Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:8
I’ve just returned from northern Kenya and a Marriage and Ministry conference that we were asked to conduct for pastors and their wives. Having worked with this group of believers in the past, I looked forward to renewing acquaintances.
Sure enough, Moses was there. I first met him years ago just as he was coming in from an evangelistic outreach. I had heard about the persecution coming from animists and other religious groups. To my astonishment, Moses and his friends were laughing and actually rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to be shot at and to suffer for Jesus, just as the early Church rejoiced in their hardships. This trip, I asked Moses if he’d ever had the bullets removed from his leg. With a big smile, he said they were too close to some nerves to risk removal.
And then I met Matthew, one of the praise musicians who comes from another African country. As a security officer, he was ordered to shoot peaceful protesters and refused. Government officers shot Matthew in the head, and he was taken to the hospital. He lost sight in one eye but was on the way to recovery when he was warned that some men were en route to the hospital to finish him off. Meanwhile, the military went to Matthew’s house and killed his wife. Matthew escaped and took three of his children with him to Kenya. Since coming to Kenya, two of Matthew’s children have been kidnapped by his country’s government, but Matthew continues to praise and trust God.
My friend Toch, director of the ministry, has been stoned and ambushed numbers of times—three times the pistol placed to his head didn’t fire. Toch lives to talk about Jesus and to witness to his saving grace. He and his band of merry disciples work throughout the north of Kenya bringing hope where there is despair and demonstrating Christ’s love and life through their words and deeds.
I see the Church as Christ meant it to be when I am with these Christian brothers and sisters—joyous and counting each day precious. They understand the Kingdom of God and life in the Kingdom. I watch members of warring tribes embrace and support one another when they share the same Father. I follow these disciples into slum areas to share food and Bible stories with prostitutes as they walk together bringing new life.
I stand humbly listening to their stories and cannot help comparing them with my own privileged, secure, comfortable life. And I am overwhelmed that they find something in me that they ask me to share with them. You see, our circumstances may be different, but we are children of the same Father having different mothers.
I always return knowing that real life is Christ, and real living is in him.
Father, be with my Kenyan friends who count their lives as nothing for the sake of the Gospel. Keep them safe as they go. Keep me faithful in my circumstances knowing always that I, too, bear your name. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.