Like a Child: Naive

Many people have told me that I am naive. Usually it is an accusation. But allow me, for a moment, to self-defend.

What, really, is wrong with believing the best about people? What is wrong with being oblivious to the ill motives of others? My husband would say that it is too easy for me to get into a dangerous spot. Probably true. Others would say that I can easily be taken advantage of. That is probably true also.  But isn’t a stance of naiveté more child-like than one of constant suspicion?

David Yarnes writes in his new book, The Prosperity Matrix, “For me, self-defeating, cynical practices were so destructive that I began to recognize the value of building a counteracting approach to life. . . . I began practicing a way of life that I called “planned naiveté.” That is the freedom to have faith in other people regardless of past experiences. Planned naiveté means that you actively choose to believe the best of situations and people.”

Sure, this approach means that we could be taken advantage of. But it also means that we are open to people and opportunities that we could otherwise miss. Yarnes explains “Even when things go wrong, we can train ourselves to mentally reestablish a mindset of faith in other people. It’s important, because otherwise we are… too busy protecting ourselves to realize that we are missing out on life.”

A child does not have to plan how to be naive, he comes by it naturally. Maybe he has not (yet) been hurt by someone he trusted, or abused for someone else’s gain. Maybe he has not been polluted by the filth of this world. Maybe because he is (still) pure within, things outside of him are also deemed to be pure. Jesus did say something about that…. and also said that child-like faith is required for entering his Kingdom.

Think about it?

~ Diane

(Quotations are used with permission. Visit for your copy of “The Prosperity Matrix.”)

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Like a Child: Enthusiastic

As we entered the compound of DOVE Khungema on Sunday morning, children outside the church were jumping and shouting in response to the beat of praise music inside. It reminded me of the sheer enthusiasm of children.

This is one aspect of expressing faith in which the African excels. In the city of Nairobi, as in many western contexts, we have learned to be guarded. We carry ourselves with sophistication. But a worship service in rural Africa is usually a conglomeration of dancing, clapping, jumping, crying, ululation, sweating… all of it as an expression of worship to the Most High God. Nothing is reserved.

If there is anything in this world worth getting excited about, it is not a sports team, a political campaign, an academic prize or an athletic victory. No — it is Jesus and His love!

Another example: a child of around 4 years was seated several rows in front of me on a recent 15-hour flight from Doha to Chicago. Much of the time he was sleeping, but when awake, his mother was having a very hard time keeping him quiet. He was watching a children’s program and wearing earphones. Every few minutes he would burst out in song, obviously singing along with whatever he was watching. She kept saying, “Shh, be quiet,” or “Don’t make noise.” But despite the rebukes, his free spirit would break through over and over into jubilant melody. He was just genuinely enthused about his experience.

When the ark was being brought to Jerusalem, David danced before the Lord with “all his might.” Even though that landed him in problems with his wife, he defended himself by saying “I will celebrate before the Lord. And I will become even more dignified than this” (2 Sam 6:21-22). That sounds like enthusiasm to me!

From what I have seen of children, they do not hold back; they give full effort. So if we have to choose between zeal or protocol, I know for sure which of those options would be called ‘child-like.’

And Jesus said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Diane

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Like a Child: Totally Honest (+Garissa visit)

Yep, after a barrage of posts during the Bible Read-a-Thon, we seem to have gone silent. Catching our breath, or allowing you to catch yours, perhaps?

We will now return to several more posts on the “Like a Child” theme. Today’s is a bad example of what could be a ‘good’ child-like characteristic. That is, honesty. Brutal honesty.

Young children say things “straight”. They do not know how to cover up their true feelings. Granted, a child might lie about whether or not he ate all the cookies that were in the cookie jar in an effort to protect himself from punishment. But when it comes to more subtle matters of attitudes or opinions, a child is usually honest.

We saw very unfortunate evidence of this during our visit to Garissa last week. Christians living in that Muslim-dominated town report that little children are the most likely to bombard them with rude comments: “Muende kwenu. Hapa si kwenu” (Go home. This is not your home). Unfortunately, they also throw stones, and apparently girls are the most aggressive at that!

As bad as this is, it does tell us that children are not good at pretense. They obviously learn these attitudes from adults, but the adults try to cover up how they really feel and let children ‘speak’ for them instead.

