Saturday, November 28, 2009

Africa's Sex Appeal

“Africa is not that Sexy,” read the article headline in the latest Relevant Magazine issue newly arrived in far off Mmametlhake, South Africa. Yes, it’s true. Africa is not that sexy.

The African cause. No matter how many dollars are poured into aid and development. No matter how many celebrities stand up in support of their favorite charity. No matter how many politicians visit the remotest parts. Africa is not that sexy.

I thought it was when I moved here. The sex appeal and the romanticism of living in the African village. The simplicity of it. Working with your hands. Teaching and serving. Making a difference and making life long friends.

But simply put, it’s just not that sexy.

The pit latrine. The insects the size of my fist. The passive aggressiveness so prevalent in South African culture. The corruption and nepotism that runs rampant and seemingly unchecked. The stereotypes one African culture has about another, leading to xenophobia and racism. The unemployment rates. The widespread alcoholism. The violence. The crime. The poverty. The hungry. The sick. The dying. None of it sexy.

But when was it supposed to be sexy. When was giving a cup of water or a loaf or bread ever supposed to be sexy? When was caring for the widow or the orphan ever supposed to be sexy? When was loving others as yourself ever supposed to be sexy? Was acting out the gospel message ever supposed to be sexy?

I don’t think that it was. People didn’t believe in Jesus because of his sex appeal. They believed because of the simple complexity of grace and the fullness of love. And the people he lived among and served weren’t sexy. But they carried in them a need for the love of God and his mercy.

No, when you look at it, Africa has no real sex appeal. At least what I have seen of it. But it has a lot of people who have a lot to give and a lot to receive.

Life is not easy here. Simpler maybe, but not easy. It’s not romantic. It’s not ideal or even that fun a lot of the time. But it’s a place where Jesus is. It’s a place where God is moving and working. And where God’s people move and work. It may not be sexy. But I do believe that it holds the quiet beauty of a place being shaped and formed by the hands of God.

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