Meanderings from my Missionary Journal, Kenya, 1978

The meanderings of a missionary from my journal:

14 Oct 1978 –  “I walked to Nderi village to give a talk in the church.  I arrived at the church, but no one was there.   I waited in the church to see if some would show up.  I realized how barren the building really was  – no icons, no altar table, nothing on the walls – totally empty.  While I sat in that barren building I wondered if God feels like this sometimes – alone without His people.   Maybe God too sits in these empty church buildings and wonders about where His people are.”   (Just a note about the journal entry – villagers eventually did show up.   I was slow learning about village life – there was no electricity in the village, no clocks.  I would arrange to come to a village and tell them I would be there at 2pm.  But I had a hard time remembering that 2pm meant “whenever I show up.”  I would keep looking at my watch and thinking the people are always “late.”   The truth was they would only come to the church after I showed up and word got around that I was there.   They always came in a timely fashion once they knew I was there – dropped whatever they were doing to show up at the church). 

20 October 1978  –  “Learned a Kikuyu proverb today – ‘I can’t help you until you help yourself.’   The spirit of Harambee which one hears about in every village in Kenya.”

In the photo below there actually is a leopard in that tree over my head.  If you look toward the top, you see the tree branches, follow the left branch until it branches again, and there sits the leopard.

21 October 1978 –  “I wonder about the nature of the Church – I used to believe in there being one visible Church, but now I don’t know even if that is what God wants.  Of course if we were all to follow Christ’s teachings – love, unity, faith, peace, serving others, etc, – there would be no problem with one church, but man seems so divisive, so quarrelsome, proud and greedy that I don’t know how we can ever be one church.  This must sadden Christ – I’m thinking about Ephesians 5 and Christ presenting Himself with the spotless bride – the Church!    The Church here in Kenya is so divided, and really hardly any idea of “the Church” exists in people’s lives.”

23 October 1978 –  “I finished reading Graham Greene’s THE POWER AND THE GLORY.  i thought it was an excellent book.  The priest somehow was disappointing because he never gave up his drinking and yet in the end he wins for Christ the little child atheist, Luis.  It made me think about people who are tempted away from Christ all because of just one bad witness.  And yet, we should not be too quick to judge, for even this whiskey priest, who is totally worthless wins one soul for Christ.”

24 October 1978 –  On this day we met for the first time a group of priests who represented yet another faction within the badly divided church.  “There was a very strange thing that happened while we were talking to these priests.  Jack was talking and said, ‘when we were called by Christ…’  The statement just seemed to stick in the air as if it had no place to go – Christ had no place there, and we were not called by Him to be doing such work as listening to the multitudinous sins of the Bishop.  I really was wondering what I was doing in that room and there in Kenya.  It seems that I have forgotten my call to preach the Good News, love, unity, faith and have entangled myself in a completely secular political fight.  I really wondered how these priests could relate to a statement like ‘when Christ called me.’   Christ seems so distant from these discussions – maybe he doesn’t want us here, or maybe we are invading Satan’s stronghold and Christ is coming in power.” 

25 October 1978 –  “Standing in church alone today, I asked Christ, ‘What should I do now?’    Christ replied, ‘Do you really want me to tell you?’   I knew the answer was ‘no’  and could only laugh at myself for asking a question that I did not want (especially Him!) to answer.   If He told me what to do, and I didn’t do it, or I tried but failed, then what?   Not knowing what to do at least gives me some excuse not to do it.  But I am not prepared to have Christ tell me what to do, as then there would be no excuse as the word would come directly from Him.   In the Church, we don’t really want to ask Christ what to do BECAUSE He might tell us!  And chances are we wouldn’t want to do it.  We prefer to stumble in the dark and to curse the darkness.  That is safer than being told by Him exactly what to do and then not wanting to do it.”

One thought on “Meanderings from my Missionary Journal, Kenya, 1978

  1. Very interesting indeed. Thank you for this! And I too think The power and the glory is a great book — a reminder that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, and that the one who does God’s work is God. Anything good we do is the Holy Spirit’s work, anything else is our interference.

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