It was the last night in TZ and the team was heading back from Safari. It was a four-hour trip and we were all very tired. Halfway back, there was a traffic jam in Arusha so our guide decided to go the back roads to Moshi. The back road was Nelson Mandela Highway. It was a road sometimes paved, most times not. We passed the Nelson Mandela University. Very middle-class area in TZ, I thought.
And then he made a left-hand turn and the scenery changed. In an instant, we were on a small dirt road in the middle of a remote village. I grabbed my camera but just as I did I heard the Holy Ghost tell me to take no pictures so I put the camera down. Oh my, people everywhere, dressed every way, animals everywhere. No cars except those trying to get through. Thatch roofs and mud houses. We got about halfway through the village and a young girl was standing on a bridge yelling and pointing at us. She was mad and they said trying to put curses on us. We rolled by on that dirt road leaving clouds of dust and a group of people covered by it – breathing it unavoidable.
And with that realization, it started – the tears. I started crying. Weeping at first but then it turned into streams of tears and didn’t stop until we arrived in Moshi. Believe me…I tried to stop. Believe me…I felt like I was causing discomfort in the van and so I tried. But the Spirit of the Lord had fallen on me and what He allowed me to see on those streets even through my tears and what He allowed me to see of my own soul overwhelmed my heart.
Maybe the love of Jesus starts by not thinking our own dust is more precious than others very lives. Having some respect and love for who they are even if they exist with just the clothes on their back, a goat or two and even if we know they worship a false god. Having some respect and love even if they hate us. Having some respect and love most especially if we are just passing through. I am not sure an unreached people can be reached for the Lord by westerners (missionaries or not) who care more about their own dust (time and their own physical conditions) more than relationships built on love and respect. That takes time and while it can be dusty and dirty is never that intentionally.
One of my thoughts as we rolled through – How can those Tanzanian villagers do so much with so little? How can we Americans do so little with so much? The point of my even writing this down is for my own remembrance, as I have no pictures to show of it. Most people will never see this or care what I write in this blog. I keep my writing fairly private…but I also write it to say this…
LOVE your neighbor…and sometimes that looks like just slowing down.