By Art Hobba

March 6, 2020

A couple of things happened in me this morning that triggered a closer look at the feelings of malaise I’ve been under these last 2 weeks. I’ve struggled of late to praise and thank God in all things—or in anything. The constant rains (SoCal), our involuntary huddling in our homes, and the imminent Covid 19 plague targeting my demographic, have me fighting a daily depression. Still, my fridge is stocked—2 cars filled with gas–TP in good supply, and my roof doesn’t leak!

Each Monday morning, I have the privilege to spend 90 minutes on the phone with our 3 key leaders in Bungoma, western Kenya. All are younger men than me, but their mature faith in adversity often makes mine feel juvenile in comparison. Much of the time was spent praying about, and then discussing, what our Troop of 75 trained men on the ground, and their families, should do now that the Kenyan government has done a shutdown [schools, gatherings, and government] like our US government did last week. The Kenyan’s reality is almost unimaginable to us, yet in reviewing their circumstances, it was just another problem to ass to a long list.

  1. Our WhatsApp phone call was dropped a few times, as usual, by heavy rains that block cell signals and wifi. One member of the team was flooded, and could not join us. 200 square foot houses made of mud, with dirt floors and palm-leaf roofs, don’t like heavy rains.
  2. We talked as friends about using some of this extra time we now have to strengthen our bonds with wives and children and grandchildren. Amen to that! Then I remembered that without TV—and many without electricity, they already spend a bunch of time together–far more than me.
  3. We prayed against the spirit of fear and superstition that had gripped Kenyans [many Americans too] that this sickness will become a killer plague because their government has so often failed to protect them from malaria, cholera, or yellow fever. With only 3 confirmed Covid 19 cases nationwide, they feared how unprepared, corrupt, and incompetent their national leaders are.
  4. Locusts! For the first time in 70 years, swarming clouds of locusts 5” long have swept through their nation, starting in the East, and now these devourers have traversed the nation to the West. Today they were only 10 miles away headed for their farms. Their young crops and their only access to food in late Spring, are on the verge of being decimated.
  5. Hunger– Being between harvests, and just finishing paying for expensive seed for their smallholder farms, and costly school fees, books, and supplies for all of their children, the population is extremely low on money to buy food. They know the devastation of famine by experience, and parents are very afraid they won’t have enough. There are no unemployment pay-outs in Kenya.

As we prayed, we felt God’s Spirit lift our hearts! The outcome was that these men decided to take the offense and rally our whole Troop. Using texting, they will mobilize our 75 Kenyan Warrior-Pastors, and get them to send out messages of hope to their contacts like Heralds of Heaven—encouraging 1,000’s of PBL churches and their own local communities—and blanch the malaise and paralysis of fear and superstition. They would bring the Good News that God is their Immanuel—IN OUR MIDST–not the government. And He knows of the “locusts” that threaten us in both our jobs, farms, and the garden of our souls, yet He will keep His people safe if we trust in him alone. They will also proclaim a season of fasting and prayer [see 2 Chronicles 7:1-15], and stand together, expecting for God to “heal their land.”

When we were done, we exchanged goodbyes and I looked out my office window to watch the California winter rains fall—realizing what it means to have first world problems. I felt like such a lightweight with our modern, heated, and cozy home, with our beloved dog, Kobe, sleeping by the fireplace.

The reality is that the battles we face are customized to our environment, background, and circumstance. Paul teaches us that for us to compare ourselves with others—even with resolute Kenyans—is foolish. Our issues are real for each of us. But it does not mean they are true—or more important or urgent, than others. Nor does the fully human heart allow us to do nothing but self-feed and self-protect. We are made of more noble fiber than that.

Amid our enculturated, multigenerational American mandate for comfort at all times, it is healthy to defocus from self, and invest some of our time to pray for and serve others outside our comfort zone—especially when that zone feels uncomfortable. This is how we grow, and to not grow is to begin dying.

A few of you may want to give to help the needs of our leaders and their families in Bungoma. My wife Sharon and I do that every month. However, my lesson was, that after giving myself to stand and pray with my brothers in far worse circumstances and great discomfort, I felt my heart lighten.

Maybe it will help you too. And generosities’ practice makes whole the fearful heart.

So Others May Live,

Art Hobba

President Core 300