Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22)
“We are being knit together in love.” (Colossians 2:2)
I am often asked “How can God allow His people to suffer in the severe poverty and persecution that ACrossMission has been called to minister in?
Our response is often “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.” We don’t have the whole picture; and we don’t know how this all works out. Yet we know this - in this fallen, broken, and unjust world God is working, and we know what He has called us to do.
ACrossMission is one movement of the Holy Spirit that is knitting and stitching together the Church as we walk together in God’s Mission among His people. As Christians, we are people who have surrendered all that we are - our hearts, our minds, our souls, our bodies, our lives to Jesus. Christians are those few who are sent by the Lord of the harvest into His harvest. (Matthew 9)
In January 2014, I was standing on a street corner in downtown Toronto.
A young woman came up beside me. A song was blasting from her headphones:
If we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
I was standing in front of the Church of the Redeemer on Bloor St.
As I stood on that street corner in Toronto, again I was stunned and perplexed. I asked God: If we are the Body, how can this be?
The morning I left Tanzania I prayed with my dear friend, the Rev. Cn. Ezekiel Hami.
We prayed that God would guide us and show us His Way. He told me his brother pastors did not want luxury, just some little bit to allow them and their families to survive in the ministry God had given them. Ezekiel may not have known it then – but in that moment the idea, the inspiration for ACrossMission was given. An inspiration that would eventually lead to more than 30 supported pastors in the Mara Region.
As I climbed into the Land Cruiser, Ezekiel asked me: “Will you remember us?”
So many westerners had come and gone; they had made promises never to be heard from again.
“The pastors need encouragement” he said “they need your prayers. How will they continue to preach the Gospel? They are hungry and sick. Will you remember them?”
God has a job for each of us. Paul tells us this - some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers – some are on the frontlines some are on the supply-lines – some are going and others sending - God has a job for each of us.
In January 2014, as I was standing on that street corner in downtown Toronto, God took me, and He shook my worldview and He inspired the creation of ACrossMission.
That day I cried out to God, “How can this be?” Now, I can only imagine that He looked back at me, perhaps sadly smiling, looking on me with Love, and said: “I was about to ask you the same question? Let me show you how it works. Let me show you how I designed the Body of Christ – My Church.”
On July 5, 2018 my friend, a minister of the Gospel, my brother in Christ died. But standing in the poverty of East Africa, in his quiet gentle way, Ezekiel began a good work. He proclaimed the Gospel. He lived in Christ. Now he rests in Christ. His hope is in Christ.
Mungu akubariki sana. Asante sana kaka mpendwa yangu katika Kristo.
I thank God that the fruits of this labour will be accounted to Ezekiel.
Rest easy brother. Your work here is done.
Toronto dazzled in the bright morning light – the sunrise reflected off glass towers and bank buildings. The CN Tower stood tall in the crisp winter sky. I could see Queens Park, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto; I could smell the aroma of Starbucks coffee – luxury cars swished by – beautifully dressed people hustled off to work as the sun rose.
Mere hours before that I had been lost in Sub-Saharan East Africa – I was supposed to be at the Nairobi Airport. But instead, I was standing in front of a very different Church in a very different place.
Kibera is the most densely populated slum on the earth - a seething mass of humanity living in horrific conditions. The Church there was surrounded by squalor, filth, poverty, hunger and sickness.
I was on my way home from the Mara Region of Tanzania when I got lost. I had been working with passionate energetic indigenous Christian pastors who were suffering in poverty, sickness, and going hungry for days; their babies and children were dying and often they lived separated from their family to preach the Gospel.
Surrounded by this overwhelming poverty, I wept, stunned and perplexed. I asked God - If we are the Body, Your Church, how can this be?
In Tanzania over 96% of families are struggling to survive on less than $2/day. Every pastor I met was struggling to support their family and were living on less than the cost of one cup of coffee/day.
As I journeyed back home to the prosperity of Canada, I really did need an answer - If we are the Body, God’s Church, how can this be? How is it that ministers of the Gospel are suffering and dying in poverty?
Hear the Word given through Paul the Apostle, first to the Church in Corinth and now to us:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is in Christ
…For in the One Spirit we were all baptized into one body… indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many… The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,”… nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you” … but the members must have the same care for one another… If one member suffers, all suffer together with it….if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”