07/16/2024
Spread the love

by Van Yandell

Romans 12:5 “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

Matthew 18:20  “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Muthini church sat on a hill overlooking the Sagana River. We were about 90 miles north of Nairobi Kenya, East Africa. Working the local villages with the gospel through the week, on Sunday we attended church as would be expected.

The church seat was a log. There were no padded seats or backs of beautiful colors. The surface was cut smooth, probably with an axe or draw knife. I sat on the end of the third log back and absorbed the Holy Spirit, powerful and reassuring.

The framing of the structure was poles cut from a local jungle. Siding was made from corrugated metal from a burnt-out building, probably in Embu or Kerugoya or one of the other towns nearby. When the builders ran short of metal, they finished the other wall with interwoven sticks plastered with mud.

The dirt floor showed tracks of small animals. Since there were no doors or windows, animals came and went as they pleased. A lizard walked past me; he stopped and stared. About sixteen inches long, I’m guessing I was the first white man he had ever seen.

The roof was made of poles and covered with palm tree fronds. The fronds dry like leather and usually last several seasons.

I can’t help but wonder how many Americans would attend church if the building was like the one at Muthini? Without a brick building, padded pews and an orchestra with a choir, it might be difficult for some to worship.

I was asked to speak, and my subject was Acts 9: 15.  “The Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel’.”

Paul was God’s chosen vessel; and so are we. Jesus’ last commandment to the disciples (that’s all Christians) was, “Go ye therefore and preach this Gospel to all nations baptizing them in the name of the father son and the Holy Ghost.”

Matthew 28: 19 provides us with a privilege many people will never realize or understand. To be a chosen vessel is a blessing and the people of Muthini are as called as anyone in multi-million-dollar buildings around the world.

Regardless of the building in which we are worshiping, any soul won to our precious Jesus is just as important as any Peter, Paul or John converted 2000 years ago.

I’ve felt like a chosen vessel. Numerous times I’ve asked myself, “How did I end up here?” Being thankful and blessed to be in such a place as Muthini with God’s people is indeed a privilege few may ever experience.

Mission work often takes us to “The uttermost parts,” (Acts 1: 8). Truly, some of my most thankful for and most memorable experiences have been in the uttermost and I would not trade those for all the tea in China!

The congregation that day was about twenty people. Some had walked miles to be there, and a few brought their own seat. Many had walked miles barefoot in the sandy soil and over the years the abrasion of the sand had worn away part of their toes. To see an adult with toenails was rare.

When the offering was taken, a large hand carved wooden bowl was passed, and a few schillings were thrown in, but the main offerings were ears of corn and other shamba (garden) vegetables. A head of cabbage provided the most weight and volume.

I had noticed the shambas and realized how rich the soil had to be. The growth of vegetables was accelerated by the equatorial climate. Heads of cabbage were as big as basketballs and anything that grew underground was enormous.

Crops such as sweet potatoes, turnips or cassava grew abundantly.  A villager I talked to insisted on introducing me to his cow. She produced milk and with the diet of abundant plant growth produced tremendous amounts of fertilizer for his shamba.

To place food products in an offering bowl was as treasured as any monetary offering.

I knew to speak in short sentences. Having worked with an interpreter several times before, a fifteen-minute sermon would be thirty minutes. The only problem was the translator talked several minutes to explain what I’d said in one sentence.

A fact we should always emphasize is that we are all “chosen vessels.” Jesus didn’t suffer and die on the cross to save us then sit back on our blessed assurances and watch others reap all the blessings.

Ephesians 2: 8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”

Paul made it very clear we do not have eternal salvation by anything we do but by what Jesus did on the cross. But then in verse ten, he makes it very clear we are to do “good works.”

Becoming a Christian is instantaneous by belief (John 3: 16) but being a Christian is a continuous work in progress. I am now in my elder years but find it no less compelling to reach non-Christians for Jesus than I did forty years ago.

When we left places like Muthini church, a statement often made was, “If I do not see you again here on earth, I’ll see you in Heaven.” Every time that was said to me, a feeling came that I can only say was indescribable. To know Christ Jesus suffered and died on the cross of Calvary for the remission of sin and was resurrected, presents an emotion many in the world never experience.

The memories of Muthini, Lakoni, Zina Lagombe, Utange and Kua Munu are etched in my mind forever. And those beautiful people and the love of God they exemplified will live in me always.

Van Yandell is a retired Industrial Arts teacher, an ordained gospel evangelist and commissioned missionary. A part of the Bible Connection series.

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