I just go home from a mission trip to Rongai, Kenya. This was a Q Missions adventure, but only with a small scouting team to check out the area and people who we’d be serving. The team was Aaron, the founder of Q Missions. Kevin, who grew up in Kenya and speaks Swahili and Kikuyu. And me, the chaplain. The pastor of the church we ministered with was Pastor Allan. He is a great pastor and loves his people very much.
Pastor Allan said we needed to do a quick pastoral visit with an elderly woman who hasn’t been able to make it to church because her legs don’t work very well. He visits her regularly.
It will take 10 minutes.
I was up for anything, but didn’t really know what to expect. He drove up the road then slowed down to navigate the ditch as he took us off of the road and into what looks like a small field. As we reach the edge of the field and got out, I saw a gate in a make shift fence. This must be the place. Pastor Allan led us through the gate and up to the house.
There are chickens in the bare dirt yard, and coming in and out of the house at will. There is a puppy too, who seems to have the run of the place. The house is small and wrapped in corrugated tin, with rust on the roof. There was a man sitting beside the door in a white plastic chair. He smiled as we approached, stood up and welcomed us in. His name is Thomas, and he is the 97 year old husband of the 91 year old woman, Leah, we had come to see.
We went inside and sat down quietly on the humble mismatched furniture, waiting for the pastor to minister to her. Kevin sat close to Leah, and Aaron and I sat adjacent. On the other side of the room was a pot cooking over a small stove. Possibly food for their dinner. A woman named Grace was there too. She was a close friend of Leah’s; like family. They spent time weekly praying and fasting, and seeking the Lord together. Leah was a faithful woman. Pastor Allan describes her as “his pastor”. She often ministers to him, and brings him encouragement. She had planted the first 12 churches in this area back in the 60’s. She is a strong and faithful woman of God. Pastor Allan introduced us to them as his friends, who just wanted to come pray with her.
Leah’s primary language is Kikuyu, and she didn’t speak English, but since this is also Kevin’s tribal language he was able to translate for her very well. He speaks better Kikuyu than he does Swahili. A lot can be lost in the subtlety of a language, so this was amazing, and I knew we would get the most understanding of what she had to say. I wasn’t prepared to interact much. We had already spent several days here preaching and teaching. I have to admit I was a little weary, but I figured that Pastor Allan would do all the work.
I would just have to sit there and smile and nod.
I wasn’t paying too close of attention at this point. Kevin was translating, Leah was rocking and wiping her eyes as she began speaking. I heard Kevin translate, “She has a verse for you that is very important to her. Her life verse, and what gives her encouragement, and keeps her going every day.” I heard “Matthew 25:40 something” and I recognized it right away. It was an important verse for Aaron too, and I knew it! I looked over at him and elbowed him, as if to say, “Are you hearing this right now?!”
Leah looks right at Aaron and continues, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me…” She was quoting Matthew 25:31-46 to us. This was amazing because this verse is also Aaron’s anchor verse for Q Missions. It’s even on the Operation Restore Hope logo. This verse is why Aaron takes teams onto the mission field. Aaron looked stunned. Leah was quiet. I tried to wait for him to speak but I couldn’t. I told Kevin, “Tell her that is Aaron’s anchor verse too! It is what his whole mission is founded on. That’s why we are here!”
Now I can see that she isn’t just wiping her eyes, she is wiping away tears.
She is getting emotional. Finally Aaron speaks. He says, “That verse is the reason for my whole ministry. It’s on the logo. I didn’t know why God had called me to Kenya. I’m having trouble connecting to this place. I didn’t know why I was here until this moment. You are why I was brought here.”
