As a foreigner in a region where locals had rarely sighted a light-skinned being, I knew the feeling of different.
During one season of discouragement, when my best efforts to connect with the Kuria seemed frail, I knelt on the concrete floor of a back room in our house. The prayer was brief, sincere, and seems as clear today as that morning I voiced it.
“God, please help these people know that I love them.”
In the silence an inner voice interrupted my pleadings. While it was kind, it was also direct, firm.
“Love them. You just love them.”
Just that. Simple and sparse, like a mail-order kit arriving without instructions.
How do I do this?
Years afterward a definition of Love crossed my path.
To will the good of another. I have yet to hear a phrase that, for me, better reflects the term.
I found myself through the years revisiting the Bukuria scene. Going to my knees in blue jeans and t-shirt at a location fifteen-hours’ drive from where Stanley met Livingstone under a Mango tree. I ponder again the response to my prayer on that day. Just love them.
Gauging love, measuring its impact, seems not always easy.
Pastor Mwangi calling to me (‘Teacher’) lifted his textbook as in a gesture of devotion.
“Before you came with the teachings – before bringing us these Bible courses. . .” The pastor’s voice went low.
“. . back then, when on Saturdays I would prepare a sermon for my people on Sunday, I only knew to follow a certain way. I did not know another way.
“I would pray, close my eyes and open my Bible – letting it fall open where it would. Then, feeling the page, I let my finger go to a place there. Opening my eyes I looked at the place. The words there became my sermon scripture for Sunday.”
“It was all I knew”, he repeated. “I did not know another way.”
Pastor Mwangi concluded as if offering up a sacrament as well as a confession.
“Now I know the good way. Thank you for bringing this Bible School, this T.E.E. I feed my people now and they are helped.”
Mounting my motorcycle that afternoon, I turned toward home, warmed by a gratifying thought.
Thank you, Lord for your word, and for this means of sharing it here.
He (God) was willing the good of a tribal people hungry for truth and for him. And was letting me have a part – growing me in a small measure to care as he cares.
Just loving them. Together.
©2017 Jerry Lout