I have found that in my years of ministry, the writers that have benefited me the greatest are those from other cultures. As I worked with many pastors in many countries, I very often found their perspectives on certain scripture passages illuminating. Their education level often did not seem to matter a great deal, nor the size of their church. What mattered was their heart for God and for applying the teachings of the Bible into their lives and the lives of the people.
I usually do not receive the same amount of benefit from American writers of books. Myself, coming from the same culture, normally see things in the same general manner as do they. Very often I know what they are going to say before even reading their words. I should think that we all would benefit by reading teachings that go outside of our middle-class American perspective.
I suppose this is one of the reasons that I have enjoyed my work with pastors from other cultures. But even with this, the letters from Pastor Joel were different than any I had read in the past. Among all of the cultures with which I had worked, never had I had extended contact with a pastor from any region of Africa.
However, when reading the letters of Joel, I was always just a bit on guard. In the corner of my mind, I was thinking, “I wonder how long it will be until he asks me to send him some money.”
I am not sure if I should be ashamed of this or not. I have always tried to give people the benefit of any doubt that I may be having. This has been especially true for those servants of God who are working in adverse situations. Nevertheless, wolves do sometimes put on the fleece of a lamb, and thieves do sometimes don the rags of a servant.
Joel would often ask me and the Log Church of Tripoli to pray for their needs. He had told me that he had a small farm where he raised kale in order to sell to buy the items necessary for the orphans and others. The people of the church also gave tithes to purchase exercise books, pencils, pens and clothes. The tithes also helped in the provision of food.
“Keep praying for us God to provide and make doors open for the orphans with us God to meet their need in his richness as they need food, cloths and school fees.”
“Our prayer request for Kenya church. Food for the orphans with us, Shelter, school fees.”
Mention of their needs were always in this manner. “Pray.” “Ask your church to pray.”
Then one day I received a letter that again told of some of the difficulties that they were facing. It was a full two months and perhaps a couple dozen letters after our correspondence began. A portion of that letter read, “Kindly Daddy help this children with food, kindly help us with even 150 Dollars to buy food we are suffering.”
What manner of hard-hearted American could turn away from an appeal such as this? This hard-hearted American, that’s who. I did nothing. I prayed, as I always had done, but nothing else. I still had many questions.
However, I did also have another thought. I had two steers that I should butcher in the fall, and I thought to myself, “I wish there was a way that I could get that beef over to those people.”