Posted in Cultural things, English

Where does racism start? – My own story

George Floyd’s brutal death has been a very obvious case of Racism and I am so glad that the world is uniting to take a stand against it and injustices of various magnitudes. But I wonder, if the world actually understands what Racism is, where it starts from and what it has caused us.

From my own experience of being married for 7 years to my black African husband, I have realised that there is a lot of premonitions on people’s minds regarding Race without them even knowing it.

Let me start with myself. In 2011, I was attending a Discipleship Training School (DTS) where I met Emmanuel, my husband. He was one of the co-Leaders of the school and in the beginning, I just respected him as my leader, we had a normal staff-student interaction. But when we went for the outreach phase of the program in different groups to different countries, it happened that he was the one to lead the group that I was in; Locations were France, Spain and Portugal. We started from Paris, the capital of France, a big city where we had to use the Metro alot. Though the Metro system in Paris can be quite confusing, I did expected that Emmanuel, being our leader should know how to get us from A to B. That’s what you expect from your leader, to know everything right?

One afternoon while we all stayed back at our hostel, Emmanuel went out alone and for a very long time he did not come back and we started to worry if all was well. At the end of the day he made it back safely, but told us that he got lost with the metro, and decided to take off the metro and walk instead, which took him definitely longer to trace his way back. With this incident, I started thinking “what kind of leader is that, who even can’t navigate the metro“. I gradually started to undermine him and soon enough we started having misunderstandings. With time, my heart was full with a lot of anger towards him, I didn’t like that and so I prayed to God, asking Him to please let me see him, how He sees him, let me have an understanding for him. On the next day, I felt I should seek a conversation with Emmanuel and I told him the things that offended me about him. We ended up talking for more than 3 hours, so that we almost missed the special Christmas dinner with our host family.

From that day on, something in my heart changed and our relationship got alot better, in fact we became very good friends, and even more, I fell in love with him. This ‘falling in love‘ brought a lot of confusion for me in the beginning, I was so surprised that I had feelings for him all of a sudden even when he was not necessarily my ideal type. I never really imagined dating a black man. I had a taste, yes, for these latin-american type of man, but not black? I found myself in an inner battle; in one hand I liked his character a lot and I could see a soul-mate in him, and on the other hand there were so many doubts, fears and prejudices regarding his nationality. I had little thoughts like Africans smell, they are poor – so he wouldn’t be able to provide, and then there were the cultural differences etc. I remembered as a young girl innocently asking my father what he would think, when I would marry an African later on as a grown up, he responded that this wouldn’t be a good idea because of the big cultural differences.

While getting to know Emmanuel more and more, I noticed that I had some prejudices against Africans that I was never really aware of. I was someone who really loved the nations and who always was curious about different cultures, I would not have thought I had so much junk in my head. I am so glad that I became aware of these prejudices so that I could start early to confront them.

To mention briefly, I got to understand that a great leader isn’t neccessarily one who can do all by herself or himself but, rather one who can mobilize and disciple others well, discovering and championing their gifts for the benefit of the group. That is exactly what Emmanuel did for us his students which, I got to deeply appreciate later on. And we eventually never got lost in our outreach. We had a native French amongst us and I was the Spanish/Portugese interpreter since I have been to both countries. And so as a Team combining our different strengths and experience, we did amazingly well.

Furthermore, I felt so priviledged that I could get to know and still getting to know this beautiful culture of my husband. In the meantime, I met so many lovely, intelligent, funny, talented and inspiring Africans, and I could even visit Nigeria twice, once for three months leading to our marriage and the second time for three weeks as a couple on missions. There are so many riches in this country Nigeria that I have also seen in many other African people. Indeed, that there is corruption and criminality, but believe me, people there suffer enough from their own system, most of them are victims of a very bad government. Innocent people like you and me.

The difference is “just” since they come from a so called “Third World“ nation we easily treat them like that – as Third class. As if they are not educated enough and we need to teach the illiterates. When they come to our western world we can easily accept them as refugees or low class workers, because they are coming from this poor, dirty and uneducated continent, right? Truth is, what the media portraits is not the full picture. Africa cannot be portrayed just for that. Just as much as Germany cannot be seen as descendance of Hitler having only strict laws, cold-hearted, but hard working people. There is always much more to explore. And yes, Germans may carry from their cultural values more honesty in general while Nigerians should be known for perseverance and positivity mentality just to mention a few. This does not make all Germans honest people or all Nigerians happy and strong. No! That is why, you can never reduce or generalise cultural values on individuals. 

