“But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.” Daniel 1:8, NLT
Daniel was among the young men of Judah’s leading families who were exiled to Babylon after King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. Daniel and others were chosen to be trained in the language and customs of their captors. This was a golden opportunity to escape their indignity of living as slaves and refugees. But the privilege and training they were offered required them to give up a part of their ethnic identity and moral purity.
Although he was a young man, Daniel understood the implications and resolved not to eat food that would have defiled him. God honoured Daniel by causing the Babylonian official to deal favourably with him and his three friends when they suggested a test.
Tribal wars, political and religious clashes, terrorism, and poverty cause many of us to live as refugees, both within and outside of our continent. Many young people seek to escape a life of poverty by becoming economic migrants in foreign lands.
The reason why many of us are refugees or in unfamiliar situations may be different from the reason Daniel was in Exile. And many of us living in other cultures may be considered second-class citizens instead of privileged officials, the way Daniel and his friends were. Nevertheless, we face the same pressures to abandon our culture and faith that Daniel and his friends faced.
It is sad that in their quest for a better life, many believers in Africa are forgoing their Christian and cultural identity and allowing themselves to be contaminated with the evil of the world around them. Daniel offered Nebuchadnezzar’s chief of staff a plan to test God’s power. Let us dare to be a Daniel and hold to God’s values and plan for us wherever we are.