Leah became quiet for a moment, then began to get very emotional. She shares with us that two weeks before, she had a vision. A vision that two Mzungu (white foreigners) would come to pray with her, and bring her encouragement. And they would say the exact thing that Aaron had said! I was tearing up as I heard Kevin translating these amazing words. We all just sat quietly, trying to figure out what just happened, and wrap our minds around it. Your brain tries to steal the moment and rationalize it. It’s got to be a coincidence. How was this possible? She doesn’t have a TV. She doesn’t have a phone. Pastor Allan didn’t tell her we were coming. She wasn’t at church on Sunday, so she didn’t even know we were in town. Before my mind could rob me of the Holy Spirit’s blessing, Aaron begins to speak quietly to Kevin.
Aaron asked Kevin if it would be culturally appropriate if he asked to wash her feet. Would that be okay? Kevin said it would be okay, and Leah agreed too. Aaron, being obedient to the Holy Spirit, knelt down at Leah’s feet, and with a water bottle and the Cambodian scarf from around his neck, he washed her feet right there in that small living room. Leah put her hand over her face and cried tears of joy.
We all sat there quietly. I don’t know how long it lasted. It was like time was standing still. I was reflecting on how Aaron almost didn’t wear the scarf that day. He had asked me in the morning if he should, as he hemmed and hawed about it. I said, “Go ahead. It will be fine.” Little did we know how that decision would play into our future. He didn’t mean to bring his water in either, and tried to hide it behind his leg while we were there, not wanting to be rude.
This all was so overwhelming. I did not expect this all to happen, and it caught me off guard. I think at that point Aaron and I stood up, said good bye, and walked out of the house. We just looked at each other, not really knowing where to start. I said to him, holding up my fingers, “Two Mzungu. Two!” then suddenly we got called back into the house. Leah had called us back and said that we can’t go. We forgot to give her our names. We all sat back down, and Aaron sat next to Leah. We all said our names and repeated them. She said that she would remember our names in her prayers, and asked that we would remember to pray for her too. Her great granddaughter (I think) came in with tea for everyone. We all sat and drank tea, and talked about the goodness of the Lord. Leah was encouraged, and felt blessed that God had showed her a vision, and it had come to pass. It was beautiful.
It was hard for my mind to focus. It was full. Leah talked about Joseph from the bible, and how today’s youth are a lost generation. She has seen many generations in her life, and this one troubles her the most of any of them. She said, “Just pray for them. Just pray!” She was worried about the young people, and how far from the Lord they are.
Then she said something that sobered me.
She said that everything the bible said would come to pass has happened. The only thing left is for Jesus to come back. I have heard this before, and I believe it, but in light of what I had experienced over the last hour or so, it seemed more powerful. More real than before. We stood up, held hands in a circle, and prayed for each other. Then we left.
As we drove back through the ditch, and back onto the dirt road, I was trying to get a grasp on the moment. Here we were, halfway around the world, in the humble home of who turns out to be the spiritual forerunner of this whole area. A missionary and church planter. Because she planted the church, we had a connection here, and a reason to come. She spoke the very verse that is the catalyst for the mission organization that brought us here. She had a vision that we unknowingly fulfilled by being willing and obedient. Two Mzungu. Aaron had tried tirelessly to get a forth to go with us on this trip. He asked several solid people, and I was honestly disappointed when I found out that they couldn’t go. Two weeks before we left, Aaron tells me that he is giving up on finding a forth. I guess that God wants it to be just the three of us. Aaron now washing the feet that brought the Good News to the area 50 years before. The feet that no longer work. How beautiful are the feet that bring the Good News!
Kevin, Aaron, and I talked it over for a while, marveling at what had occurred. We decided that we could not do this justice by a simple Facebook post. There was no way to capture the moment in words without robbing it of its power. So we waited. We decided to each tell the story from our own perspective. Then we would put them together and hopefully capture the great thing that God had done for us on that day. This is what you find on the mission field. Away from the distractions and temptations of your everyday lives. Out where you are relying on God and not yourself.
I don’t know if any of this even makes sense. Some stories you can’t really tell, you have to experience them. Asante sana Yesu for this moment in time. It was exactly the encouragement I needed.
Beautiful are the feet that bring the good news.