Director of Development Matt Brock recently visited Africa with International Director Bob Sartoris. This was Matt’s first trip to Africa. He visited Nairobi, Eldoret, and Pokot, Kenya and Mbale, Uganda. Matt will share his trip reflections in a four-part blog series. The first blogs were Getting Where We Need to Go and The Gathering Place. Watch for the next article is coming soon (Dressed for Success).
Matt Brock, GNPI Director of Development
I’m not a fancy food guy. I’ll take a burger and fries over the latest culinary creation any day of the week. In fact, I’d classify myself as a “rut” eater. When I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. Don’t get me wrong, when I have the opportunity to try something new, I usually will. There’s just something reassuring about knowing what you’re going to get when you take that first bite.
If you’ve ever left the shores of the United States, or if you’ve ever left your local community, you know food is done differently away from home. The look, the smell, the texture, the taste, they’re all subject to change. Sometimes the change is good. Sometimes it’s very, very bad. When I went to Africa, rather than shy away from things I wasn’t used to eating, I fully committed to trying the very different foods.
At first, I didn’t think they were different enough. As we started our trip, I had Chinese, Thai, even some Lebanese, but I didn’t feel that these were enough of a deviation from my norm. I wanted something completely different, something my taste buds had never before known!
My traveling companion, who was much more experienced in this part of the world, urged me to be patient, knowing I would experience authentic African cuisine soon enough. When the opportunity did come, it would turn out to be one that I won’t soon forget. The memory won’t only last because of what I ate, but because of why I ate it.
I had just finished preaching at a church in a rural Pokot community. We were invited by the church leaders to enjoy lunch with them. Finally, I thought to myself, a chance to have some down-home Pokot cooking.
I can’t say that I’ve ever had goat. It was definitely unlike anything I had ever eaten before.
It was new, not so much because of the taste (kind of like a dark turkey meat), but because of the preparation. Apparently, our new friends had not been exposed to Future Farmers of America, or some other organization, where the different cuts of meat were explained and the best ways to prepare them were described. Instead, their culinary style was more of a “hack and pack” method. There were no recognizable cuts. There was an abundance of bones, cartilage, and even goat hair in the food.
Despite this, I could not be anything but extremely humbled by the meal. In a place where crops don’t grow well and food is often difficult to come by, a great sacrifice was made to provide the food set before us.
Now, I’m no angel (just ask my wife), but it reminded me of this passage of Scripture found in Hebrews:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Perhaps our new friends knew we weren’t angels, but I was certainly a stranger. They brought out their best for me. They treated me as if I were special. They made me feel welcome and comfortable.
I hope the Message I delivered to the church that day was great nourishment from God’s Word. Yet, these kind people fed me the living Word by living out the encouragement of Scripture to treat people who cross our paths with the highest esteem. What great food for the soul!