Yesterday we were invited by Daniel Tieh, our Liberian missionary friend, to visit one of his churches and a young pastor in a local village. The village was about 30 miles away and took us about an hour to get to. As visiting missionaries, it’s customary to be seated with the pastor at the front of the church looking out at the congregation. It always feels a bit awkward, but we graciously accept the seats of honor. It’s harvest season, so a majority of the church members were working the fields only leaving about 10 people in the service. We sang several songs, and heard special numbers from a small women’s choir and a small men’s choir. Daniel then introduced us to the church. At the end of his introduction, he announced John was going to bring the sermon. John didn’t know he would be preaching and hadn’t prepared a message. But as he walked up to the podium, the Lord provided a full message from Matthew 6:25-34. Although we were in a poor village, the message centered on not feeling poor because God provides for all of our needs. We should be singing for joy all day like the birds because God is always taking care of us.
After the service, the pastor invited us to sit down for 15 minutes and share tea with others from the church. Knowing the culture, John said it’s impossible to have tea in 15 minutes. It’s usually closer to 2 hours. Everyone laughed as they acknowledged this observation. We stayed and enjoyed tea and conversation with them. They also treated us to roast sheep. We felt very blessed. After a while, we excused ourselves to return home.
Our poor little car is close to 20 years old and has put on tens of thousands of extremely hard miles in Mali. Every trip is an adventure, and this one was no exception. Besides having two of our outside door handles break off the night before, we also had to stop for air in one of our tires in a village on the way to church. Then, as we were heading home and were in the middle of the bush, the temperature gauge started rising into the red zone. We pulled off the road and found the radiator was completely empty. We refilled it with our water bottles and hoped for the best. As we approached the next village, the temperature was again in the red zone. We pulled over and upon closer inspection, John and Daniel found a crack in the radiator. Someone from the village came to help and suggested we put epoxy glue on the crack as a temporary fix. He went to a roadside shop and picked some up for us, then undertook the repair himself.
It was hot, and as we were waiting for the glue to dry, we sat down under the shelter of a gas station that was under construction nearby. We shared the shade with a family consisting of a mother, 3 teenage daughters and several smaller children. After extending pleasantries, we talked amongst ourselves for several minutes. Then John had the idea of sharing a Bible story with the kids. He told the story of Noah and the ark with great drama and enthusiasm. When he finished the story, Daniel shared that after Noah, God provided Jesus to become our Savior. As he was talking, one the girls asked how she could accept Jesus. Daniel proceeded to pray the sinner’s prayer with her. He then took her phone number to follow-up with her. John went on the explain that we were on our way to the city and didn’t intend to stop. But God stopped our car there because He wanted us to share with the family and tell them how much God loves them.
Missionary life is cool!