Living in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased my understanding of some of the stories, common themes, and issues faced in the Bible. Here are a few things that I can now relate to:

  1. Washing feet. I now understand why the washing of feet was a common practice. Walking everywhere on dirt roads and dusty streets, my feet are filthy at the end of the day.

  2. The miracle of Moses safely floating down the Nile. The Nile is a wide river, with rapids and dangerous animals. It really was an act of God for baby Moses to float in a basket all the way down the river to the safety of Pharaoh’s daughter.

  3. Flies. In the 10 plagues, I don’t think I ever quite understood how annoying and dirty a plague of flies is. There are so many flies here, and escaping their irritating buzz and tickly feet is almost impossible.

  4. Women and water wells. Many Bible stories involve water wells and women carrying water. Obtaining water for a family is the woman’s job here. She may spend hours walking, waiting in line at the well, and carrying the water. Fetching water seems to become somewhat of a social event, as the same women use the same well day to day.

  5. Life in water. Throughout Scripture, there are many accounts of people searching for water or God providing water miraculously. Jesus even alluded to water by calling himself the living water. Along our journey, there have been a few times where clean water is very difficult to come by. Recently, we stayed in a place in Ethiopia where there was no running water and the only water we could get was muddy river water. Luckily, the water dilemma only lasted a short time. This experience really helped to enhance my passion for clean water being available for all people.

  6. Power in blood. I have never lived in a place where I would have experienced the slaughtering of an animal for food. Watching a goat being slaughtered or even a chicken being beheaded just for us to eat really caused me to realize the power in the blood of animal sacrifices in the Old Testament. I am so grateful that we do not have to make sacrifices for sins anymore, and that Jesus’ blood was the perfect atonement for sin.

  7. Communal living. In Acts, the early church is portrayed as a group of people who lived very communally. No one claimed anything to be his own; they shared everything. If someone had a need, those living in community with him banded together to provide. Living in Nasir, on a compound with nine other people, results in communal living. We have our own houses, but we share pretty much everything. I love it.

  8. Frankincense or sweet aroma incense. Offerings of incense were to be made to the LORD in the Old Testament. After the birth of Jesus, the wise men brought frankincense to Jesus. In this part of the world, incense and frankincense are burned regularly. Although I am not a huge fan of the smell, people here really like the sweet fragrance. It is a good reminder that our prayers are offered up as a sweet aroma to God.

  9. Livestock. Throughout the Bible, livestock is a main theme. It is used as payment, in parables, in measuring ones wealth, to communicate messages, etc. Before moving here, I understood that livestock was just part of the culture. After seeing disagreements over cattle, donkey carts hauling loads, the pride of the people in the number of cows they possess, or the intricate way they shape of the cows’ horns, my understanding of the impact of animals in the Bible has deepened.

  10. Living one day at a time. Jesus told us not to be anxious about the days to come. He told us not to worry about what we’ll eat or drink or do. So far, in my life this has never been more real until this past year. Many mornings I wake, not really knowing what I will do that day. I have to ask God to show me what he has for me that day. Fairly often, my days look nothing like I would have ever imagined myself. God always provides and is always faithful.