In my life, being involved in missions for 25 years, I have met a lot of people from different backgrounds and cultures. I truly believe that our Heavenly Father loves different cultures with amazing colours and languages. No culture is better than the other as we are all born in the image of God.
Culture becomes a problem when it influences the true gospel (the GOOD NEWS) by adding or taking something from it. The gospel on its own is “strong” enough to stand by itself. I truly believe after many years and many mistakes that I have made, that there is nothing unseen or seen; stronger than the true Gospel as it changes people from being dead to new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In my early years being involved in missions I was called to go to Kenya for one year. I submitted my unpaid leave form to my manager which he remarkably approved. I went through a process of acceptance and was approved by Africa Inland Missions (AIM) as a short term missionary. I did a week’s language classes in Nairobi and was sent to live with a Maasai family in the South of Kenya to adapt to the culture. Three weeks later I was sent to a place called Laisamis, which was located in a semi desert area. The short term co-ordinator Tim, from AIM, decided in his wisdom to make me the temporary pastor of the local church. The Samburu and Randili tribes lived in that area of Kenya and they were at that stage recognized as some of the most tribal cultures in Africa due to the remoteness of the area. Understand that at that stage of my life the only activity I did in the church was being a Sunday school teacher.
Being alone in the desert and in a situation which was not easy at all, I started to call out to my Lord Jesus in my total state of desperation. It was the first time in my life that the Lord started to speak to me out of His Word. I asked the Lord, “What am I doing and what should I be doing in Laisamis?” His reply was Acts 17, verse 26. So that is what I started to do and I walked for days and many miles spreading the GOOD NEWS. Come Sundays, I had to preach and handle the service. At one stage, a missionary organisation called Daguna came to the area.
They have a strategy to go to remote areas in Kenya with a customised Bedford truck from which they lived and worked. Every person on the truck was an evangelist and they teamed up with the local church and evangelised 24/7. For obvious reasons, I worked with them in the area for a month. I became very good friends with one of the members and the two of us teamed up as we left in the mornings on foot to spread the gospel. The two of us walked very far one specific day and ended up in a very remote area with a Samburu hut which looked deserted from a distance. We realised very quickly that a family stayed there. We were greeted by an old Samburu woman sitting at the entrance of her hut. We did the customary “thing”, drink hot sweet tea with camel milk. My friend spoke the local language and he started to talk to the old women about the gospel. It was a very long discussion and the old Samburu woman accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Keeping in mind that this specific old woman was dressed as a true Samburu woman.
In her culture this meant that she was circumcised as a young girl before she got married. Furthermore, her only “task in life” was to have babies, cook for her husband and look after her children. I was a bit confused to be brutally honest at what happened in front of my eyes. We started to walk back after we said our good-byes to the smiling old Samburu women. Still pondering on the event I asked my friend if I could ask him a personal question while walking back. He stopped walking with an acknowledgment. My question was: “Do you truly believe that the old Samburu woman will be in heaven one day?” For as long as I live, I will never forget his reply and it is engraved in my mind and heart. He looked me straight in the eyes and with an openness and sincere concern replied: “Dango, we will be very surprised to see who is in heaven one day but we will be more surprised by who is not in heaven.”
Matthew 7, verse 21: “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.”
The verses that follow continue to speak of people that prophesy, drive out demons and do miracles in His name, but were denied by the Lord Jesus himself to enter heaven. We truly live in strange and confusing times with “voices all over the church” from all sides.
Truly seek the Lord Jesus with all of your heart and do the will of your Father in heaven. After all, our heavenly Father looks at the heart of “man” and not at what we do or say.
Shalom and Grace
Featuring in March edition of Team Talk.