A smart American preacher once said to our pastor that Africa was a bottomless pit when it came to charity. I wrote this as a presentation for our church when we returned from Kenya in 2007. A blog I started brought it to mind…
I stood at the top of the hill, looking down at the swathe of people crowding up the red-brown mud. The queue came from beyond our sight, and curled up past us into the makeshift canopy where they registered for the free medicine. I understood the meaning of the passage I had read so often, where Jesus saw the multitude and had compassion on them. But my compassion was minuscule in comparison, and overwhelmed by a sense of confusion and apprehension. Just how was I going to minister to these people? I was sure that others in our group, if not all, felt the same.
It was then that I knew, more than I had for a long time, that I was desperately in need of my Lord. I could not face this alone. A simple prayer was whispered from my lips, “Lord, use me.” I had an expectation before leaving Northern Ireland that I would be used in some way, but I should have known by then that His ways are not usually what we expect. In the midst of the melee, I met Oscar, a young man from the church keen on reaching as many of those around us as possible. His enthusiasm and desire warmed my heart as he took me by the hand. I know from missiology lectures at Bible College that in this part of Africa, men can walk holding hands quite easily, so I tried not to be perturbed. He took me, and others from our group that he could find, one by one, out to the crowds, and said, “speak, share your faith, I will interpret,” and flung us into it with gusto.
After Ivy spoke, one girl told Oscar she wished to come to the Lord. Ivy had noticed how Oscar found her Ballyclare accent difficult to understand, so felt it better for me to do the leading. I should have been dumbstruck at the suddenness of this moment, but here was a young girl seeking salvation. I opened my mouth, and said the ‘sinner’s prayer’, Oscar interpreted into Swahili, and she repeated his words. I never foresaw that that moment on a dirty track in the slums of Nyeri would be where God would use me, especially as I had not led anyone to Christ in 17 years. Praise his wonderful ways.
As we worked that day, and saw more and more people come forward for food and medicine, I said to one of my brother workers that it felt like we were only putting a drop in the ocean of poverty and need. Hopelessness was still trying to drown us. It was Friday, but on Sunday a thought came to me:
If every believer, every child of God who is called by Him, were to put a drop in the ocean, would the tide not rise?
Grace be with you.