Monday, October 24, 2016

Two Simple Words: "Receive Jesus"

Last Monday, I left for Kenya.  I arrived in Kitale on Wednesday morning, had ten minutes to "settle in" and then we took off for a long day of meetings in Kakamega, returning to Kitale twelve hours later.  Needless to say, I was exhausted.

Thankfully, Thursday was a national holiday in Kenya and so I had the day to rest, unpack, iron my clothes, do my grocery shopping, and some cooking to carry me through the next week of teaching and meetings.  I was to start teaching Business as Mission for the BA Theology class at Africa Theological Seminary on Friday.

Mid-morning, I left the seminary campus to get my groceries.  I flagged down a "boda-boda" (motorcycle taxi) and jumped on the back.  Despite having been on the road and in meetings yesterday seeing a great deal of Kenya, I took a deep breath of fresh air and sighed happily.  This is what I love when being back in Africa - having all my senses wake up with the sights and sounds of a society who lives so much outside:  people walking, talking, and laughing, cooking and cleaning, hustling here and there, cows, goats, sheep on the road, little shops everywhere.  The boda-boda zipped through town, dodging people, cars, animals, and other boda-bodas.  As we came close to the junction of the grocery store, there was heavy traffic and we were stopped for a few minutes.  Cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians were pressing in on all sides.  Instinctively, I tightened my arm against my chest to protect my purse from being grabbed.  Then a man, maybe in his 50s, thin and looking a little disheveled, crossed between the bike I was on and the car behind me.  He caught my eye as he came closer.  And as he passed, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Receive Jesus" and kept walking.

I smiled and relaxed.  My first thought was, "Thanks, but I have."  Traffic began to move again and as I felt the wind in my face, those words continued to wash over me again and again.  Such simple words.  No agenda behind them as we were in traffic.  He wasn't trying to present the four spiritual laws to me.  Simply a hand on my shoulder, "Receive Jesus" and moved on.

And it made me think all day.  Thoughts like... 
  • ...Why don't I ever say things like that?  I'd be afraid they are already Christian and I'd be insulting them.  I'd be afraid it would be seen as a platitude of a "muzungu" (white person) who wants to be the "missionary savior..."
  • ...Wishing that ministry could be that easy.  Two simple words.  Not the long challenge of empowerment and personal ownership, of transformation that takes a great amount of time... 
  • ...Where did he learn to come up with those two words and how long has he been saying them?  Rather provocative words, they immediately make one think.  They are an invitation, not a command. If all you have it two seconds with someone, those are two great words... 
  • ...Reflecting back to my flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi, where I was sitting next to two men (one from Toronto and one from Sweden) who wanted to talk the whole way.  In the past I would have assumed that these men were coming for humanitarian reasons and probably were associated with a missions group (they both were with groups seated elsewhere on the plane).  It didn't take long to understand they were both going to Kenya for safaris and, given my recent blog on unreached people groups, it was pretty safe to think that they might not have "received Jesus."  When they asked me what I was doing in Kenya, I spoke with boldness but didn't say "Receive Jesus..."
  • ...Wondering if that man said that to all people, or when he caught my eye, whether he saw something in me specifically.  I wondered about his own life, his story, his own journey with Jesus...
You can see how my mind was going.  But what a delightful thing - two words and I'm left in a world of thoughts for the day.

Please continue to pray for the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders in Kenya as we seek to reach more people for Jesus, equip them to achieve the purpose for which God made them, and send them out to be a blessing to others, causing more people to "receive Jesus."

I leave you with a picture of me and DML Kenya Co-Director, Rev. Elly Kisala.  My dear husband, Michael, complained that it has been many, many months since I have put a picture of me on this blog, so here it is!