Glop, glop. I step out of the car; now I’m stuck. The grimy mud attempts to invade my stubborn boots. Luckily, I’m prepared. My feet are dry, I escape, and best of all, my booted feet are kissing Kenyan soil. We made a three-hour journey from Nairobi, Kenya, to get here, a small village near the Aberdare Mountains.
People sit on benches by little buildings while the pastor speaks as part of a two-week evangelistic series. My friend leads me to an empty bench, and I sit for a moment, wondering what to do next. God, I’m ready for Your mission. Surprise me!
“Jambo, our dear sister; I’m glad you came.” Moses greets me. “During our revivals in Kenya, we feel a great need to greet the wonderful people who attend our meetings. Get to know their names, their stories. Follow my lead; come with me, sister.” Nervously I follow.
“Jambo,” I greet and shake the hand of a young woman wearing a floral patterned head scarf. I feel welcome right away. I make my way down the row of people. Halfway through, I see a man standing in the doorway between two shacks.
“Jambo,” I announce excitedly.
“Hello,” he answers.
Wow, he speaks English! “What’s your name?”
“Karanja,” he replies, fidgeting with his clothes. He wears a faded red T-shirt and torn jeans.
“My name’s Cassi. Are you enjoying this week’s talks?”
“I live right there.” He points to a small door behind the shack. “I hear it sometimes, and I come out.” He avoids the specific question.
“That’s good. I hope you keep coming. It’s nice to meet you!” I shake his hand again.
God Is Working
A couple days later I’m walking down the road with my Bible partner, Peter. We’ve had visits all morning, and on our way to the next house we run into Karanja. We excitedly exchange hellos.
“We’re visiting people in the village,” says Peter. “Have you thought about our message?”
“Brother, I’m not sure I understand all you teach,” says Karanja. “I believe the Sabbath is truth, but it’s hard to believe I can be saved. . . . I don’t know if there’s hope for me.”
God gives me a glimpse into Karanja’s heart. I can tell he wants to accept the message, but he is hestitating. I’m not sure what I can do to help, but I know how he feels. I share my story with Karanja. Then Karanja shares his.
“I came here because I lost the woman I loved,” Karanja confides. “I didn’t have enough money to take her as my wife and provide for her. She’d been promised to another man with more to offer. . . . It’s painful to lose the one you love.”
We pray with Karanja and invite him to come on Friday, when many will make the decision to be baptized.
On Friday morning, I make my way to the little house filled with university students and pastors. We sing songs in Swahili. I can’t understand the words, but I feel the power behind them.
Next we list the people who have decided to get baptized and the ones who are still thinking about it. I mention Karanja, and say that I’m going to ask for his final answer today. We pray for a long time, joining hands, and sing more songs.
Peter and I walk to Karanja’s shack; he isn’t there so we start back. We see him bicycling down the road our way.
“Jambo, jambo. Sorry I’m late.”
“That’s OK, brother,” Peter encourages. “We’ve come, as you know, to see what you think about our offer to be baptized and join our family in Christ.”
“I don’t know if I can,” says Karanja.“I don’t know if I can stop some of my habits, I don’t know if I can be good enough. I’m not sure what others will think.”
Tears well up in my eyes. I feel the tug of the Holy Spirit. I try to hold back the tears, but they start to flow as two rivers down my face and chin. I can’t stop. This man feels as though he can’t be saved because he’s not good enough. I understand that feeling.
Before I got baptized, I doubted myself. Even now I struggle because I’m so slow to learn the Bible. But God is our strength. All He wants is our life, our friendship, our heart.
His eyes filling with tears, Karanja looks at me. “I’ll be OK.”
“Sorry for crying. I can’t help it,” I stutter between sniffles.
Karanja takes my hand and comforts me. He’s shaking and trembling; tears pour down his weathered face, a face that is now relaxed with peace.
“Your tears have shown me the love of God,” he says. “That He would send someone from across the world so I could know Him and be in heaven—I want to do it; I want to be baptized. Thank you for your tears of healing.”
Peter comforts him, and we join in prayer.
I open my eyes to see the hope on Karanja’s face. It is hope that God loves him and accepts him as he is.
—This article is adapted from Cassi Meelhuysen’s Tears of Healing,” from pages 26-27 of the March 26, 2015, Adventist Review.
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