I have no doubt that tomorrow as I wait in the Dubai airport and contemplate the past month, I’ll have some observations or remember other stories to relate, but this afternoon I am biding my time until I travel to the Nairobi airport to head home. I am feeling an unusual mix of emotions as the final hours tick away.
Then something happened that changed my day dramatically. A dear sister here at the Mayfield House has been under a long sustained attack from evil forces and I have listened to her story and been moved. In her mid-late 70s, she is a native Kenyan i.e. her grandparents immigrated here from England about the turn of the previous century. Her family built and owned a large estate and she is the last of her family that was on it, then a man who had moved here from the Middle East started trying to seize it from her, hiring thugs to beat her workers anytime they left the land to go to town, starting fires, and generally attacking her using his wealth to buy off politicians and even judges. He married a young Kenyan girl whose three brothers are attorneys with high connections and so he “inherited” a seat in the inner circle using his money to buy favor. The local people were aware of what was transpiring so when they caught some of his thugs one night a fight ensued and one of the thugs was killed. The Saudi had her and her foreman arrested for murder and imprisoned. He hated her both because he couldn’t buy her off and because he despised her as a Christian and as a woman, believing no woman should own property. His wife, now also a Muslim, came to the prison every day hollering out taunts and loudly offering the guards and other inmates money to kill her. The cost of attorneys depleted all her resources and forced the sale of her land… which the foreigner got. The first judge was bought by the Muslim man and it looked like she was going to be killed for the false charges, then a change of judges (inexplicable other than by the hand of God) brought her before a Christian judge who was angered at their attempt to bribe him and then to threaten him. She has been freed, but might end up destitute, without family or home, after her family having been a pillar in that community for generations.
Anyway, this woman saw me sitting alone, knew I was leaving today, and asked only if I would be here for dinner. Then what transpired moved me deeply as it spoke to the very deepest things in my heart. But as I started to write about it to you, it struck me that it might be better for me to give you a peak into our marriage today by sharing what I wrote to Kellie:
I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as I write to you… I had begun a letter to everyone but was struggling as the final hours here tick away. In two hours I’ll be headed to the airport and I have so many questions.
I had been sitting in a large common area, but quite alone as I was on my computer with my earplugs in, not visiting with anyone since lunch.
With a mixture of emotions flooding through me, but a sober sort of melancholy probably crowding the others, I had withdrawn to the downstairs library, a sort of quiet little nook with a more comfortable sofa and out of the way of all traffic. I was listening to Chris Tomlin as I was meditating and reflecting and the older lady I told you about (the one imprisoned falsely and losing her family estate) walked past, heard the music and looked in… asking only if I would be here for dinner. A few minutes later she came back and without even speaking just handed me a handwritten note and a little card. I really hadn’t discussed much of myself with anyone, preferring to ask questions and listen… I already know my story.
But what she had written was this scripture:
'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.' (Jer 29:12-14)
That was probably the one thing I needed to hear more than anything else I can imagine.
And the card said:
Wherever you are going… God will be there with you.
“If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psa 139:9-10)
And Chris Tomlin is singing, I Will Follow…
I am SO GRATEFUL I have a wife who can understand my heart and who shares my love for HIM. Someone to whom I can speak of the deep things within me, the things which stir me, the things which convict me, the questions and the joys and the fears… and know you share my heart.
I LOVE YOU!
I share this because the reality is that I am not contemplating a decision that impacts only me. If I am going to be coming here regularly to build this pastoral training school, teaching both pastors and evangelists, I believe it is essential their wives also be taught and I’m not the one who can do that. And anything I decide is going to impact our finances in a major way. I’m pretty certain God placed me in the career He did, after I was no longer able to preach full time, for a reason. For years I thought it was so I could support missions… perhaps it was more personal. I am blessed that all of my clients are believers who support me in my missions; something that hasn’t happened by accident but by my design. I could never see building wealth for those who would then use that wealth for purposes contrary to Father’s will, often even to oppose His Kingdom. So, I culled my original book of business years ago in Phoenix and focused upon improving the positions of those who would then be “sending” the preachers and missionaries, supporting the orphans and providing for the advancement of the Kingdom in every way.
An amusing aspect of staying here has been the “Dueling Loud Speakers.” In the morning and evening one can hear the prayer calls from the nearby mosque, something I’ve mentioned before, but in this instance, right next door is the Nairobi Baptist Church, possibly the largest Baptist church I’ve ever seen. And they have LOUD SPEAKERS on their roof that play Christian music, from hymns to contemporary, throughout the day and most of the day. I am fairly certain that my distaste for the Islamic prayer calls is nowhere near as great as their distaste for the Christian music praising God. And the Baptist church is TALLER than their mosque… another sore point, I’m sure. It appears to be at least six stories tall and the sanctuary has balconies that just don’t quit… I have no idea what their seating capacity is but it has to be huge.
As I’ve had music playing this afternoon, as I can’t always hear the music next door from inside, I began thinking about something I read a while back. There are more people each week singing Chris Tomlin’s songs the songs of any other musician… If I recall correctly, it said more people around the world are singing his music praising God than all other song writer’s combined. I might not be accurate on that last part because it seems incredible that it could be so, but the fact is I’ve had his music playing for several hours now and haven’t had one song that didn’t move me closer to God. I doubt he ever dreamed when he started writing music that he would reshape the assemblies of all kinds of churches around the world, that people of all ages would be drawn closer to Father through his work and that his music would be sung by hundreds of millions who have never even heard of him.
It’s a half hour until dinner and I leave for the airport half an hour later. I probably won’t have Internet access until tomorrow so I want to get this out before leaving here. I am coming home a little lighter baggage wise than I came—both physically and spiritually but I do have one more suitcase. I had to go to the store today and ended up at a Nakumat, which put the store I wrote about a couple of days ago to shame (and definitely dwarfed the Kisumu Nakumat in every way; size, quality, cleanliness, selection, etc.) This one was a mall in itself, and as modern as an American store… with prices to match. Anyway, I had to go buy a suitcase because I had purchased two small wooden carvings and there was no way I was getting them into my backpack! So, I got a small carry-on style that I’ll check so as not to have to deal with it on the plane, and I packed the carvings carefully using some of my clothing around them to protect them. So, my backpack is lighter too. I didn’t want to have to manage two bags while in Africa and I didn’t want to carry a suitcase and you sure couldn’t roll one where I’ve been so I had packed as I did to come, but now for the flight home… I’ll roll a little suitcase along with me as I go check my bags. I have a big duffle that my backpack fits into very nicely that I use for packing my backpack inside for the plane or buses to avoid having straps snagged on anything and torn loose.
Those of you who have accompanied me on this journey through my letters, I ask you to pray for me now both for a safe journey and that I might continue to hear Father’s voice as I seek to discern His will for our lives.
Thanks for all the encouragement so many of you have given me along the way… it has made more difference than you can imagine.
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.