East of Eden

Today is World Vision's annual Day of Prayer. To mark the beginning of our new fiscal year, staff members all across the globe gather together to spend the day in prayer and fellowship.

For today's post, World Vision writer Kari Costanza reflects on the need for prayer around the world. Join us.

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And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. —Genesis 3: 22-23

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We live East of Eden. It is an imperfect place. A place where children are hungry. Where women grieve. Where men’s dreams die. And in Kenya, where cries for mercy are muffled by the sound of gunfire.

I have been watching Kenya’s 9/11 unfold on television, Facebook, and through emails from friends who live in Nairobi. My friends are reeling, their eyes opened as mine were on our terrible day in 2001. On that day, we realized that even safe places are unsafe.

Now, because of the attacks at Westgate Mall, Kenya knows this, too.

In Kenya, World Vision is working to restore Eden through projects in water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection, and health. Donors from the United States sponsor more than 41,000 girls and boys.

Kenya is one of my favorite countries, having made seven trips there to cover stories for World Vision. The people I’ve met in Kenya have changed my life. They are as beautiful as the landscape, where flamingos flock lakeside, encircling still, blue waters with rings of bright pink. When the sun streams through the clouds, the crimson soil of the Rift Valley practically glows with goodness.

In Kenya, I have listened to incredible stories, feasted my eyes on beautiful sites, and I have even stopped to shop. At Westgate Mall.

Two years ago, I was covering the story of drought in the Horn of Africa, preparing to go to Dadaab refugee camp on the Somali border. I had dinner with fellow staff members at Westgate Mall -- a delicious meal of Indian curry and hot, buttery naan. Afterward, we shopped. I bought two lovely blouses -- one red and one green with flecks of gold. It was a light moment in preparation for a frightening time. I knew I was going to a dangerous place. We’d have to hire security guards to be with us while we were in Dadaab.

But at the Westgate Mall that night, I felt no fear.

I am familiar with fear. I covered World Vision’s response in New York City shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. The theater district had reopened and there were tickets to be had, but I wouldn’t go inside. I was afraid to venture into crowds. I no longer trusted people or places.

How I felt after September 11 could only be vanquished through prayer. Prayer is restorative. It can banish fear, yield strength, and bring us back to God.

That is why today, to mark the beginning of our new fiscal year, World Vision staff will not spend the day planning programs and predicting progress. Instead, we’ll spend it praying. We know that we live East of Eden -- our new address a result of sin. In this new world, we must cover our nakedness, sometimes even in blouses from upscale malls in Nairobi. And we must pray.

At World Vision, our Day of Prayer gives us an opportunity to say that we are sorry that we wrecked creation. To thank God for loving us still. To pray for our colleagues in dangerous places around the world. And to beg for another chance to be redeemed.

Would you join us?

Please join our staff today in praying for our work, our colleagues, and the children, families, and communities we work with around the world.

Read more on the World Vision Blog about: Kenya Prayer

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