God’s Word encourages us to “speak the truth in love.” At least children get the first part right! In a culture where people are highly likely to tell others just what they want to hear, even if it is a complete lie, that is an important admonition. A bit more child-likeness can help us all.

PART TWO: Garissa University Visit We also want to tell you about this visit. On 2 April this year, Garissa University was attacked by terrorists; the resulting massacre claimed the lives of 147 people.

No church leaders have visited the university since then, according to the reports we received. We felt it was an important step to take.

IMG-20150808-WA0043We started our tour by peering through the windows of the classroom where the Christian Union students were holding their 5 a.m. prayer meeting that fateful morning, as was their daily practice. This room was the first target of the gunmen. Broken windows, bullet holes on the walls and abandoned shoes tell the story. Twenty-three of the twenty-seven students in that room were killed; others feigned death so that the attackers would overlook them.

The university security officers showed us where the main sniper was positioned, and how the attackers lured students out of the dorms only to gun them down as they tried to escape. We went into rooms where students had been hiding, some who survived and others who did not. The imprint on the floor of a body, with a bullet hole at the position where the head was lying, was among the most disturbing images.

We learned that church leaders, the local community, Somali activists and Garissa University staff (pictured) staunchly agree on one thing: the university should re-open.IMG-20150808-WA0015

So finally, we prayed on site.We prayed that Garissa University will open again. We prayed that teachers, doctors and businessmen will not abandon this gateway, but will continue with — or return to — their lives and vocations in this dusty town. The terrorists want to instill fear. If we respond fearfully, we have already handed them their victory.

~ Diane

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Until Next Year?

Confession: I was hesitant to have another Bible Read-a-Thon in 2015. But those who participated last year really insisted that we needed to hold the event again.

“Okay,” I reasoned, “we can do it, but I will find other people to lead most of the days.” That, I did. We had an amazing core team, with 7 or so people who were there every single day. I was intending to be absent some of the days, or to carry other paperwork that I could do while sitting anonymously in the back ‘pew’….

HA! That did not happen! It seems that the Word of God is somehow addictive. It is like watching a movie — you don’t want to miss any part. Especially the Old Testament; it is a continuing story of a nation, or a family. If you miss something, you really ‘feel it.’ One time I had to rush out to the bank, but hurried back, thinking “I want to get back before David dies!’ (I was just in time). Another time it was the exile. “Have they gone into exile yet?” was my first question when I returned from running some errands. The answer was “not yet.” Whew!

Then the coming of Jesus, his amazing life, powerful teachings and history-changing resurrection. Oh, how I wish I could have been on the Emmaus Road when he traced his own divine heritage. What a lesson!

Reading chronologically through the Bible ‘at once’ really gives a fresh perspective. On one hand, it is much easier to see the continuity, or to trace certain threads from Genesis to Revelation. On the other hand, seeming inconsistencies or even contradictions are brought to light. One thing for sure, I now have more questions than answers! And that is good, because there is a deeper desire to study and seek. “Those who seek the Lord will find him when they seek him with all their heart.”

Finally, reading out loud. It must be so easy to gloss over certain things when reading silently. Why else, if I have read through the Bible probably 20 times, am I still finding completely ‘new’ things?

We are very thankful for the $550 raised so far through the Read-a-Thon. The door for giving is still open! You can use the “Donate” button on the home page of this blog, or send a donation via PayPal on the or websites. All donations will go to the mission work of DOVE Africa.

One thing is for sure, we WILL do it again. We have decided that, by God’s grace, this needs to be an annual event. So, ‘good-bye’ to the Read-a-Thon reports for now… until next year!

~ Diane

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Day 10-11: GRAFTED

We all know that when we are looking for a certain theme, we find it everywhere. The past two days, the themes of law vs. grace and Jews vs. Gentiles have been in my heart. And for sure — I found these everywhere in our reading. Let’s look briefly at the latter.

The issue of Gentiles coming to faith surfaced not only in the time of Jesus, but also plagued the early church. Most of the differences that arose among the disciples were due to this debate. Definitely Israel was the original ‘olive tree.’ Gentiles were not chosen from the beginning. We were “not a people!” We had “not received mercy!” (I Pet 2:4) But we were grafted in.

