Let me tell you this incredible story.
Lucy is a Tanzanian woman who meets with me and two other ladies three mornings a week for three hours. I feel so blessed to work with her as I learn language and culture here in TZ. She is incredibly encouraging, patient and joyful. You cannot help but smile when you are with her.
The three of us wanted to get her a little something for Christmas. She had mentioned her desire to go home for Christmas (to Moshi, a town hours and hours away by bus), but that the cost was too much for both her and her husband to go. So, of course, we decided just giving her some money to make that trip possible was a great idea.
We all chipped in and wrote her thank you notes in a Christmas card, and on our last day of lessons a week or so before Christmas, presented her with the small gift. She was literally jumping up and down with joy! I think we were all a bit teary as we saw her genuine gratitude for what seems a not all that significant of a gift.
This morning we met again after our Christmas break and immediately asked about her trip.
Lucy's father had invited a Muslim family to join them for Christmas, as well as other family members, and desperately wanted Lucy to come and tell the Christmas story as he was apprehensive and felt ill-equipped to share.
As the family gathered, a woman and her three children were walking by the house and asked boldly if they could come in and have something to eat - they were hungry. Lucy and her family graciously brought them in and fed them. They told the woman that she was welcome to go after eating but was also welcome to stay. She stayed and was able to hear Lucy share the truth about Jesus life, death and resurrection.
God gave this woman the gift of faith, and she believed the words Lucy shared from the Bible! It seems she was not only physically hungry, but spiritually hungry as well.
Lucy's uncle also responded to the message of Jesus Christ and became a believer! She shared that she had been telling him about Jesus for years and years and he always rejected her words and didn't want to hear more. Christmas day, however, the Lord softened his heart. Four days later he died unexpectedly.
A few others that were present have taken Lucy's number and are curious about Christianity and who Jesus is. She eagerly told them to call or message her with questions and she also wrote out things for her Father, so he might be ready to answer questions as well.
Here we thought we were merely learning about Lucy's world and language, but much bigger work was taking place through the power of the Holy Spirit. It's amazing and humbling to think that a small gift enabled Lucy to go home and share the gospel where LIVES WERE CHANGED FOR ETERNITY! Small things can make a huge difference.
It's also inspiring to see Lucy's obedience and boldness. I wonder if I would welcome in a mom and three kids on Christmas day to my family gathering - I might make a few plates of food or give them some money, but invite them to join us for the day? Or would I invite a Muslim family to share in our traditions, food, and fellowship with the hope of sharing about Jesus with them? Holidays typically hold special meaning and involve certain traditions in our families. It's hard when people or situations mess with those plans - and to welcome those 'messy' people and situations into our lives, on CHRISTMAS, is not an easy task. I admire Lucy and her family.
Friends, Lucy is teaching me so much more than just Kiswahili. She embodies compassion, obedience, boldness, passion, and joy. I hope her huge heart and her longing for others to know Jesus rub off on me as much as the correct vocabulary and grammar.
So let's take a moment to say a pray of thanks for Lucy, lift up this mom who accepted Christ on Christmas day, pray for those who have had seeds planted in their hearts and ask God to tune our ears to hear what little things (or big things) we can do that could make a HUGE difference in the Kingdom of God!