Summary: This is a short story about one man’s experience with the risen Christ.
Jesus is alive! This is a story of one man’s encounter with His risen Lord.
As Ed contemplated a short-term evangelistic mission trip to Kenya, Africa it clearly seemed to be God’s will. For some time he had a vision to lead the church he pastors to a deeper commitment to international missions. They dreamed one day they would see both career missionaries and short term volunteers flowing out from the church in a steady steam of world evangelization. Knowing that the pastor sets the standard and leads the way, Ed felt compelled to go. There was a sense of rightness about the trip.
Kenya held other attractions. Members of the church, the Neelys, are serving there as missionaries. This trip would provide a rare opportunity to visit them on the field. Also, having just finished an arduous building program Kenya held out the possibility of being away from it all. The promise of having time to reflect and pray and preach filled Ed’s heart with excitement and high expectations.
Little did Ed know that when the airplane touched down in Mombassa and taxied down the runway expectation was on a collision course with reality. Stepping off the plane and walking to the bus the stiffling heat and humidity immediately took their toll. Looking around the airport, Ed could immediately see the dirty conditions he had just stepped in to.
But it was on the bus ride from Mombassa to Melindi that it became apparent to Ed that this wasn’t going to be the trip he expected. It was not that he expected Kenya to be like Oklahoma. Even so, as he again relaized, what we imagine with our mind rarely coresponds to reality. As the bus passed down the narrow streets of the city he watched the masses of people walking everywhere, small booths lined the streets with merchants selling food, sandals, t-shirts, and wood carvings. The smell of burning garbage and dust lingered in the air and the horns of the vehicles pushing their way through the streets flooded his ears. The stares of the people they passed were a constant reminder that he was a white man in a black man’s land. Every sense seemed to be overwhelmed by input from this new environment and a deep foreboding and dread settled squarely on his heart.
Ed was teamed up with the Maziwaini Baptist Church. The pastor’s home was a small mud hut with another small hut nearby for some goats and posts scattered about where he tied up his milk cows he raised to make a living. There was no running water, no electricity. Dirt floors and a grass roof were the standard. The poverty and filth were staggering.
Every day Ed would make his way through the villages near the church and tell the people the story of how he became a Christian and he would then explain the message of the gospel of Christ. This was a part of what he was supposed to do and he was doing it out of a sense of obligation and with an eye toward going home as soon as possible.
On the third day of this endeavor after returning to his hotel room Ed found himself alone and took the opportunity to be honest with God about how he felt.
“I don’t like it here,” he confessed. “I don’t want to be here. I hate this and I’m miserable. I know that I can’t help but to be here right now, but I want to go home.”
That next day, Wednesday, he was back out in the villages going through the motions of telling his testimony and talking about salvation. That day Ed, the pastor and the interpreter approached a small hut in a grassy meadow and found an older woman working outside. After receiving permission to visit, they gathered up some blocks of wood and small chairs and sat under a lean-to for some shade and Ed began to go through his testimony again. The woman listened intently as Ed told her how he became a Christian and then he began to tell the story of Jesus.
“God loves you and wants you to be with Him in heaven when you die,” he said. “But you are a sinner and our sin separates us from God. So God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world and He died on a cross for us. He died for our sins in our place. After Jesus died they placed His body in a tomb.”
He continued, “And three days later He came back to life.”
And with those words, “three days later he came back to life,” suddenly the presence of Jesus became real to Ed. It was not something he had prayed for, or sought. But Jesus was there outside that mud and dung hut near Melindi, Africa. The only thing He did not do was physically materialize. The presence of Jesus so swept over Ed in that moment that he could not move forward to say anything else.