Today, I’m happy to bring you another sweet cyber-friend, Sylvia Stewart. Sylvia grew up in the (then) Belgian Congo. She spent 21 years as an Assemblies of God missionary in Malawi, East Africa, with her husband, Duane. While there, she taught some writing workshops, which are now bearing fruit. She started writing Kondi’s Quest hoping to weave a story for the children of Malawi.
“Honey, stir your coffee silently — like this,” Daddy admonished with a gentle, loving smile. He swirled his spoon in the very center of the cup two or three times, then placed the spoon in the saucer. No clattering nor clanking!
I grew up in Africa where sugar granules were very large and stirring one’s coffee or tea was either a vigorous or a prolonged business. I preferred to hurry things up. However, Daddy wanted me appear to be a lady instead of a girl who came from an end-of-the-road mission — a from-the-jungle girl who didn’t understand the demands of “polite society.” He wanted me to conform to actions approved by those I presently lived among.
Although learning to stir my coffee without a clatter hasn’t helped me rise very far on the social scale, a certain amount of conformity is good. Jesus conformed to ceremonial washing before a meal. He also attended the synagogue even though He acknowledged that some of the Jewish religious leaders were like “whited sepulchers” (Matt 23:27), appealingly clean on the outside but full of decay and rot.
God asked a lot of people in the Bible to act in non-conforming ways:
Abraham – to go to an unknown destination. He could have replied, “A place You will show me, Lord? I have no idea where I’m going!”
Moses – to speak to a rock to find water in the desert. He could have said, “Speak to a rock, Lord? The people will think I’m crazy!”
Noah – to build an ark on dry land. He could have said, “Lord, there is no sea – not even close to here! And rain? I’ve never heard of it before!”
Jocabed – to put her baby in a basket in the river. “God, put my baby in the river? There are crocodiles in there!”
Ruth – to stay with her mother-in-law rather than return to her own home. “I don’t know anyone in Israel!”
Rahab – to hide spies when it would have been more politically correct to expose them. “Hide them? I could be killed for doing this!”
Hosea – to marry Gomer. “But Lord, she’s a harlot and I’m set apart to be your man of God.”
The penniless widow of a prophet – to gather many pots in which to pour her dram of oil. “Yeah, right! How far will this little bit of oil go? And then I’ll look ridiculous to all my neighbors when I have to return these pots – empty.”
Radical non-conformity, if God has required it of us, is right—providing, of course, that we’re sure it comes from God. Here’s an example: When we taught in Bible College in Ethiopia, a student came to our school with lumps and scabs on his head. He had constant headaches because he had been beaten and stoned by his village. Even members of his own family participated.
His offense? — preaching the Gospel.
Toward the end of his first year, he stood in chapel and requested prayer for his vacation ministry. “God is telling me to go back to my village and preach. I know it could mean I will die.”
When we respond in faith, we will be blessed. It requires a leap of faith. I read recently, “Both fear and faith believe what the mind envisions will happen.” Will I cower or consent? Perhaps I do stir my coffee more silently these days. However, if God requires us to do something unusual for Him, something no one else has done, let’s respond with a leap of faith.
And a step of obedience.
~~About the book…
Kondi, a 12-year-old Malawian girl, is sure her father, Bambo, doesn’t love her. He seems to care more about the secret brown envelope he carries with him everywhere than his own daughter. She’s convinced things will improve, though, when her mother’s baby arrives.
Then one night Bambo beats Mai in a drunken rage, and neighbors rush her off to the hospital. Will Mai and the baby live? Will Kondi be sold off by her uncle Kakama to a rich man to be his third wife? And what could possibly be in Bambo’s brown envelope?
The secrets are about to be revealed.