Saturday, January 26, 2008

Nolen in Kenya

Stephanie Nolen is a national treasure. She is an award-winning writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper who has covered Africa for several years. That is a broad statement and some would suggest an impossible task because Africa is a huge and diverse and complex continent. Somehow she flourishes in this assignment. She has written about HIV and AIDS with both compassion and urgency. I have listened to her in interviews and been surprised by what an up-beat, jocular person she can be given the pain she has witnessed.

Today in the Globe there is an extensive and gripping article on her travels in Kenya. As she has moved around this formerly stable nation she has seen the outcome of violence and destruction which has come in the wake of the national election. At times she has been in the midst of dangerous situations which have caused her great fear, yet she courageously continues her reporting.
I was struck by her references to the church and church agencies as places of refuge. A Cistercian monastery becomes a sanctuary for hundreds of frightened people. She sleeps overnight in a makeshift shelter established by nuns. These are Christians who are bravely putting themselves in harm's way for the sake of others.

I have pointed out before how challenging it can be for us to stay informed and prayerful about places in our world where others suffer. We are given snapshots of situations rather than portraits and the media tend to move on to the next crisis.

Thank God for reporters such as Nolen and for compassionate people of faith in these places.

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