The following is a manuscript of the short statement I made during the service last Sunday at Lexington Church of Christ:
I have been to Tanzania. I shook their hands. I swallowed the hot African tea steeped in lemongrass that they served me. I spoke the Chi Makonde word for “pineapple” and heard them laugh. In a Land Cruiser, I bumped down lengths of dirt road with no churches in sight. The call to prayer blared from mosque speakers and woke me in the mornings. I’ve felt the spiritual darkness as I walked by the circumcision ceremonies. And I’ve also been asked to return with the message of life.
I wonder about you. Where are you member of Lexington Church of Christ sitting in these pews in South Carolina? What you think about this? How do you imagine this call that we speak of to Africa? Because it is so far away, if you have never been there. To me, it is a miracle that you should even care.
But I’ve found that you care, Lexington, because God has called you. Just like he called me, he is calling you. He’s called you as a body. I hope he also calls many of you individually to have a heavier heart burden for this work. When he calls you, God will help you understand why we are doing this, because God paid a high price for the nations. In Rev 5:9, the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb and sing a new song with these words “[about Jesus] You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a kingdom of priests for our God. “ God wants the nations so that people who are not giving glory to Him, will give glory to Him. He wants more and more glory for himself. 2 Cor 15, “As God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.”
God has actually let us be part of his great plan of ransoming the nations. He is everything, and we are nothing, but he has let us help him bring glory to Himself. We are, “Fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.” It is clear to us that “the power is of God and not from ourselves.” The question is this: how do we bring glory to Him? What part does God want you to play in this great drama, Lexington Church of Christ?
Pray that you would love the Makonde people. It will be impossible to love a people very different from you that you have never met. But God’s grace will make you capable of a larger kind of love. By his power, you can do this. Then pray that God would help you contend for their souls in prayer. Pray and pray and pray for the Makonde people. Plead that God would send Makonde workers into his mission field. Beg God to do some good work in Makonde land. We are impotent without Him.
Give everything to God. Give him all that he wants. Let go of worldly stuff. If God wants 300 wells in Makonde land, let’s raise money and give him 300 wells. The college group gave money instead of “going out” on Friday night, and raised enough to buy parts for the water well that we are digging outside this window. What an example to all of us. Giving is nothing if it does not involve sacrifice. We sacrifice so that others might live! By doing this we emulate the life of Christ, and this brings glory to God.
Be open to the option of visiting us. Invest in the Makonde. We want you to build a relationship with them that will last way beyond us. Get ready for the Makonde to begin praying for you.
Be patient with us. We are weak. We are sinful. We will take a long time to learn language. The language learning process may take many years. Please continue to pray. This process will be the ultimate exercise in “delayed gratification” for us, and for our sending churches. The fruit will not come for many years. There will be no fireworks. Please hang in there with us, and be faithful to the commitments you made to God. Continue to pray. Remember this day and what God has done.
We are so blessed to be a part of God’s work. God help us bring you glory. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”