Towards the end of my second trip to Tanzania in 2012, I was privileged to visit the home of Pastor Damson’s parents. (Damson was my interpreter.) Thomas and Bathseba live on Ukelewe Island, located in Lake Victoria about three hours by ferry from Mwanza. While we were there, Damson showed me the corner of his bedroom where he had knelt in prayer, asking the Lord for something important in his life. What he shared with me inspired me to do the same. It was there that I dared to begin formulating a dream of my own. Later that afternoon, I knelt alone in that same spot to present my own special request to the Lord.
“Lord, someday I would like to bring my family here, to this same place. I do not see how it is possible, for we do not have the resources. But I would really like to share this place and these people with my family. And so, if it be your will, please make it happen somehow.”
It seemed to be a huge prayer of faith for me, for I literally could not imagine how it was possible. I felt rather foolish even asking the Lord for this. Even to speak the prayer seemed rather presumptuous on my part. But, I thought, why not ask and see what the Lord does? Who knows – maybe a miracle will take place.
I am pleased to share that we do serve a loving, merciful God of miracles! A little more than one year later, I took the ferry out to Ukelewe Island again – this time with my wife and four of our children! What a joy it was to visit my dear friends as a family and to explore the island together. I shared with everyone why this place had a special meaning to me; for it was here that God had heard my private prayer and had granted my request.
While we were enjoying the wonderful hospitality of Damson’s parents, I had an interesting conversation with Thomas. He was asking me about my life in America, and among other things I mentioned that my eighty year old mother was living with us.
He stopped a moment, then asked, “How many siblings did you say that you have?”
“I have eight brothers and sisters,” I replied, “but two of them are not living, so I have six living siblings.”
“Were you the only she could live with, or did she choose to live with you?”
“It was her choice. She could have lived with any of my siblings, but she chose to come live with us.”
“Oh,” said Thomas shaking his head thoughtfully, “You're so lucky!”
Wow! I thought to myself, this attitude towards the elderly is so different from the common attitude I see in America. Thomas is not the first African I met who viewed caring for one’s elderly parents as a privilege. I had also met a pastor whose wife was caring for his 103 year old bedfast mother. He told me that they considered it a joy and an honor to have his mother in his home. From what I understand, Africans value the elderly in their families and in society. I think we could learn something from this attitude of respect towards one’s elderly relatives.
Yes indeed, Thomas, I am a “lucky” man; with the kind of luck that finds its origin in a Heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.
May the peace of Christ be with you,