Dear Pastor Joel,
I am very sorry to hear about the collapse of your toilet. I want you to know that my heart pains for your situation and I always wish to help in physical ways. So you understand my situation, I have spent most of my adult life working in countries in South America in areas where there was not much money to build and repair. Even here, in our own little Log Church, we have issues for which we, as a few people, have little resources.
Since I have worked in poor areas, people from those areas often ask me for help. Some I am able to help, but I myself am not of financial means that I can send money to everyone, nor is our church either large or wealthy. Besides that, I am an older man now and past the years of employment.
I thank you for sending me the price list of the materials that you will need. I, and the church will be praying for these needs to be met. Our hearts are one with yours.
God's Blessings to you,
My words may seem superficial and meaningless—just a wordy way to deny his request. You can see also how I was lowering expectations about being able to help.
But my words did also express past and present experiences and realities. And I discovered something else, I discovered that I meant the words when I expressed the sentiment that my heart was one with the church in Kenya.
As it also happened, about the time that this news came to me, I had been planning a trip to visit my son Levi, who was living in Ethiopia at the time, serving in the Peace Corps. Levi was living in such a condition that we rarely had news from him, and Vivian and I were missing him greatly. I needed to go and see Levi. I needed to see where he was living and how he was doing.
I wrote to Joel:
On another matter, I want you to know that I have a son who is working in Ethiopia in a poor village in the north of the country. I am traveling to go and see him next month. I had thoughts that perhaps I could come to see you as well, but it is already very costly for me to go to see my son, and to add a trip to your area of Kenya is much too costly for me. Sorry to say I am not able to visit.
However, please know that as I go to Africa, I will be praying for you, your church, your country, and your entire continent.
With the love of Christ,
I hesitated in telling this news to Joel, but at the same time, I thought that I should. By now this relationship had grown to a point that I thought that it would be deceitful of me to keep this from him. Ethiopia is, after all, right on the northern border of Kenya.
It was not a surprise to me that Joel responded to this news in the following manner:
Daddy, God who connected us with you had a purpose, sure daddy i can send you even the picture of the ministry here and even my identification card to located me and see what i and the church doing for the lord. Please come to Kenya even one hour on your way to Ethiopia you will see us and the church.