Recently, I listened to a song called "Like the World Is Going To End" by Ben Rector in which he considers how his current life would change if the world was going to end next week. In the opening verse he draws the general conclusion,
It's funny how the thought of that can make something real important
and a lot of things pretty worthless too.
If the world was going to end soon, all of us would live differently I'm sure. But this question just opens up our priorities, spoken or unspoken, and lays them bare. In the end, what will really matter? And... are you doing that now?
Paul asks the same question in I Corinthians 3:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
In other words, when Christ draws this world to an end, what will really matter?
There are certainly mundane parts of our life, the week-in/week-out grind of jobs, kids, after-school activities, dinner... rinse, wash, repeat. But is your life being built on the foundation of Christ? What are you doing that will endure til eternity? Are you cultivating fruit of the Spirit? Loving your neighbor? Do you study Scripture? Raising children who know and love Jesus? Do you sacrifice for His kingdom? With whom are you sharing the good news of Christ?
I finally made it back to the Unites States and Alabama. It is good to be home. But as I sit here and reflect on this past 11 days in Kenya, I'm trying to comprehend the magnitude of what just took place. It's like trying to stitch together individual photographs into a panorama. I've got pictures of the clinic patients, my interpreter Bernard, Pst. Peter Kaunda leading the church-planting ceremony, the one man saved at our Thursday crusade in Bura, the wonderful singing, Robert Miriri furiously moving the sound system around, the two construction workers saved at one of the nightly revival meetings, the entire Kenyan team, the touching stories from our US team members, our sweet families at home in the US. Once properly aligned, it reveals an iMax panorama of sweat, sacrifice, service, sweet fellowship, and salvations. One of the many reasons why I love going to Kenya is because it helps me to see this panorama. It gives me a bigger picture of who God is. And He is certainly not confined to my house, my street, my church or my city. And the bigger God becomes, the lower it makes us. As John the Baptist said, "He must become greater. I must become less." (John 3:30)
I would like to specifically thank Bernard and the myriad of healthcare workers at the Mwatate and Bura Health Centres. They blessed us tremendously this week. For the past several years, we have been blessed to have local nurses, clinical health officers and doctors from the local clinic or hospital to serve as our interpreters for the week. They have been incredible blessings to us! More than anything, it help us to refine our clinical efforts to assist/support what they are doing. In other words, they help us understand the health needs of the community and we try to meet them. For example, my nurse this week was teaching me that they no longer empirically treat with antibiotics for Typhoid. They have become concerned with overuse of antibiotics (like the US) and are recommending that everyone be tested first before treatment. This has been part of a national effort in the past couple of years, he said.
Bernard was my nurse from the week who came from the Bura Health Centre. Wow, what a God-given blessing Bernard was to me! He had an incredible, detailed knowledge of the healthcare system in this region. He had worked for World Vision for about 7 years where he was involved with their community education and immunization projects. Now, he worked in the local clinic where they would see up to 100 patients per day. Bernard was a believer and helped me minister to many patients during the week, particularly to a man named Francis who came on the first day of clinic. I could immediately smell the alcohol on Francis' breath when he started talking. His speech was very animated, and the occasional wobble told me that he was fairly heavily inebriated. We spoke of past disappointments and regrets. He wanted to stop drinking but had been an alcoholic for at least 15 years. There was no family. No AA meetings. No detox unit. No support. Hopeless it seems. But amidst such overriding darkness, there is a Light. And while all worldly circumstances would tell me otherwise, I believe there is hope for Francis. And fortunately hope has a name, the Name above all names. Can He change this one heart who can then be person who draws many others to Christ? That's exactly what Christ did in John 4 for the woman at the well. And many were brought to Jesus because of her testimony.
This year, a friend of mine and physician, Ryne Schlitz, had the opportunity to go on the trip. He was excited from the get-go. While in Kenya, he had the opportunity to preach one night at the revival meeting. So when that evening came, I heard him preach a story about king David, his failures and the redeeming work of Christ. When an invitation was given at the end of the service, two construction workers gave their lives to Christ. These construction workers had been hired to build the church buildings in Mwatate and Bura. One was a local mason from Bura but one of the construction workers was from Bishop Achanga's church in Chavakali. There's something beautiful and remarkable about how God fashions together a call to salvation using the revival meeting, Ryne, this construction worker, the preaching of His word... at that particular place and time.
Going to Kenya each year is sacrifice for everyone. But God uses our sacrifice, whether at home or abroad, to advance His kingdom. Let us keep working for things that endure... that have eternal value... and will survive His refining fire.
There are so many stories to share from the week. In the coming weeks, I hope to have others share their stories with you in their own words.
I would like to thank all of you who prayed for and supported this mission trip. Your prayers are effective! Aside from the medications being confiscated when we arrived, this was probably the "smoothest" mission trip we've undertaken. And that's saying a lot considering the scope of this effort. And that is directly a result of the prayers of our team, friends, family and church families.