During our lives, we often meet interesting and unique people, and there are many lessons that we can learn from the lives and examples of those whom we meet. Edward is one of those people.
Edward is a very interesting character. His incredibly long dreadlocks might make you think he is from Jamaica. In fact, he was born in Tanzania, but lived in Kenya for many years, and even spent some time teaching art and carving in Canada. He speaks very good English, as well as several other languages and a number of dialects. He is easy-going and has a good sense of humor. He has a dog (which is unusual in Africa) named Simba, which means “lion” in Swahili. He has a love of and concern for children, and especially for orphans. He is a faithful member of one of the congregations of the Tanzanian Church of the Lutheran Confession. But all of this fails to truly describe Edward.
Most important of all, Edward has a love for his Savior Jesus Christ. It was this love that motivated Edward years ago to donate part of his land to the Lord’s work. He wanted a church to be built; and little by little, it was. But Edward has bigger plans. The church only takes up a part of the land he has given. He also wants his land to host a school—not just any school, but a school for orphans.
“This isn’t my land,” he said. “It’s God’s. He has just loaned it to me while I’m here.” The least he could do, he felt, was to give part of it back to the Lord for the work of His kingdom. And so he has.
Edward reminded me of a truth I have learned, but often forget: “It’s not mine, it’s God’s!” Think about it—that is true about everything we have. The car I drive, the home I live in, the money I have in the bank, the gifts and abilities I have been given, even the children I care for. They aren’t mine; they are God’s. He has just loaned them to me for the time being. Edward was motivated by his Savior’s love for him to use what was the Lord’s for His kingdom, and for the future instruction of young children in the truths of God’s Word. What could be more important or more valuable than that?
How easy it is to forget all that God has done for us, and to lose sight of why we are here and why God has blessed us with all that we have. Edward’s words and actions are a valuable reminder and wonderful example for us all. Jesus came to serve us, by laying down His life for us. Like Edward, we are witnesses of that redemption won for all by our Savior.
Nathanael Mayhew is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, and a member of the Board of Missions of the CLC.