A short walk around the corner and down the road from where Gary Cymbaluk lives with his family in Nairobi is a five-star hotel called Safari Park. This luxurious place can best be described as a diamond in the rough. Gary says, “You would never imagine a shangri-la such as this being located in proximity to our neighbourhood. The main drag in our neighbourhood is Lumumba Drive. The area around Lumumba Drive possesses a unique character; it is nowhere near as polished as Safari Park. The reality is that Lumumba Drive is a piece of coal that could use some serious pressure. To be sure, we live in a rough and tumble part of Nairobi.”
The Cymbaluk family, serving with International Teams Canada, moved from Canada to Kenya in January 2011 to partner with Pan Africa Christian University. Gary shares that they now consider themselves “insiders” and no longer feel threatened by their neighbourhood, which many people from outside of the area consider quite scary. “We have actually come to love the quirkiness of it. The half-finished buildings, the two dozen speed bumps on the pot-holed gravel road, the clusters of vendors along the sewer ditch all give it a feel like nowhere else. When outsiders see it (particularly Westerners), they imagine the worst. They suppose, as they drive in their cars, that we feel intimidated as we walk down the street. We don’t. We feel very much at home in our neighbourhood.”
Some have wondered if Gary and Marina irresponsibly endanger themselves and their children by living in this neighbourhood, since they stand out like sore thumbs as one of only half a dozen “muzungus” (white people) in the whole place. Gary agrees that there is a potential for violence and the threat of assault, but they have come to recognize that there are two kinds of evil at play in the area. “Although it isn’t as recognizable, there are as many, if not more, pervasive and penetrating evils to be found in the rich suburbs as there are in our area of the city. We can easily see the visible forms of danger around us. But, it is much harder to detect the less obvious kinds of evil. How do you teach your children to avoid the evil of individualism and me-first?”
The Cymbaluks know that no matter what neighbourhood they live in, God calls believers to find their security in Him, through Jesus Christ. For many more stories about living, working, and trusting Jesus in Nairobi, visit www.cymbaluk.com. To learn more about PAC, visit http://www.pacuniversity.ac.ke .