I think most of Western people can be compassionate when it comes to helping the poor needy people in Africa. Which is great, but when it comes to giving an African a position or showing him/her respect based on their competency, I think a lot of people still struggle. Blacks have to be 300% better to be accepted for a position that their white counterpart only requires the normal 100%.

I hope and I pray, that through the awareness of these extreme unjust racial death cases God will change hearts. May there be no more death, may justice and righteousness grow in our heads, and in our hearts. May God transform us and help us to embrace every human being equally with their differences for God is a God of variety and there is so much we can learn from each other. Variety is the spice of life and before God we all have the same value.

Posted in Cultural things, English, Family, spiritual topics

Thanksgiving/ Erntedank

#Grapes from our balkony – #a big harvest – #good and healthy juice and gelee

In Germany we are celebrating „Thanksgiving“ today. So I feel inspired to write and share with you some impressions. If we would directly translate the German Word for „Thanksgiving“, „Erntedank“ into English, it would be „Harvestthanks“ or „thanking for the harvest“. In early days in Germany, most people were farmers and lived from their own harvest. The „Harvestthanks“ literally meant thanking God for all the harvested produce. Nowadays, since very few are farming, and most of us not, what is our “Harvestthanks”?

I’m today reflecting on all the things God has blessed me with.

I’m so grateful for the gift of  life.

When I look at my two wonderful daughters, I’m so amazed at how God has created them, how healthy, perfectly formed, no missing body parts… When I think about the way I look at my kids and marvel at them, I am reminded on how God our heavenly Father, the creator of our flesh and bones is looking at us and celebrating His perfect Work of creation.

Then I can really meditate on that scripture in Zephaniah 3:17 „the Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.“

How often are we discontent with ourselves? How often do we rather feel stuck with our human flaws than see the many little things that are actually good? God who created us, rejoices over us His creation. He knows the real value of what he has created.

My little daughters have no idea yet how precious they are to me, and they might never realise why I can simply look at them and rejoice over their lives (even with their excesses). I think that this is how it is with our own lives. We have no idea how much value we actually have before GOD, the Almighty, the Sovereign, and ever Faithful.

The same with the things that God has blessed us with. Do we really know and see the value of it? How often do we compare ourselves with others in terms of what they have and we don’t? Let’s look at our own lives today and take stock of what we actually have?

Maybe the working place comes with a lot of stress and imperfections, but it has helped to pay the bills last year?

Maybe the apartment you are living in is not the dream house you have in mind, but you have an address to retire to with a roof over your head; a protection from all kinds of weather.

Maybe you have problems or conflicts in your family but atleast you have people around you that you can share life with and who form you?

Maybe you don’t swim in money but atleast you have s.th. to eat, drink and to dress everyday.

I think a lot of times we tend to evaluate our lives too critically and as a result miss out on the precious moments making up our daily activities. So why not take today and think about the things that you can be grateful for, reflect on those things that you have planted this year where you can already see some progress or even a full harvest?

And please remember it’s not about perfection!

Especially not in the way we see and evaluate perfection. It can really help to see things in God’s eyes. God, the only one who is perfect.

„For with you (God) is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.“ Psalm 36:9

Posted in Cultural things, English

Nigerians

I’m deeply shocked about the horrible news about Nigerians all over the world and especially right now in South-Africa. How can IT be that a whole people Group is persecuted just because of some bad people of the country? Isn’t it that every country has good and bad people? Why are Nigerians mostly known for the bad, the crimes and we don’t hear so much of the good they do and produce? I wish there is a day to come when Nigerians will be known for who they really are. I pray, that the inheritance that Nigeria has will come out for good. When I came to Nigeria the first time in 2012 for three months, God spoke to me: “See these great people that I have created, see the inheritance I have given to them, see the great gifts and talents I put in them. Unfortunately they are not known for this in the world. There is a cloud right now above this country that covers the good deeds. But I want them to shine and go into all the nations and be known for who they really are: the arts, music, dance, rhytm, academics, Stage performance.”

Emmanuel and me
Nigeria

Through my Nigerian husband I’ve gotten to know many amazing Nigerians. First of all with my husband I could have not found a better match. He is such a wise man with all time a good advice, encouraging word and He is so helpful. I really like his personality and I can learn so much from him. He is Not a Matcho as many people think in general about african men. He likes to do the dishes, cooks well and helps me in the household. He didn’t mind to stay at home to take care of the kids when I was working full-time and He did such a great job even with their dressing and their hair. He always wants the best for me and encourages me to go out to grow in my calling. I have met through my husband also other nigerian men who respect women and help in the kitchen, household and the kids when they come for visit as I have not seen it from any other people group. My husband even sets an example for his football colleagues when he goes for football camps and washes his boots and clothes, puts the things in order, airs the shoes and clothes at the right spot that the rooms wouldn’t smell and cooks delicous meals for everybody. Besides that I’ve met a lot of Nigerians who are one of the best in their academics and bring a special flavor into the group because they think outside of the box. So, as you can see there are a lot of positive things I can mention about Nigerians. And it pains me to see when Nigerians are not entrusted and even persecuted because of some people who do bad things. Some might even not be Nigerians but use the nationality to hide their own. So please stop persecuting Nigerians, stop your prejudices against any people group on this planet. And I want to encourage all Nigerians to take heart and press into till it gets better. Let’s pray for Nigeria and all Nigerians who suffer right now persecution or who have lost one of their loved ones.

