Hating Americans

In 2012, I went with a small team to Kenya for three weeks. We spent time in some local churches, teaching pastors, teachers, and students. I loved my time with these brothers and sisters in Christ. They seemed unburdened by possessions, friendly and open and humble. When I returned home, however, I wasn’t encouraged by their faith, I was busy hating Americans.

I saw that America (or what I saw of America) wasn’t full of poverty, so I assumed that Americans were greedy and materialistic. I saw that many Americans, saved or not, were “worse than” the limited view of Kenyan believers that I had, so I assumed that Americans were all evil people, especially compared to Kenyans. I took a little information and made American into “hell” and anywhere else into paradise. I lived in my world of hate for months until God slowly began working on my heart.

First, I began to actually look at Americans. I read the book The Kingdom of Heaven is Not About Eating or Drinking, a true story of a family who moved from America to Kenya live as missionaries. They weren’t living as greedy, horrible people; they were living as godly, humble people. I met people in my church who were living on mission in America, and not just living for themselves. I began to see that Americans are not all self-centered. By the grace of God, Americans can be sanctified, just like Kenyans can.

Then I began to think, maybe Kenyans can sin, just like Americans can. The Kenyan idol was crumbling. I realized that people sin regardless of geography. I sought to love American sinners more, but I still hung on to my anger at American Christians. How dare they claim to love Jesus and live in such wealth, I thought, while Kenyans live in poverty? I knew that this wasn’t godly, true thinking, but my hatred needed an object.

Finally, the hate began to die. I heard this message all at once from several lectures and sermons, from friends and mentors, and from the Bible: “You cannot serve the Lord if you hate His Church.” I realized that my sinful attitude was taking people that God called valuable, and calling them evil. I was not being grateful for Kenya believers, I was jealous of where they were born. Over the past year and a half, I began to stop hating Americans, and instead started loving them as God’s creatures. I am not perfect at this, but I am learning more and more that “he who loves his brother abides in the light,” and that this includes my American brothers. And hate is exhausting.

Dear Dad,

Dear Dad,

You are friendly. When I see you talk to strangers, you ask them about their days, about their families, about their work. You remember them later. I remember in a grocery store once, when you pointed out someone you met once in a drive-through, told me her name, and told me about your conversation with her. This made me think more about the people I meet in passing.

You are fun. Some of my favorite memories are being silly in thAnne and Dade car with you, and telling jokes with you. I tend to be grouchy and sad a lot, but you help me enjoy life.

You are willing to help people. You’ve explained many math problems, fixed so many things of mine, helped me with French, and taught me how to ride a bike. You don’t just help me. You’ve installed computer software for friends, worked in the church nursery, and too many other things too list in a short blog post.

Dad, you have inspired me with how much you love people. You care about them, and it shows when you talk to them, and in how you treat them. I want to be like that, not because it makes people like you (they usually do), but because it shows how God cares about them. People should matter to us because they matter to God, and you helped show me that. Thanks!

With exceeding joy,

Anne Mary