~ by Melvin Bray
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation
The kingdom of God is like unto a South African Dutch missionary who went deep into the bush and served God faithfully for 20 years. He was fed up with the apartheid of his homeland, saw little hope of
bringing it to an end, and refused to be in collusion with it any longer. So he went to share Good News with Africans outside of his country, determined to treat them as his brothers and sisters.
The missionary achieved notable success in his endeavors, so much so that he was asked to write a memoir as a teaching tool for other missionaries. Because of the remoteness of his location, mail only came and went every 6 months. Notwithstanding, he faithfully wrote everyday.
When the next mail arrived after he had sent his initial submission, he was eager to hear what his supervisor thought. Exchanging mail with the courier, he immediately spotted the package from his supervisor. It was large. Opening it with sweaty hands, he saw that she had read his draft with eagerness and she praised his courage living amongst the bush people. Two incidents in particular stood out to her. One was the missionary’s “need” (she wrote, quoting him) to expel the local “witch-doctor before the message of Christ could really take root in the hearts of the tribe’s people.” The second was the showdown the missionary had with a Muslim tradesman who had begun to make converts to Islam on his regular visits to the village.
The South African Dutchman’s supervisor then made what she called “a strange request.” She wanted him to read up on certain major world events that had taken place since the beginning of his missionary endeavors. She listed the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the war in Rwanda, 9-11 in the US, the great Pacific Ocean tsunami, the Sudan conflict, and Hurricane Katrina. To this end she enclosed a gift, “probably the most significant change that had taken place in the industrialized world since his departure: a laptop computer with a mobile broadband card and satellite signal booster.” He didn’t know what any of those words meant, but her instructions were clear enough that he eventually got the equipment to work, and he began his research on what his supervisor called “the Internet.”
The missionary did not write much during the next six months because of his research. Much more had taken place during the previous 20 years than his supervisor’s list suggested, but her list was a great
start. Many nights he read and read. His little generator required increasing fuel to serve his growing appetite for world events. The world had evolved in dramatic ways since he had come to the bush where time stands still.
By the time his supervisor’s next letter arrived six months later, he was a changed man. Thus, her next request did not come as much of a shock as it would have, had it come a year earlier. She gave the South African Dutch missionary an assignment. She wanted him to track down the medicine man he had ostracized 19 years earlier to seek his forgiveness for the way he had been treated and to ask permission to spend a month learning from him. Under no circumstances was he to attempt to convert or teach the medicine man religion or anything else. He could participate in conversation if questions were asked of him, but not as one self-assured. His task was primarily to observe and to listen. After that he was to seek the Muslim merchant he had interdicted from trading with his parishioners, and do the same. Then write about it. And he did.
To be continued . . .
Melvin Bray is a grateful husband and a proud father, living and
working in Atlanta, GA, with his wife, Leslie
and 3 kids. He is a
learner, teacher, writer, storyteller, lover of people, connoisseur of
creativity, believer in possibilities, director of a US Dream Academy
learning center and founder of Kid Cultivators.
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