karate kids and a future hope

There's a narrow stretch of winding road that cuts through Golf Sud, the neighborhood between our home and our church. Driving toward the northern shore I cut my way across the deep sand dunes that swell above the hidden paved road beneath. Along this road buses and taxis bob and weave shuttling the urban dwellers around the city. Shacks and high-rise concrete apartments alternate along the thin passageway. At the end of this road are a long row of ladies sitting behind ramshackle tables laid high with every kind of fresh fish. And at its start is a little welded cage no wider than a phone booth packed with sheep pressed against each other. This street is never empty. Men, women and children walk, ride, live on this street.

For me this street is the perfect image of urban Africa. Making my way down this road all the senses are constantly engaged. The smell of fresh bread at a corner bakery. The feel of sand shifting beneath your feet. The sound of people calling to one another. The taste of the ocean’s salt in the air.

This road never ceases to impress me with its life and vibrancy, but the other day it gave me the most powerful image of a city's potential to bring the worlds colliding into each other. Looking into the courtyard of a small mosque I saw a gathering of boys learning martial arts. The sight of these karate kids, these miniature West African Ralph Macchios, show the power cities have to bring distant worlds together. African cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. Men, women and children are leaving their villages with hearts filled with expectation and hope for the promise of the city.

As my American eyes drank deeply of these Africans in a Middle Eastern house learning an Eastern art I asked myself, "How are we using the confluential power of the city to expose people to the gospel?" Men, women and children are converging on Dakar and cities across Africa in search of hope and future. As much as we face opposition for our faith, we find ourselves in a city desperate for hope, searching for a future.

As the city grows so our efforts in planting the church must grow. Led by the Holy Spirit we must plant new churches among the existing neighborhoods, like Golf Sud, like Citie Alioune Sow, like Guédiawaye. Led by the Holy Spirit we must anticipate where the city is growing and place our feet squarely on the land. We must plant the church in the days, months and years to come on these streets that are never empty; these streets where men, women and children walk, ride and live.