Never say never, to God!
The things that I’ve said never to are the things I’ve done.
In my twenties I vowed I would never give up my promiscuous playboy life style.
God then kept me as a nine-year celibate till He brought my wife Mary.
Or after leaving Miami, Florida, in the 90’s I vowed never to go back.
I did not like Miami’s lack of seasons, insane Cuban/ Venezuelan drivers, and its mundane “concrete jungle” image. Now we are back, pastoring.
I said that I would never go to Africa. Not only have we gone there for seven years, we lived in Africa, and love going back.
So this is another saga in the “never say never” land.
We are not your common missionaries travelling overseas to help with the construction of homes or wells. We are Bible teachers. In Kenya, for example, we’d spend three weeks on a Bible conference whirlwind tour to three or four locales.
So many preachers go to the big cities, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Nakuru, where the offerings are big. Few, go to the rural towns where honorariums are corn, eggs and a goat. Or where there are no toilets, running water, or electricity.
But this is where we felt led to go. Who will teach these precious ones God’s Word? I’m so glad that God sends us to where few go.
So here we were at Ugunja, Kenya, close to Lake Victoria and Kogelo, Mr. Obama’s Kenyan hometown.
We were staying at Pastor Elias Onduas.
This man of God oversees forty churches in Kenya, and yet lives in Ugunja’s abject poverty. His hut is three miles from greater Ugunja, the site of our Bible conferences.
Every morning we’d eat breakfast, and shower and shave enfolded in nature’s sounds.
With an attaché case full of Greek and Hebrew reference books we’d walk nearly two miles through trees and dusty paths to the highway. Once there, Elias would flag down the fourteen seater Toyota minivan called a matatu. If eleven people were on board we could squeeze in, if not, we’d have to wait for the next one to zoom by us.
Sometimes, the larger bus would also swing by. If it was not packed we’d get on.
The only other transport is the infamous bicycle taxis, the Boda Boda’s.
The Boda Boda, is a bicycle with a modified basket or extension suitable for one passenger.
They were commandeered by young, tall, slender Kenyan guys.
On occasions when it seemed that only crammed buses whirred by us, Elias would suggest, “Let’s take the Boda Boda into town.”
I’d smugly reply, anger coursing up my veins, “ There is no way I will take the Boda Boda. I will never get on a Boda Boda.”
I would be a fat American white ( mzungu) preacher, with a bag full of books, long sleeve shirt and tie, riding on the back of a Boda Boda!
Can these skinny guys hoist me up the Ugunjan hills for the next two miles?
What if I fall?
Are the Kenyans going to laugh at me? “Look at the fat mzungu on the Boda Boda!”
“ No Pastor Elias, I will never take the Boda Boda”, I cynically reassured him.
The next morning back we were on the highway’s edge. Matatu after matatu crammed with folk like sardines whooshed by us.
“Let’s walk to Ugunja, Pastor Elias”; Anything but the Boda Boda, I thought.
The walk was long and hot. Vehicles whizzed by us kicking rocks and dust in our faces. At our pace we’d get to the conference late.
“Well, are you going to humble yourself and take the Boda Boda?” the Holy Spirit asked me.
“Alright Pastor Elias”, I blabbered loudly; “Get the Boda Boda!”
After being helped unto the basket, I was astounded at how this skinny Kenyan bicycled me effortlessly up to my hilly destination.
By gosh, it was the most enjoyable trip of my life time!
From then on I’d ride on Boda Bodas when possible.
I learned to dance the Boda Boda in never never land.
Mary and Pastor Elias with the boda bodas
The highway buses that you pray have space for you.
My beloved Mary, always so full of child like faith, on the boda boda