so many voices

I teach English to a couple employees at Treasures of Africa and one of them has been my student and friend for over two years now. Arnold is always listening to his radio and I’ve noticed that he has actually become one of my main sources of news for what’s going on in the world. For whatever reason, I think its quite easy for us here in Moshi to just get caught up in our own little bubble and ministry and not have much idea what’s going on in the world.

Therefore, I’ve been trying lately to go beyond my rural-living Masai friend for news and have found myself poking around Christian news on websites like www.conversantlife.com and www.thegospelcoalition.org as well as national and international news on sites like CNN and BBC. Its all very interesting and I want to be as best informed as possible, especially as we near our return to the states.

As I’ve been perusing news articles, blogs and the like, I’m getting a bit blown away by the way that the internet has totally transformed the way that people interact. I realize that I sound like an eighty year old that just found out about Facebook (and probably started an account), but its really mind-boggling and a bit dizzying at times. Ten years ago this wasn’t happening.

Everybody has a Facebook, everybody has a blog, everybody has an opinion and everybody has an opinion about somebody else’s opinion. Furthermore, most people want a larger platform in which they can share their opinion. Its hard not to get sideswiped in the constant barrage of what everybody else thinks out in cyber-land.

Have you ever read YouTube comments?

My friend Lauren who lives out here had a video made about her project of a girl’s home made up of former prostitutes out here in Tanzania. Sounds all positive right? Well it is. I’ve been to the home, I’ve met the girls and let me tell you that God is doing something good there. Well, this video that the filmmaker made won some award and was hence showcased on the front page of YouTube. My friend and her organization that are doing something wonderful got ripped up by a grip load different anonymous individuals who just spewed nothing but vile from their keyboards. Its terrible.

It can be terribly disheartening.

And here I am trying to have a blog to talk about who knows what and I’m just wondering my place in all of it. I want to believe that there’s something special and unique about my blog, my opinion, my public cyber persona, but I start to realize that I’m just a distant face in a large crowd of people writing about who knows what.

I started writing because I liked it and wanted to share stories. Over time that evolved into me writing because I wanted other people to like my writing and agree with my opinions. That kind of killed it for me and I didn’t know how to right the ship. If people had ripped me like they had my friend, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

I think in light of the way that internet culture has impacted the culture at large, its important at times to really step back and evaluate our lives. I remember the first time, I fasted Facebook. I was the overly religious idiot that only considered fasting food to be real fasting. Yet, I was noticing the grip that Facebook had on my thought life. So I took a week off and came to this realization that that profile is not me. At best it is a minute representation of who I am, but it is most certainly not me. Its sounds like a stupid epiphany, but for me it was quite profound and something that I have to remind myself of at times. My Facebook is not me, my blog is not me, and my opinions are what I hold not who I am.

I am a human being with a wife, a dog, twenty-six wonderful kids I help look after and another very special child on the way. How I speak to them really matters. Being a man of integrity and character to them and other people that I meet, really matters.

How I love God by loving other people is all that matters.

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Author: Brandon Stiver

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, living and working in Moshi, Tanzania. My wife is named Melissa and we have three children: Moses, Promise and Shepherd. We are directors over an orphan care ministry called Kingdom Families; advocating for the needs of orphans and vulnerable children and assisting families to welcome them into their homes as sons and daughters.

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