(Post continued from previous post – Part 1)
To understand the principle reason that my simple and straightforward plan to go to Ethiopia and see Levi has become a little complicated, I must take you back in time to the month of December of last year. One day in about the middle of the month, there was a letter in my email box from someone in Kenya. The man was a fellow pastor, and in part, his letter read:
"Dear Servant of God Pastor Don ,
We are glad for your faith and truth which you have posted on your website which indicate that God has inspired you more about the word of God.
[For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that I have been posting my Sunday sermons. In this brother’s subsequent letters, he told me that they use those sermons for teachings in their own church.]
[Now, to continue with the email] – We our life is touched and we believe as we stay in touch this church will never remain the same, our church is located in Kenya.
"We praise be to God because He has purpose why we have been directed to contact you to help us grow through the grace God has bestowed in you and you are of great inspiration, our local congregation which have the Brethren who are 112 who are glad to have you as our spiritual leader and mentor who can inspire us more because our prayer is that we need to grow in the word so that even us can spread the word before the second coming of Jesus Christ we welcome you with open heart to help us to grow because we are young growing church which pray and request for spiritual teaching and Bibles to help us grow.
Continue praying for this church and for the physical and spiritual needy for God to open ways for them to be free from that bondage. Really good to be part of your church here in our county. God bless you as we look forward to hear from you."
I am actually careful with these types of emails, since usually they are an initial means of contact to eventually ask for money. There are so many people in the world who are waiting and looking for any means to separate other people from their money, and in these days with the internet, that threat has grown to be world-wide.
Nonetheless, I have the same problem that many people have. That problem involves the very troubling words of the Apostle John:
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
I am afraid these words of John have gotten me into trouble in the past, and I intend to someday speak to esteemed apostle about what he wrote. However, since I have also always in the past exercised great caution, I think that the trouble John gotten me into with his words has always been the kind of trouble that I have been glad of. Certainly, the various troubles have complicated my life from time to time, but I have never actually been swindled or cheated, and I have always been able to at least hold out the hope that my efforts and monies were put to good use.
So when this brother wrote to me from Kenya, I had to respond. There was no way that I could just ignore his letter. My response was very non-committal – something to the effect that I was very glad to hear of his work in Kenya and wished him well in his work for the Lord. After that, I must admit that I hoped there would not be another email.
But the pastor wrote back.
I need to insert here that, in these types of contacts, this is a critical step. If this person on the other end of the cyber correspondence is indeed a scammer, once you have responded an initial time, the relationship between him had you is like a fisherman who has dangled a fly in front of the trout in a clear stream. Seeing that the fish is expressing some interest in his bait, the fisherman now wants to get the trout to test the fly out by taking it into his mouth. Once that initial commitment has been made, he then wants to set the hook.
The next letter that came was a very long one. In it the pastor explained the situation in his part of Kenya and told me of the ministry of their church.
“Our vision,” he told me, “is to see the world changed by the good news of God to the unreached souls and make them part of the living hope that is eternal life.
-To make Jesus famous (I liked the word he used)
-To evangelize the communities.”
The fellow went on to tell me a little bit about himself. “I am in very low position when I share my testimony with you and it is painful but God’s power and His grace have been sufficient to me.”
The man told me that when he was only one month old, his father died, and because of this, the Lord has now given him a heart to serve orphans and widows. According to what he said, the church has a special ministry to these people by trying to supply their basic needs. They have a small farm where they raise kale (that in itself seemed pretty sad to me), and it is apparently by the sale of this kale crop that they are able to have some funds.
Of course, there was no way that I could verify if any of this was indeed true, but although he told me often in his letters of matters of prayer, never did he mention a request for money. The letters came about every week, and since they were very encouraging in nature, I sometimes read parts of them to my own church or printed a letter to post on our bulletin board.
Then, about two weeks ago, he wrote about something that had happened at their church.
"Greetings in Jesus name, thanks for your prayers, surely as sorry to report to you that the toilet/latrine we were using on the church collapsed yesterday on our service time and left 2 children who were using the toilet during that time of collapse, with injuries but they children were attended on hospitals and this let our service not finish well, as the officer of health came to us and told us within five day we have new toilet or else our service will be disrupted."
He then asked if I could help with the expenses and went on to list the cost of the materials that they would need:
"Cement 20 Bags =Ksh.19, 000
Rentals 12 pcs =ksh. 9,560
Labour (will be offered by the church)
Personnel money =Ksh.12,400=
Doors are available
Sandy 1 lorry =Ksh.16,000
Total in USD=689"
What was I to do? The question is not even only, “What Would Jesus Do?” but also, what would the Apostle John tell me to do? I honestly do not think that it would be to close my heart.
But how was I to know if this is not merely an artificial fishing fly with a hook embedded in the middle? Suddenly, a thought came into my head – that thought I will tell you about next time.
For all practical purposes, this post is at “real time.” I honestly do not know how this is going to end, so I will let you know as all progresses.
(I will continue this post when I have the chance. I am flying through Dubai. That is one of the places from which the United States does not allow laptops on incoming flights. However, I am hoping that I can take it aboard on the outbound flight.)