God is faithful to teach us lessons that we need to learn. If we are fully committed to serving the Lord, He will oftentimes use everyday circumstance to grow us. This means we have a lot of opportunities to practice dying to our flesh. In addition to that, we have a lot of situations to love as Jesus had loved. Walking through interactions that are difficult gives us the opportunity to see who our true master is. Any time we do not follow God’s word and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit, we have fallen short. We have the tendency to become very judgmental and critical of each other. The Bible strictly forbids this as the body of believers. In fact, spreading discord amongst the brethren is one of the things that God hates. I have been guilty of this many times, but now God has given me understanding to this reality. The importance of loving one another through difficult situations is monumental. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit in a body of believers will never manifest if there is not harmony and love for one another.
There is a vast difference between what I have experienced in the US and Africa. Dying to self is a very difficult concept to fathom let alone put into practice. As we begin to gain victory in this area, we grow exponentially in our ability to love people. Beyond being fully committed and surrendered to Jesus, unity in the body is near the top of the list in importance. It seems like nearly any reason causes people to separate from one another in the US. The primary reason this is true is because we get offended instead of looking at it as an lesson to grow in Christ. The reality is, if we become offended, it is because we have something within us that is not yet dead. Our mindset should be that almost nothing should cause us to have division. If we are not demonstrating God’s word in the way we interact with each other, we have become disobedient servants. Praise Jesus for the difficult learning opportunities.
The first leg of the flight from Detroit to Frankfurt, Germany was a bit unsettling. The gentleman that I was sitting next to seemed very distraught and uneasy. There seemed to be little interest to have any communication with me. He would quickly flip through magazines stopping occasionally to rip out an ad or page. A spirit of peace seemed to elude him. Sometimes it is overwhelming to realize how many people live their lives without joy. Dozens of times I would smile at different people, and only a few would respond in a like manner. The ability to warmly interact as individuals is on a steady decline. This is largely because of the absence of Jesus occupying the void that lies inside of everyone. The sooner that people come to the understanding that material items or other humans can never fill that void, the better off they will be.
The second leg of the journey was a different story. When I took my seat on the airplane, the one next to me was unoccupied. When a lady stopped next to my row, I watched as her husband went down several more rows. Something inside me said to offer my seat so they could sit together, so I did. They were very thankful for that opportunity, especially considering that it was a eight hour flight. What seemed like just a courteous thing to do turned into something quite different. God wanted to have me placed in the other row for a specific reason. My new flight companion was named Dwight, an 80-year-old American Christian man. He had come to Kenya about a dozen years ago. His life had been successful and he felt as though God was calling him to the mission field. Our flight went by very quickly as we talked for several hours.
His time in Kenya has revealed many of the same lessons that I have experienced. After being married for 47 years, his wife had passed away from COPD. He never even considered the possibility of being remarried, but eventually found a Kenyan woman to share the rest of his life with. He asked if he could pray for me. I agreed, but I was a bit surprised by what he prayed. He asked God to give me the gifts and abilities that he had in his life. I found this to be a quite moving and tearful experience. I was wearing a Christian T-shirt and I had a duplicate of it in my carry-on bag. I felt moved to give him one, so I did, and he even went to the restroom to change his shirt-wow. Now the two of us sat side-by-side, on the plane, with matching shirts. A 60-year-old and an 80-year-old side-by-side enjoying each other’s fellowship dressed as twins. It was not what I expected, but it was awesome.
After landing in Nairobi, I was able to get some rest before our seven-hour drive to Kisii. What exactly we were going to find ourselves in was a bit of a mystery. I met up with Martin in the evening and he had an interesting experience before he arrived at the airport. He thought that he was going to be deported back to Australia! In Malawi, a person has to report every 30 days to the immigration office, and Martin was unaware of this fact. He had gone five months without doing so. They were not even going to let him call his wife. God always has a contingency plan when you are serving the master. A few weeks prior to this, Kelvin and Martin had gone to the immigration office to thank them for helping us with our guests from Pakistan.They had given out Bibles and explained to them the mission of Echo. One of the ladies that received a Bible a few weeks prior saw Martin being escorted by officials. She quickly came to his rescue and they all ended up apologizing as she stamped the five months as “approved.” When we are participating in God’s will, He always intervenes on our behalf when necessary so that we may proceed with His plan. By regularly doing this, we keep the perspective correct that all is for His will and for His glory.