Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned 1 Timothy 1:5
I had been mulling for three days over whether to write a post based on this scripture, but it was finally decided for me today by my daughter, Keren. Keren, incidentally, will be celebrating her 18th birthday tomorrow, the 4th of June, and I find it so fitting and exciting that just when my family is celebrating this very important milestone in my daughter’s life, I should be writing a post on something that she has directly contributed to.
Many of my readers are not aware, of course, but right now I am overseeing a small church that we started some 5 months ago in a remote town called Singida. The place is so rural that, for the first time since my childhood years, I have been hearing hyenas howling in the night, and that in the very hills that I sometimes go for my quiet time during the daytime.
Those hyenas have put a whole new perspective to the prospects of some night vigils I had planned on spending in those hills! But probably one day I still will.
And it is not only that, but you can walk a few hundred metres out of town and suddenly you could well be deep in the Kalahari!
But the people here are extremely lovable. I have in my church here the most wonderful people that I have ever met. People naturally ask me how many people there are in my church. I tell them we are over ten thousand. This is because you cannot quantify a heart, and I have met people whose hearts are worth more than any number of people!
Two of my four denominational leaders also come from this region and, while considering it an unparalleled privilege that these great men of God should choose me to come and oversee their home turf church, this fact also testifies to a widely-held belief in our country that this region has the most God-loving people in our country. Many, though, have turned to Islam and there are villages where the entire population is Muslim.
Singida is some 700 km from Dar es Salaam, where my family lives. Now, that’s no mean distance, and it is not like I can drop down to ‘DSM’ every weekend to see my family. Nonetheless, we do keep in touch through phone calls and the occasional trip to see them.
This morning I woke up and, as I regularly do, I called Keren on the phone and we had a long chat punctuated with jokes, jabs and guffaws peculiar only to members of my family (These are things that would turn everyone else off, so don’t ask about any of it!)
Later on she wrote me a message. It said, “You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love… Love you Daddy!”
Now, Keren is quite proficient in the English language and I had no reason to doubt that she could pull off a sentence like that. But, although she and I speak “Bible” quite a lot, I had never experienced her go to such depths of spiritual expression. In fact, even though she and I are pretty close, I am more than a little disappointed with her level of “spirituality”. Just last Sunday I called her at 7:30 a.m. and she was still in bed! She has never missed church, thank God, but invariably it appears every church service she has attended she has had to be ‘reminded’ to prepare to go! That is not the case with Joe, her younger brother, who loves the Lord with profound enthusiasm.
(But, to be fair, Keren has one of the biggest hearts that I have ever seen).
So when I received this message from Keren this morning, I was not a little surprised – and very touched. I immediately knew then that I had to write this post which, as I said, I had had it on my heart for some days to do, but I was undecided whether to or not.
It is a milestone post, celebrating my daughter Keren’s 18th birthday. Love you, too, girl! And a happy birthday!
[Below: Keren at 18]