How Can I Not?
Why do I keep going back to Africa and taking my grandkids with me?
It certainly is not because I have anything to teach the nationals. It is because I am a spoiled American with electricity, clean water—even hot water at my fingertips. I have a variety in my food morning, noon, and night. I ride comfortably in a car that has air-conditioned or heated seats. I put my clothes in a machine to wash and another to dry. I have access to innumerable books and information on the internet. A trash truck picks up an insane amount of my garbage every week, and I am distracted by it all.
But in Africa when I sleep under a mosquito net, carry water to flush my toilet when there is no running water, take a cold shower when there is water but no hot water, battle the bugs, eat rice at every meal, get covered with dust from the roads and the children dancing in the sand, I experience 2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
A powerful cyclone slammed into Mozambique in the middle of March. It took much of what little they had: houses, roads, crops, churches, and lives (over 1,000). Yet the 212 national pastors and 35 wives came together for a Reaching Souls International Leadership Development Institute at a heavily damaged retreat center in Beira, Mozambique, repaired just enough to accommodate our large group.
We worshiped with the pastors and their wives morning and evening for four days. They were always smiling, learning, singing, and dancing. Their accommodations were much simpler than ours. Yet they faithfully attended five classes a day for four days and stood in long lines for lunch and dinner.
The Reaching Souls women’s team-taught on Bible Study, The Holy Spirit, how to give your personal testimony, how to use the EvangeCube and Story Scarves, Discipleship, Lifestyle Evangelism, Assurance of Salvation, Prayer, Forgiveness, and Spiritual Warfare.
I taught two classes on Suffering and two classes on Marriage. I felt totally unworthy and pretty much unprepared. But, because of my prayer team’s faithfulness to pray and God’s enabling, I did the sessions and received good feedback from the African wives.
After four days of teaching, we divided into four teams of about 80 each and did personal evangelism and open-air meetings in twenty-four different locations (anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours away) chosen by the national missionaries.
The nationals weren’t distracted by what I saw: poverty, dirt, trash, disorder, hopelessness. They saw people whom Jesus made, loved, and died for. They saw their hearts and souls. And, though having nothing, they gladly offered the most valuable gift of all—salvation!
We went house to house, gathered people in the streets and marketplaces, talking to anyone who would listen, which was most. We all shared in telling The Greatest Story Ever Told through the EvangeCube or Four Spiritual Laws in Portuguese.
We first asked a simple question, “May I share a story with you?” Then, after the Gospel was clearly presented, many prayed to receive Christ and filled out a card in duplicate, keeping one to remember the most important decision of their lives. The other copy to be given to a local pastor who WILL follow up.
After going through neighborhoods and markets, we presented open-air meetings, calling loudly with a speaker system for all who could hear to come and learn about Jesus. The Gospel was presented by song, testimony, flip chart “Bridge Illustration,” and preaching.
The heat was intense, but it did not slow the Africans. Their passion and energy never waned. Sweat glistened on their heads and ran down their foreheads. In between a.m. and p.m. open airs, they ate box lunches on hot buses.
Our translators worked tirelessly, taking our babble and touching the minds and hearts of the people. Our schedule was extremely orderly and efficient but with room for flexibility. At the end of three days, we added up the people that had made first-time decisions to trust Christ alone for their salvation – 21,361 souls! I am undone!
Why do I keep going back to Africa?
How can I not?