Monday, December 31, 2007

I WISH You A Happy New Year

The phrase, “Happy New Year,” is a wish rather than a statement of fact. New Year’s celebration is primarily a middle-upper class event as, for the poor, it’s just another day of labor working for their daily bread. The homeless in Delhi will huddle around makeshift fires as they watch the elite class drive to their parties; the farmer will go to his field knowing only that yesterday was Monday and, though the calendar page has changed, it’s really just Tuesday.

Those who mourn the death of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, will have little to celebrate this night. Last week they could anticipate a happy new year with the hope of a victorious election, now, even if their party make political gains they have lost their leader, the one who they trusted would bring them into a brighter future.

I received a note from one of my former students in the state of Orissa this morning. She tells the story of the Christmas Eve attacks in her area where six churches were burned, two pastors killed and countless other Christians brutalized by Hindu fundamentalists. The new year for them will be the on-going struggle against persecution.

My beloved Kenya will begin their new year with demonstrations and avoiding the riots throughout the country because of a presidential election that many feel was rigged. My friends in the country write to ask for prayer as many of them live in volatile areas where often the innocent are caught in the crossfire. In times like these I think of the Kenyan proverb, “When elephants fight, the grass gets hurt,” and pray for the safety of the harmless.

Of course I look forward to a new year and even the events of New Year’s Day. Like millions of my countrymen I will watch the football games and enjoy being with family. It is a part of my culture to celebrate marking the end of the old and hoping for the new. For my family and me, ’07 was indeed a good year. We all have good health, have a roof over our heads and have no foreseeable reason not to look to ’08 with great expectation. I thank God for His blessings and protection over the past 365 days and pray that He will do it again for the days and months ahead.

To my faithful colleagues around the world, I am not glib when I say to you, Happy New Year. I’m praying and hoping that you will have a blessed new year as well. As servants of Christ, we indeed have hope that transcends circumstances. May He protect you and encourage you and may you know that you are not forgotten in your service for Him.

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