A Prayer for Africa by Trevor Huddleston
God bless Africa
Guard her children,
Guide her rulers,
And give her peace for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
I found this simple prayer in my African Prayer Book in the darkness of a long flight somewhere over West Africa. We had just taken off for the second leg of our flight from Dakar, Senegal. As we flew over the part of Africa that had been in the news due to the Ebola virus, I couldn’t help but be in prayer. We were flying to Zimbabwe via Johannesburg, South Africa for a cross cultural experience with the Bishop’s Leadership Academy in mid March. I had never been to Africa before. I didn’t want to mask my experience by having too many expectations, so I traveled with a simple agenda, to experience Africa and God.
We arrived in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, late at night. I quickly noticed the darkness in the midst of a large capital city. There were few street lights, many potholes and little traffic. We arrived at the hotel with much fatigue ready to find some rest. The next morning we traveled to Mutare, which is home to Africa University. On the drive south, the view through the bus windows was remarkable. The natural surroundings that included acacia trees and mountains are beautiful.
Africa University is a special place. It is a higher education institution sponsored by the United Methodist Church. As we walked around campus, we noticed many plaques dedicated to the work of many United Methodist Conferences around the world. It’s easy to be proud of the work of our denomination as you witness the growth of the university in just a few years.
We talked with students and faculty of AU. I wrote in my travel journal that “the people were so kind.” It was true. The students always greeted us and were willing to talk. I had joked that it was very different than places like Purdue.
One of the students I met was from Uganda. She had two children back home, but went away to study and make a better future for her family. She was sacrificing so much, yet there was a joy within her. This sums up our experience with the students and faculty of Africa University. The students are from 26 nations around the continent, yet they find the true spirit of “ubuntu”, which Archbishop Desmond Tutu defines as “we are all one.”
The moment we landed in Harare, nearly 8,500 miles from home, we were greeted by a student from Africa University. She immediately said, “Welcome home.” I was sort of confused, as I was awfully far from home. She explained that this was our home too, because of our connection as brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s no longer a just a place on a map on another continent, instead, it is my “home”. It’s where our brothers and sisters in Christ pray, worship, learn, and grow. I am thankful for the experience to travel to Africa University and for the privilege of having a new “home” in Africa.
(I’m sharing these reflections on Africa since this Sunday (Aug 23rd) is a celebration of my church’s mission trip to Zimbabwe in June. It has given me another opportunity to reflect and give thanks for an amazing journey to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia that was a few months prior to my church’s mission trip.)