From my missionary journal – Kenya, 1978
October 30 – “I read the Gospel of Matthew today (Matthew 16:24-28) about denying yourself and taking up the cross and losing your life for the sake of the Gospel. It made me think about my own situation here – I feel frustrated and hopeless because it seems sure that we will gain no success here, but that is purely a feeling of human success. I am nothing more than a common laborer for Christ – my job is to go and sow the seed, but there is no promise that I will reap the harvest. My denying myself or losing myself also means I cannot boast about any work I do here in Kenya. I have nothing to boast about but what the Lord does. God will make the seeds I sow to grow. I just need to do my work – to persevere and not expect any glory.
I guess this is the hardest part of being a Christian – the daily grind – carry your cross daily. Only on occasion are you nailed to the cross or freed from the burden of carrying the cross. Most of the time you just must trudge on. Being nailed to the cross is a form of glory, as is being delivered from carrying the cross is a joy. I live for days like yesterday when I had a chance to witness to Christ and in fact to somehow make Him present in the lives of the people. It is a true sensation, but you don’t get to live like that always. The effect may be great or total on the lives of these people and it just as surely changes one’s own life, but the power is also easily forgotten. The children of Israel knew this. So it’s the daily struggle which is so hard, even seeming impossible at times – no chance to witness to others about Christ – you’re alone with nothing to do. How do you do nothing as a Christian?
These are the trying moments which defeat so many Christians. You think Christianity will be a continuing series of spectacular events – a never ending brilliant fireworks display – but most of the time there isn’t even the smallest firecracker. It’s just you, with the knowledge of Christ, knowing you have to carry on and no one else knows or cares but God and sometimes you even forget Him or wonder if He can be bothered with a self pitying idiot like yourself.
I know many people back home look at me as having a spectacular chance to be a Christian – a missionary, a witness, a martyr with thousands of chances to sacrifice myself and to witness to Christ. If only they knew how frequently dull my life here is – the loneliness, the daily grind, the boredom, waiting for a chance “to show” my Christianity – to witness to Christ. The same dullness in their lives back home is here and everywhere. The same is true of being a Christian anytime and any where.
A priest really does have a very special witness – he brings Christ sacramentally present to the people. Even a bad priest does this. But if he is a good priest – a good Christian – what power he possesses to witness to Christ and to make Christ present in the lives of others. And though the priest’s witness is unique, the power behind it is found in the scriptures, in the epistles and gospels. I’m sure it is the same power that every Christian has through Chrismation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
October 31 “The rains have continued for several days and through the nights leaving everything in the house damp and outside everything is mud. To add to the gloom the sun has disappeared far behind the heavily overcast skies and the rain. (In the photo – heavy rains caused people to take rufuge in the church buildings. Note the motorcycles in the church – also brought into the church to protect them from the rain. Other valuables including livestock also would be brought in for protection. If the church had a steel rather than thatch roof, the din from the heavy downpours would be deafening. And many roofs leaked so one could get wet even if under the shelter of the church roof).
Read Galatians 6:9-10 this morning: ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.’ Seemed very appropriate for our work here because we are so near giving up hope. Also read Psalm 37 which too is very appropriate to our fears that the politics here are moving the bishop to be against us.
Some of our villagers and other visitors are hinting that Bishop Gathuna has turned against us. While some visitors were here some men from the village came and told us that we should not be speaking with these visitors. They told the visitors that the bishop has ordered that everyone is to come to them and to get permission to talk with us. One priest warned us today that our position in this village is dangerous because the bishop has turned against us and this village is loyal to him. I actually feel physically threatened for the first time since coming to Kenya – but not by enemies of Christ, but by people within the church – they very people I came to serve!”