Important Preamble! (If you have already read this, you can skip down to the story)
We love the precious people the Lord has placed in our lives in Africa. We have been very blessed by watching them learn and grow and train others. Most of you know this, but the reality of how cultures function is quite different than what you have thought—cultures are very different from each other. These cultural differences create humorous (Some of them were not humorous at the time but are now!) anecdotes. We have compiled some of these into a series of short stories that we are posting. As you read these and imagine the scenarios we have experienced, laugh with us at what we experienced. We are not making fun of anyone, but are laughing at ourselves and the differences between cultures. Maybe a story will help you understand better the reality of how other people live. You should not feel guilty about this because the Lord God placed you where you are. At the same time, we should all be aware that what we experience in America may not be as difficult as what most people in the world experience every day. Enjoy.
Don't Chase the Kids Away!
Ann and I were leading workshops for pastors and children’s ministry workers in a refugee camp in Tanzania, near the border with Burundi. Because there are rarely any white people in this refugee camp, we were a huge attraction for the children. As we trained in this mud brick church building, many children would fill every small window and the doorway. They were not bothering us, but were curious. Ann was training teachers the first day, when one of the children’s ministry workers got up, ran outside and yelled at the kids to get away. Ann and I looked at each other with shock. That evening, on the way to the Guest House, we spoke with our translator, Pastor Theos, and told him that the next time the kids showed up, we were going to stop training inside and were going to go outside to minister to the kids instead of chasing them away. There were no kids the next day so we trained and prayed. The third day, there were fifteen kids waiting for us when we arrived. We instructed Pastor Theos to go inside the church building and get the children’s ministry workers and to bring them out. Pastor Theos gathered the children in a semi-circle and began to share the gospel using the ‘Wordless Book’ or the ‘Color Gospel’ as we sometimes call it. More and more children came. Pastor Theos shared the gospel twice, and then he invited an older child to share the gospel they had just heard with all the children again. Then Pastor Theos gathered the children into a large circle and he led 28 children in a prayer of salvation. We blessed the children. Then, we went back inside and debriefed with the teachers who had been watching this take place. This was our message to them: Don’t chase the kids away! Stop what you are doing and share the love of Jesus with these precious children!