was very similar to the genocide of the Jews that Hitler Planned for in World War 2. This decree to wipe out this breed, the Jews was to be carried out in about a years’ time. We pick it up when Mordecai reaches out to Esther to intervene on this threat to annihilate her own people.   

Today My Thesis is taken from that Song we just sang: The People who know their God, will be strong and do mighty exploits

These two heroines, Professor Wangari Maathai and Queen Esther stand out in their Nation’s history, best captured in their willingness to die to a cause far greater than themselves. As we said last week, Mkenya Halisi is a Patriot- Patriots are those who believe that their land is a gift from God, worth defending to death.

In Professor Maathai’s words

It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.

Today my question to us “whose Hero or heroine are you? In the efforts of building this Nation, How do we demonstrate our passion for our Nation as believers, What are the small things that you do outside of yourself that redeem, build and give this Nation the Hope we draw from our faith in God.

What are Heroines made off, what are Patriots made off? What are we as believers made off that God wants to use as a gift to this Nation?

Allow me to draw out these lessons from the qualities of Esther at this important time in the Nation. Again our thesis: the people who know their God, will be strong and do mighty exploit.

Like Esther, Patriots are those who acknowledge their Power is in their God given Position. That famous verse: 13-17

For such a time as this? Probably captures the essence of this point. Your power to influence is not too far from your position in the society. Esther knew that this was her God given opportunity to make a mark and she took the challenge head on.

In Professor Mathai’s words: In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.

Despite her imperfect background, God had raised her up and brought her to a significant position to influence the mighty King Xerxes of Persia in a unique way that others would not.

When God puts us in various positions of responsibility, he wants to use that position not just to advance ourselves, but his people and His kingdom.

This is the power that drives Patriots. Esther was reminded that she did not become queen to escape the difficulties of civilian life but that her life will also be affected if she did nothing.

Our selfishness has costed us our ‘such a time as this’ opportunities, Have we taken stock of God’s blessing, our position in society, our position in the office, in the community- There lies our ‘such a time as this moments’

When was the last time you did something beyond yourself? How have you used your position to do something beyond yourself? Your treasure, your talent or your time- There lies your power to make a difference.

But sometimes, it’s not because we are selfish, but we look at our background or histories and our fears come in and we fall in that lie that we have nothing to offer or the last time we did we suffered.

As they say, bad things happen, because good people refuse to do nothing about it. It may be because of being passive in our positions as believers that evil men triumph with their agendas and plans. What’s your Such a time as this Moment?

Like Esther, Patriots are those who engage with a whole heart, a passion for what they do? Again in her famous words “If I die, I must die”

In Professor Maathais words-

Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.

It will take courage on our part as believers to live out our faith in this Nation. Just like our patriotism is fortified by the bloodshed of our heroes and heroines, Our Christian faith which is of greater value, has been built, tried and tested not merely because of the prosperity of Christians, but because of the martyrs in history who stood for the Gospel and godliness in difficult times.

Someone said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that what needs to be done is more important that to stay in fear’

We draw our courage as believers in this Nation from the Commission of Joshua- “Be strong and Courageous for you are the one I have chosen to lead this Nation, from the great commission- I will be with you.

As believers we must represent the cause of Christ in this Nation with Courage. Evil prospers in the land, because they do it with passion- Consider the Atheists who came on TV the other day- How to raise your children without God?

If we die, we die…this is must be our position in this Country as believers, I might lose my job, my status, my resources…even my life, but this is how we show we are not under the values of this world but the Kingdom of God.

Like Esther, Patriots are those who engage with a Plan.

Read 5:1-7

A plan is an intentional path to do something. Hers was a plan carefully thought through and executed. She asked for prayers and fasting from her community to act on it. She did not just enjoin in the sadness of the situation and the pity party, she knew it was upon her to do something.

Could it be possible that perhaps the Dreams of Kenya, the Hopes of this Nation are buried in Churches, in believers who talk too much but do nothing about it. In the plans unexecuted. The solutions to our problems lie in those dreams we have done nothing about? What would it take to begin a plan…write down something? Have you ever done a plan for an agenda for the community, the nation? Who do you need to meet, who do you need to ask to pray while you do something about it?

Queen Esther was wise and careful. By arranging for the King and Haman to be at her banquet, she laid the ground work to Report Haman’s murderous plan to the King. A Congolese proverbs says

“A little subtleness is better than force;  What are those little things you can do about it?

Remember the People who know their God will be strong and do mighty exploits

Whats your Power? – What’s your ‘such a time as this’ moment?

Whats your Passion? – What’s your If Must die, I must die moment?

Whats your plan? – What’s your humble beginning?

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