MALINDI, Kenya (BP)–My first day out into the bushlands of Malindi, Kenya — what a flop! My testimony doesn’t work here. It’s too confusing. And my skin. It’s not white. The villagers LOVE white skin and are absolutely intrigued by it. I don’t have that either. I have NOTHING to offer them.
But the next day, I meet Naomi, her baby and her toddler, Jimmy. They irreversibly change my life. Little Jimmy broke my heart sitting on his little piece of broken log, wearing a jacket two sizes too small with the hood pulled up over his head.
Runny nose, open, bloody, pus-filled sores around his right ear, flies constantly landing in and around his mouth, he sat whimpering in a sort of monotonous drone. I wanted to hold him and rock him and lay him down on a soft bed. But these villagers have NOTHING soft in their lives. No pillows for their heads, no cushions for their chairs, nothing but hard ground to lay their babies on, no mattresses to offer the sick and dying grandmothers.
Naomi is a member of the local Baptist church but had stopped coming for the last couple of months. “Satan is very strong,” she says, “and I am so tired.” (She has several other older children.) She asks if we will pray for Jimmy. He has a fever. To me, a child with a fever means some children’s Tylenol, a day’s rest and everything will be fine. To these villagers a fever means death is knocking.
As my interpreter, Stephen, and I stood to lay hands on Jimmy’s lice-covered head, the toddler started to scream. I said that we could just as easily pray for him without touching him if he was afraid of us, but Naomi wanted our hands on him. So she pulled him closer within our reach, Stephen calmed him down some, and then I prayed.
As I prayed, Stephen interpreted the prayer so that both Naomi and little Jimmy could understand. I prayed, thanking God for Naomi’s salvation and for our meeting today. I prayed for Jimmy’s complete healing, not only for the sake of healing, but so that Jimmy’s family would know how much God loved them and how much he wanted to take care of them. I prayed that God would heal Jimmy so that all those around could see his wonder and glory.
We finished. Naomi was beaming, little Jimmy still crying. She went off in one direction with her children and small herd of cows, we went in another direction toward another village. After walking for 15 or 20 minutes, we could hear women talking and laughing and, as we rounded the corner of the first home, we found the front porch crowded with women and children — and who should be the center of attention but Naomi and little Jimmy.
Yes! There sharing about their encounter with us and YES, about little Jimmy’s healing. His fever was gone. His nose dried up. Each woman there prayed to receive Christ as well as two other women who walked by and happened to notice all the commotion.
This story is one gem in a handful. Each one is precious and has in some way altered my life for all eternity. I chose this story to share because it was one of the first impressions made on my heart by the people of Kenya and also because it happened the day after I complained to God that I had NOTHING to offer the people of Kenya that would interest them.
And actually that was quite true. I came to Kenya thinking I was going to bring Jesus to these people. But he was already there, alive and vibrant and blowing through this country like breeze off the Indian Ocean.
Rather than bringing Jesus to the Kenyans, I think God brought me to Kenya to meet Jesus in a way that I had never seen him before. Up close and personal. I saw him through the eyes of another culture, a culture that has a childlike faith that I’ll NEVER see in America. Not even in our children. There’s an innocence and a purity about the kind of faith I saw there that gives God room to move.
Moreau is a correspondent for the Northwest Baptist Witness who was among 332 volunteers from across the United States who, in conjunction with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, participated in the Eastern Kenya Baptist Evangelistic Effort in late June and early July. This story can be used in tandem with the (BP) story, “Outreach in Kenya records 22,000 decisions for Christ,” dated 7/29/99.