On a recent Monday morning we watched a man move to a new city. Standard operating procedure for missions, I suppose. But, as he stood in our doorway, saying farewell, less than an hour after the sun awoke, the scene struck me as far from ordinary.
He stood with a simple backpack, an umbrella, and a coiled up mosquito net ready to hang up in his room before bed that night, once he arrived. After living in Malawi for almost a year, those were his possessions. When I offered him some coffee or a small breakfast, he just smiled wide, and a little bashfully, saying that he was fasting in anticipation of the trip.
So, he stood there, just after dawn, with next to no earthly possessions, and an empty stomach. (I have nightmares about that sort of morning.) And yet, as we exchanged sleepy goodbyes, you could see the twinkle in his eye. The sense of adventure, and maybe some trepidation, beckoning and persuading him to go.
We had a short prayer for his trip, and then he walked away — across the wet lawn, down the dirt driveway, through the big metal gate, and onto the busy morning street. Of the 18 million people in this country, maybe a dozen or so knew why that man was traveling that day.
He would get on a bus, overcrowded and smelling stale, and make the 200 mile journey that takes 6 hours on public transportation. He would stop now and then, meet people, exchange greetings in Chichewa, all the while looking like any other traveler.
But, he wasn’t any other traveler. He was a modern day Abraham, leaving kin and country in a gigantic leap of faith. He doesn’t yet know how the story will unfold. Neither does he know if any of it will be worth it. Yet, he bid us goodbye on an empty stomach with a smile that could stretch across the continent.
And, we who have done the same, exchanged knowing glances for all of the adventure and uncertainty that awaits. Somehow knowing that it’ll be worth it.
Pray for P. Moses Magembe as he begins a new branch church in the southern city of Zomba.