The extended family, the neighbors, and everyone else within earshot smiled and walked over.
Our friend, James, and his brothers grabbed the rooster and a butcher knife. One of them slit the throat. The proverbial chicken with its head cut off ran around for a minute before receiving the second insult of being hung from a tree to drain. A fire was kindled, water boiled, feathers plucked, guts gutted.
One teen stripped and whittled a stick, handing it off to be run through the headless carcass. The family’s two remaining chickens stood nearby, wondering how long they had until they were gutted and roasted for guests.
Our kids, Phoebe and Zeke (then six and four), stood on and watched. They’d seen the ritual before, as most of their years had been spent in South Africa, where our Zulu friends made the most of meat. Life here in Kenya was similar, but things were always a bit different. Their little minds teased out what was the same.
The constant was the hospitality.
Asking a Different Question
While visiting Kenya, living in South Africa, or before that during our years in Nicaragua and China, we were frequently welcomed into people’s homes, even people we didn’t know. The last egg was fried, special meat was purchased, a precious animal was slaughtered, and a day’s wages were spent on Coca-Cola for their guests.
We North Americans have a lot to learn from our more communal brothers and sisters overseas. Since returning to the U.S. two-and-a-half years ago, Chrissy and I have wrestled with our home culture and how to live as faithful followers of Jesus here (more on that in our new book and on our blog). One area in which we and our fellow gringos typically come up short is hospitality.
People don’t stop by. “I don’t want to intrude.” Everyone’s busy. “It’s been too long.” Our houses (and perhaps our lives) are a mess. “We should get together.” We do a terrible job of accepting hospitality. Maybe we North Americans need something from folks in hard places.
Maybe the question for us should be, Who’s table are you at?
Urbana 12 and ACT:S are challenging you to share an intentional meal with someone who lives differently than you, to learn what you have in common and what you can learn from each other. On Wednesdays in November and December, we’ll be posting stories from InterVarsity staff and alumni about intentional meals they’ve shared with others—and all the good that comes from it.