Imagine going off the edge of the map with no money, no extra clothes, and no plan except listening to and following Holy Spirit. Then imagine Him putting together the most amazing cultural experience of your life. That’s a faith journey.
In Luke 9 and 10, we find Jesus sending out his disciples in a way like never before. “He told them: ‘Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.'” He invites them to a unique exercise of faith as they spread the Good News of the Kingdom, depending solely on the Father to provide… And on three warm African January days, these very words leapt off the pages as Scripture wrote the script of my story.
Our faith journey’s time landed during a weeklong trip to a rugged, mountainous region of the country with a couple of young church plants. Our leader suggested we use visit to a brand new local church as a launching point for our faith journey. We all agreed, and we interpreted the Words of Jesus as literally as possible. Suiting up, we took no extra clothes, no food, no extra water, no toothbrushes–not even any sunblock or toilet paper. I brought a backpack to put our Bibles in, and the others brought the Jesus Film field backpack as well as a guitar.
We then rode far into the African bush to hold a service at a community with a baby church barely a month old. We met under a tree as warrior men and women dressed in colorful traditional neck discs slowly arrived. Then followed a rousing message from our leader, punctuated with a capella call-and-response Christian songs in the local dialect, and many locals asked for prayer for salvation, rededication, and healing.
The rest of the group left except the 4 on our team and a local pastor friend, Shambach, acting as a translator. He suggested we stay around with the current tribe and try to stay the night with them, rather than hiking 10 miles to the nearest other tribe. We liked the idea, so we agreed. Still, with the temperate day drawing to a close and the sun lying low, our first two problems manifested. How would we get a place to stay the night, and where would our next drop of drinkable water come from?
We went followed some locals to a nearby watering hole. A woman squatted at the bottom with a pitcher in her hand, scooping muddy water and tossing is out the top. You can imagine the way our faces cringed. We stood awkwardly watching like cattle until Devin suggested, “Well, we’ve got a crowd gathered … Why don’t we preach?” I agreed, and before long, Aubrie had skillfully explained the Good News of the cross, I had given an invitation, and several had been prayed with to receive salvation and physical healing. Devin was offered some of the water from the hole, and with a prayer and a leap of faith, he tried a sip. We all followed suit, and the Lord, true to His word, kept us from all waterborne sickness. Perhaps another miracle had occurred.
In Luke 10:5-7, Jesus says, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace [or, “a man of peace,”] is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
As we wrapped up the time of watering hole ministry, little raindrops began pattering on my head. Before I knew it, we had received an invite to stay the night, one where boiled water was being prepared for us! I later learned, in this culture, when it rains, visitors must always be offered a place to stay. Thank God for the rain!
After a lengthy walk through the bush, we arrived at a small community of several manyatas, which are mud-packed, straw-topped huts. They were owned by one village elder and his several wives. We were hospitably seated on cowhides and given generous portions of chai and milk tea, beans and rice, ugali (their grits-cake), and a chicken, which they slaughtered that night for us. We spoke with Shambach, the pastor, Peter, who is another village elder, and Samuel, the one young man from the village who is able to speak and read English. We laughed and spoke about culture and listened intently as Peter spoke about his recent rebirth in Christ. Shambach told me how the people of Pokot, even as recently as 15 years ago, protested the government building roads through their lands, for fear roads would bring enemies, and that Pokot people, when asked their names, would give false names to outsiders, for fear of revealing their identity. I was then astounded that the people exhibited such extraordinary openness to us.
We were shown to our rooms. The girls stayed in a manyata on a packed-mud bed which felt like concrete. The guys slept in a separate manyata on a stick-frame bed covered in stiff cowhide. Exhaustion was our ally as he ushered into deep sleep, despite our austere accommodations. Who knows what the next day would bring? In my entire life, I’ve never seen anything like what I saw.