Sunday, October 24, 2010
Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary
I originally wrote and tried to post this blog on Friday before I left Kisumu. The hotel Steve and I stayed at lost its Internet connection (long story), so I am posting it today (Sunday). I've just safely arrived home after being on airplanes or in airports for the last 36 hours. I missed two flights coming home but that will be the source of my final post about my trip to Africa tomorrow.
I am all alone. At least I feel that way. Perhaps it is because everything seems so strange and somewhat surreal. I am literally on the opposite side of the globe from home. Behind me is a bed draped in a mosquito net to protect me from Malaria. I’ve never slept under a mosquito net before. I’m not sure I like it. Outside of my window, I can hear the sounds of motorbikes and people walking up and down the street. Yesterday some cows or bulls were walking toward me, so I left my group and crossed the street. This is all very different from what I am used to. I’m used to my six children laughing too loudly or fighting too much. The sounds here sound strange to me and add to my feelings of being homesick. But I’m actually not really alone. I am sharing the room with a godly Christian—he is downstairs in a meeting. He is a great guy, with a great ministry, ITEM, and he is doing a great work. He conducts pastor’s leadership conferences all over Africa. But he’s not Naomi, and I miss her. This is the longest time I have ever been away from her. I feel like a part of me is missing. However, this is my last night, but I’m not looking forward to it, though, because I already know what will happen. Although I am exhausted, I probably won’t be able to sleep because of my rock hard pillow. And at some point tonight, just when I start falling asleep, one of the hotel guests will start praying to Allah at top of his lungs. I feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually completely spent. To be honest, I didn’t want to come, but here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Kisumu, Kenya as reluctant missionary.
But what does the Scripture say, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship,” 1 Cor 9:16-17. The privilege of preaching to my brothers in Kisumu as a reluctant preacher has humbled me by God’s grace. He used another Jonah to share the great gift of the treasure-truth of the Word of Life.
HUMBLED BY GOD'S GRACE
Over the years God has used the spiritual hunger of the LABTS students to keep me from believing the lie that no one cares about truth anymore. No matter how tired or scattered I may be, I look forward to sharing the truth with them because I know they will savor every word. Now imagine teaching pastors who have never attended a Bible class, sat in a seminar, or owned a single commentary or Bible dictionary. Imagine them hearing the truth that they love explained clearly to them for the first time in their ministry. I am moved to tears thinking about the privilege that God entrusted to this reluctant missionary this week. Dr. Van Horn and I served nearly 80 men by being the first to explain to them what they called “the deep things of God.”
I loved everything about being with these leaders. I loved their singing. I loved that they came from miles and miles to hear the Word of God. I loved that they sat for 6 hrs a day on the edge of their seats taking in every word from the Bible that Dr. Van Horn and I taught to them. I loved their questions. I loved their candor and transparency. I loved the fact that they are my brothers and sisters, and God could use a saved reluctant sinner like me to share with them the Word of Life that sets sinners free.
One of the men said that they came back to the seminar from a previous year because of the truth that Dr. Van Horn brought to them. He said and this time Dr. Van Horn has brought another man teaching the same truth. Because their land has been filled with lies from our American prosperity teachers and because many of them cannot afford the simplest Bible books, there is a famine in their land. So they cherished the opportunity to take in both the milk and meat of God’s Word, and they were inspired with the hope that perhaps America has more teachers of truth that might come to them.
THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL; WORKERS ARE NEEDED
After the conference, I was completely caught off guard when the leaders of Kisumu Baptist Bible College invited Dr. Van Horn and me to a meeting. They made a sincere plea. They asked us if we would try to find more teachers who would help them train their pastors. Imagine that. The way God moved this week has made me sure of one thing—that I am unworthy for such an honor. But if the Lord wills, I will not be a reluctant preacher again.
Tomorrow, I will make a 21-hour flight back to Los Angeles stopping in Nairobi, Amsterdam, and Detroit along the way, but a deep part of my heart will stay with my brothers in Kisumu. To Pastors Tom Ogala, Dennis Odhiambo, Apollo Oluoch, Peter Nyawade, Sampson, Joseph Agwanda, Jonathan Abongo, and to the rest of my brothers and sisters, I say asante for allowing me to have the honor of serving with you as your fellow-laborer and soldier for the Gospel of Christ. With tears of joy, I thank God for the laborers that He has raised up in Kisumu and the precious work that they are sacrificing to sustain. May God grant you, my brothers, the desires of your heart and may He develop a partnership that will glorify the Name of Jesus by allowing us to bear much fruit together.