Tag Archives: Circumcision

A Great Day

Sunday was one of those days to write about. It was one of those days where at the end you sit down and think, “this is why I am here!”

It started by waking up early to put the final touches on my sermon. Preparation was easy, as I was asked to adapt my teaching from youth camp earlier in the week to address the whole church. I was also asked to consider that it is the Christmas season.

The theme for youth camp was “Truth Quest.” Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ—the coming of the Messiah. In these thoughts, my sermon was on the truth about the coming of Jesus. We simplify the coming of Christ to salvation, but Jesus came to do more than just to save us.

He came to redeem the world, to bring heaven to earth. When Jesus sent his disciples out, he didn’t say, “go and preached that salvation is at hand.” He said, “proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7, 3:2, 4:17, 10:23….). At the fall of man, everything fell, all of creation, and Jesus came not just to save mankind, but to restore the universe to its original perfect state where God was Lord of everything.

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So I preached the English service and then Abby and I rushed to Timau for the graduation of the Passage to Manhood Camp where I was the guest speaker. This was one of the first big events that I spoke at when we arrived in Kenya last year (look up the old blog from January if interested in knowing more, https://a2africa.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/passage-to-manhood-2/). In short, this is when boys are circumcised, but there is richness of culture and this is a critical period of teaching boys what it means to be a man as they go from being watoto (children) to vijana (youth).

Out of 144 youth, 116 accepted Jesus as their savior for the first time! I was told incredible stories of healing and truth as the boys learned what it means to be a true, godly man. Also, 8 responded to salvation at the graduation.

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All the boys

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Me speaking with Moses translating

After the graduation ceremony, we were invited to a friend’s home for more celebration. We went up to one of the farming communities at the base of Mount Kenya. It was absolutely gorgeous! In some ways the ceremony reminded me of a kind of formal high school graduation party, and Minor, the boy who finished his circumcision, was happy to receive gifts, especially cash.

After taking food, a must for a Kenyan gathering, we made our way home with some friends. Learning how to interact in a new culture can be just as exhausting as learning a new language, so we arrived at home satisfied by a wonderful day and ready to veg out and relax.

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Minor standing in front of has gift collection bag

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Family photo 🙂

The day still had one more treat in store. Our toilet has been flushing poorly the past week or so. At first I thought it was a small amount of TP that would dissolve with time. Now, it had stopped draining almost completely when flushed, and the pressure that would buildup was breaking the seal between the toilet and exit pipe causing a leak.

With plans to leave for Tanzania early the next morning, I had to do something. I sought the help of Simon, the groundskeeper/general handy man. He suspected that the pipes outside to the septic tank were clogged. Sure enough, we spent the next hour flushing all the waste out of the pipes. With the toilet flushing like new, it was finally time to take the load off and relax at the end a great day.


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Passage to Manhood

When does a boy become a man? This question is played out in every males life, but it has new meaning through my time spent in Africa. To many tribes the answer is around age 13, when they are circumcised.

To most Americans the idea of a boy being circumcised at 13 years old sounds crazy and even cruel, but it is a day that many boys look forward to; it is a time of deep tradition and celebration.

The proceedings can vary by tribe. For the Maasai, the boys begin with a period where they parade through the village. Circumcision marks the time where they become a Morani (warrior). During the circumcision, the boy can show no sign of pain. If his face cringes, he may be viewed as weak for the rest of his life. For the Ndorobo man doing the circumcision, his goal is not to make the procedure as quick and painless as possible… He has a reputation to keep as well.

Other tribes follow different proceedings but one thing seems to be universal, it takes about 3 weeks to a month for the boys to recover and during that time the boys are taught by the community elders what it means to be a man. Another aspect that seems to be generally universal is that the teaching is not very biblical.

Often times the boys are taught that they do not have to respect women. Being a “man” means they can do what they want and they are in charge of their own lives. Understandably this can lead to a lot of problems. In modern society, it is common for circumcision to take place when a boy graduates 8th grade. In high school, many female teachers have a difficult time because some of the boys believe they no longer have to listen to any woman.

Imagine what it would be like to have teenage boys going around thinking they are in charge (I know it sometimes seems like boys in the U.S. act this way too). It leads to a lot of problems, but churches are coming up with a unique way to utilize this transition period for the Kingdom.

Many from the church outside African culture have wanted to eliminate the tradition of circumcising boys so late in life all together. They see the ritual as pagan, which it often is, but some African pastors have embraced the culture and now use it for the good. Churches are starting to host “passage to manhood” ceremonies, where the church hosts the transitioning boys, providing a clean safe environment for procedure and then using the three week downtime to teach what the Bible says about being a man.

The boys do not leave thinking they are independent men. They leave knowing that the power of a man is not gained through strength and dominance, but that it is in respect earned through respecting others. Their graduation day marks the beginning of their passage into manhood as they desire to be godly men, following the humble example of our Jesus Christ.

I was able to visit the passage to manhood camp at Timau Baptist Church. They hosted over 120 boys this year. They had so many that they had to knock down a wall and extend the room just to fit all the boys! 102 of the boys professed Christ as their savior for the first time during the camp!!! This is not a service just for the church members, but for the community, and it grows each year.

I was able to speak at the camp on two occasions. One Sunday I visited the boys and encouraged them from 1 Timothy 1:5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” I taught them that being a man means serving God and others in love from pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, just as Paul charged the young Timothy.

The second time I spoke was as the guest speaker for the graduation. It was an honor and a privilege. I spoke to the boys from the end of Ecclesiastes where King Solomon encourages young men to enjoy the fullness of life, but to always remember that they must answer to God for their actions. Solomon says to remember God before your youthfulness and strength start to fade.

Then, I was able to challenge around 500 parents and relatives from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which talks of the responsibility of parents to teach their children about God. At the end I shared about Jesus Christ and gave an invitation for salvation finishing with Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

View Graduation Ceremony


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