Posted in Cultural things, English

Black People bring colour!!!

Listen to this version of the song ‘Good Father’ by Chris Tomlin

This video inspired me to write about ‘why I love black people’!

The first thing that comes to my mind, which basically summarises everything:

Life WITHOUT BLACK people is LESS COLOURFUL!

I believe the Lord created the black man on a very good day, probably on a Sunday, when He had a lot of time. Just because of the fact that HE placed so much creativity and talent in these beautiful human beings. Besides, isn’t it that the very first human beings: Adam and Eve, were black!? So, we all actually carry the DNA.

When five years ago for the first time I set foot on this beautiful continent, ‘AFRICA’, more specifically ‘NIGERIA’, the very thing that just hit me and stuck out the most was: BLACK PEOPLE ARE TALENTED – Let me even say, for me, they are the most talented people in the world when it comes to MUSIC, DANCE and anything with rhythm. Somehow, we all know that. But when I watched these young people performing at a concert in Nigeria, I felt like the LORD was releasing a cry in my heart and saying: “see! that’s how I created them to be, powerful, dynamic, most talented ARTISTS. But that’s not what they are known for in the world. They are rather known for bad things like corruption, criminality, drugs, laziness and prostitution. But I want them to go back to their calling and shine all over the world!!!”

Believe me, BLACK PEOPLE, that is not even all! You are not just simply entertainers!!! You are called to RULE the world! When people accept or appreciate you, then they like you at least for your entertainment. But unfortunately, my experience in Germany so far has been that you are likely not to be given the top positions as leaders. And I’ve been wondering WHY? Because being married to a great and talented nigerian man of God, and also getting to know other great Africans in Europe, I’ve noticed that you’re not treated equally. This act is something so hidden that most white people are ignorant of. Little will they realize that this is discrimination. I have wondered if this is because of the root of slavery? or is it because of Fear? or is it that the media paints the wrong picture? or because black people still carry their own slave mentality and don’t take their stand. There might be different reasons that I hope to, from the revelation of the LORD with time, be able to address in the proper way to help us cast out every stronghold concerning this topic.

What I want to say is, that I also see that our community would be ways more richer (in wisdom, integrity, morality, “holy” success, …) if we would embrace, trust and give the platform to our black brothers and sisters. The LORD put consciously specific qualities in every nation that in the TOGETHER we would be made perfect. There is so much to learn from every nation and there is no one who has it all. At the same time, I could write a whole page on the qualities that the LORD put in Germans. But I think that is something for another day.

So, what are the qualities of black people besides arts?

It is the FAITH that they have in God. It is their fighting spirit. Their prayer mentality. Their heart of worship. Their positive mentality. Their positive thinking: believing that everything is possible through HIM. Their TRUST in God. Their dependency on HIM. Their ability to DREAM and not just think realistically in their own abilities rather, their believe in our ALMIGHTY GOD. Their easiness and how they take their time. In their perseverance and ability to wait on GOD! Their knowledge of the WORD of GOD and how they really believe and practice it. Getting their values and discernments from the word of God and NOT from the world. Perhaps, why they’ve got lots of WISDOM! Practicing leadership and discipleship as it is taught in the bible. Intelligence and smartness that can compete all over the world. Black people can be educated even when they might not have the same high standard tools to teach in their university. But interesting enough, if they have the possibility to study in our western universities, they can easily adjust and compete very well. Black people are not illiterates as many people think!!! And they are also not just poor people!!!

I feel so privileged to be called Mrs. Agbike. I thank God that the LORD put me in a cross-cultural marriage with a mirror that challenges me, that forms me and brings me in a better shape, that helps me to identify cultures and see how they differ from the kingdom culture.

There is no better or worse culture. There are just DIFFERENT CULTURES that GOD created for a reason!!! So let’s treat each other like that, as equals. Simply, people of God made to glorify HIM with the things that HE has put in us! We can learn from each other, We can live with each other without superiority or inferiority mentality!