In the spirit of Pentecost and the commission of Christ to the Apostles to go and preach to all nations, I have been reading an interesting book about the experiences of some young people during their mission trips to Kenya. The book is called Kenya: Stories from the Mission Field, published by St. Shenouda Press. The book is made up of short stories written by the young people who served in Kenya and focuses on the amazing work that God is doing in the hearts of many young people through mission work.
All of the stories that were collected in this book were inspired by life-changing experiences that happened to these missionaries while serving. I think the most common experience that runs through all the stories is that, before going to Kenya, they all felt that they were going to serve the people of Kenya and lead Bible studies and youth events, etc. But they were all shocked that, when they returned home, they realized they were the ones being served, not the Kenyan people.
Doing house visitations and preaching in street corners and maximum-security prison, you quickly realize the state of poverty in which the people live. Their houses are very simple, with a small fraction of what we own in the West. Yet without hesitation, they are happy to offer anyone the little they have. This poverty did not make them bitter about God—on the contrary. They were so thirsty to hear God’s word. The servants were received as if God himself came to their house.
Reading the Bible with them and sharing the message of the gospel made it seem as if God was really speaking to these people through His servants. Every time they share a message with a person or a group of people, they later tell them, “I really needed to hear this today.” And they tell them the story behind it. For the servants themselves, the Bible came to life.
Reading the Bible and observing quiet time every morning, the servants would see how the Bible verse they read in the morning could be applied to their day in service. One of the stories recounts:
“Our Priest told us on our first day of arrival that we shouldn’t leave if we hadn’t heard the voice of God on a daily basis. I was a little bit worried when he said this in full seriousness, as I know that God always speaks to us in a still small voice that regularly goes unheard. However it seemed that in Africa God was screaming to us through a megaphone, almost impossible to miss.”
There is a miracle in every story in this book. When the bishop was asked if it was normal to see miracles, he replied, “If we went one day without seeing a miracle, that meant something was wrong.”
But for me the biggest miracle of all is the changed lives that the servants experienced while “serving” or rather being served by these people. I certainly encourage every young person not only to read the book but to go on a mission trip and have these experiences for themselves.
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