Jesus was a Jew. He even said in Matthew 15:24, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (but when the Canaanite woman pressured him, he ‘agreed’ to heal her daughter, and did).

Paul was also a Jew. A Pharisee, for that matter. He writes over and over again about the ‘mystery’ of the gospel that had been revealed to him. That mystery is stated as “Christ in you” (Col 1:27); maybe that is more like saying, “Christ has come to you, of all people!” Paul clarified in Ephesians 3:6 that the mystery was the fact that, through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members of one body, and sharers together in the promise” (covenant). Formerly, Gentiles were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenant of the promise, without hope and without God” (Eph 2:11). That is a pretty bad situation to be in!

We (unless you are of Jewish descent) were simply not part of the deal.

But WHY did the children of Israel — for the most part — fail to recognize their Savior? After all, Jesus was indeed “the promise that the 12 tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night” (Acts 26:7). They had all the history of walking with God. They were recipients of God’s covenant of love. They knew the prophecies and were waiting for their Messiah. But they rejected, even crucified. their Lord. Hmm.

Leaving that for you to ponder, I just want to say that we ended our reading powerfully, crying out with John the revelator, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Thank you for taking this journey through the Word with us!

~ Diane

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The Old Testament ends with a sense of great expectancy. The exiles have returned. The walls of Jerusalem  and temple have been rebuilt. The prophets, while still recounting the sins of Israel and the disgrace of her downfall, are now speaking of tremendous promises and of the glory yet to come.

The last Old Testament book in our reading schedule was Joel, and what a climax it is! “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (2:29). “The Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. . . . the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk” (3:16-17).

It struck me that our relationship with God, as reflected in the reports of the kings, judges and prophets, is more about seeking and inquiring of God than even of asking from him. Of course, there is a place for prayers of petition (especially seen from the temple or designated places of worship). But perhaps we emphasize the petition aspect more than we should. After all, when we ask according to God’s will, it will be done! But how do we know whether or not we are asking according to His will if we do not seek to know his will first? And seeking to know his will, will be of no value, unless and until we know how to hear his voice — unless and until we are sheep who know the Shepherd’s voice.

Entering into the New Testament, the birth, baptism, temptations and teachings of Jesus are deeply meaningful.  I am glad that Jesus teachings about the Law of Moses vis-a-vis God’s new covenant law are clearly explained in many passages. It is now so noticeable how much Jesus emphasizes that relationship, that of the old with the new.

It is very hard to believe that we have only two days of the Read-a-Thon remaining!

~ Diane

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Day 8: EXILE

Both the Northern and Southern kingdoms were taken into exile, and Jerusalem destroyed, in our reading today. But even in the desolation, they had a promised hope. “I am with you to save you. Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you. I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you, but with justice’ (Jer 30:11). This is repeated four times in Jeremiah alone.

Yes, promises of restoration are dotted throughout the prophetic writings. But the word “dotted” is used intentionally here. Ninety percent of the time, it seems (I did NOT calculate), the prophets warn of destruction and speak condemnation. In response, the Israelites can be so insolent. Imagine, they go to Jeremiah, imploring him to enquire of the Lord for them and promising to obey whatever God says, “whether favorable or unfavorable.” But then they blatantly refuse to obey. (Jer 42) What is that about?

Being a prophet was not a very attractive profession! Prophets were often hunted down, imprisoned, or sometimes even put to death. In Kenya, we have some kind of romantic idea about what it means to be a ‘prophetic voice’ to a nation. We imagine that a prophet is one who is honored or whose words are taken seriously. Really? That was certainly not the case for most of the Old Testament prophets. I noticed that the prophets who enjoyed favor with kings, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah for example, were those who served in the regimes of foreign rulers. Interesting. Most of those who brought a message to Israel’s kings were not ‘received well’ at all!

In interacting with God’s Word, I/we usually pick out the passages that are positive or promising, and ignore others. But when reading every single verse and every single page, it causes those positive parts to be even more precious – like a gem in the midst of rubble. I found the book of Hosea to be one of those beautiful jewels, strongly portraying the tender compassion God has for His children.

Finally, we notice that God’s dealings with us are highly dependent on our response to Him (Jer 18:3-10). How am I responding to God’s love?

~ Diane

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