I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
“What right had we to tell them that we knew a better way… We knew we must earn that right. We must live with them, love them, try to understand them, and above all, demonstrate to them what we meant by eternal life: a new kind of life, not simply a longer one.” (Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman).
Elizabeth Elliot lived with the Ecuadorian Indians that murdered her husband, and her words stuck in my heart. I was moved to get out of our mission station, and stay with the natives of Zimbabwe. The Lord soon opened an opportunity to visit Pastor Ringo Pio and his family in the bush.
Ringo’s wife, Spiwe, cooked our cornmeal mush and beans. In mid reach for a pot, she flicked a stick further into the fire as deftly as any American homemaker might tweak the knob on her stove. We ate outdoors and talked above the cricket song.
My hosts asked me to join them for evening prayers, then pointed me toward a roofless hut with straw on the floor. They retired to their thatched hut, and I fell asleep to snatches of drum music carried on the breeze.
At first light, Spiwe heated a bucket of water and left me in an open aired enclosure made of grass fence. Like a giraffe, my head poked above the wall as I washed with a chunk of blue soap. It was as refreshing as the shower at a five-star hotel.
On Sunday I preached while Ringo interpreted to a congregation sitting on the flattened savannah grass. God was there. Thirty-four repented and were baptized.
The Lord showed me there is great ministry success through incarnational love. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did for me? He came down, walked in my shoes, then said, “Follow me home.”
Prayer: Sweet Savior, draw my heart into the lives of those who need your love.