I’d opened the McLaughlin New Life Center, a book depository, a few days ago. Pastor April needed a few boxes of Bibles and other teaching materials for a leadership workshop he was conducting in conjunction with a few other area churches. The Bibles are shipped from America and distributed free of charge to those who don’t have one or can’t afford one. Pastor April brought a small pick-up and a young man from Malawi to help load.
Bro Jeremiah had only been in South Africa for about six months. Two weeks ago, he accepted Christ as his Savior and was immersed. He was a happy man, willing and able to do anything as a part of his Christian service. I chatted to him — he is a Chichewe — and he taught me to say hello in his home language. I asked if he had a Bible now that he was a new Christian — he shook his head that he didn’t. (This is a common problem — churches don’t have the funds to pass out Bibles when they’re needed the most.) I gave him a brand new NIV leather bound Bible from one of the boxes. He was delighted.
Then, he noticed an odd item near the door of the loading bay. It was an old unicycle, a little rusted, with a broken seat and one pedal. It had a solid tire and was sturdy. Jeremiah was fascinated. I asked if he knew what it was — he said he had one in Malawi for awhile but it was gone. I give him the unicycle and he was overjoyed! He couldn’t believe that he now had a gift of the Word for his personal study but also, a gift of joy for his happiness!! He sat in the back of the pick-up as it drove away, clutching his Bible in one hand and the unicycle in the other.
We often just think of our problems, worries and trials. We pray constantly for answers to these. But isn’t there room for God to bless us, just because? Just for our happiness?
I believe He does! Don’t you?
Sana just completed artwork on the trailer. Originally, you’ll see it had the markings of the company who rented trailers and she didn’t like it. I thought we’d just paint it over and leave it. Sana didn’t agree. She asked for the details of what should be on the trailer and designed the new logo. It took her about two hours to get the job done.
The trailer was parked in the warehouse and while I helped Bro Wale and Pastor Solomon load books and Bibles, Sana did her work carefully and meticulously. I took a photograph afterwards — she didn’t want to be in it but this time, I insisted. (She doesn’t like to be in the forefront.)
“”if you think of me as your partner, accept Onesimus as you would accept me.” Philemon 17 (Simple English Bible)
I often ask myself, where is the respect and honor? It seems as if people, Christian and non-Christian are intent on beating each other up over trivialities and nonsense! Have we become a people of trigger hair responses and angry retorts? The other day, I witnessed an altercation between two people in the parking lot over a parking space. I knew both of them — one belonged to an independent church group and another to a denomination. Both were sincere and dedicated Christians but a public bashing that was nearly a fist fight didn’t seem to be the right attitude.
While I agree that Christians should take a stand about their faith and immorality, I also believe that vehement protests and heated accusations really don’t bring people together. In a personal letter, the apostle Paul asks Philemon to respect a slave, Onesimus, as he could Paul himself! What an astounding request! A slave owner, used to being obeyed instantly, now had to regard his possession as a personage similar to the apostle!
Perhaps our vision is equally dimmed! Do we see people as human being with similar desires and faults? Or are we focused more on their beliefs and nationality? Can we accept another man’s culture and traditions as much as he accepts ours? Tough questions! In all of this, we must understand that we are all God’s children, welcomed into His family under the Blood of His Son. And, because God has accepted all of us, we have no right to exclude anyone from His family!
I know it isn’t easy but who said it was supposed to be?