Take the interruption
Jason and I took off work on January 21, 2013, to spend the day with our children. We decided to go to the Atlanta area that weekend to hear a college friend preach, catch up with some friends that had moved away from Birmingham a few years back and to share lunch with our friends Claud and Mary Crosby.
On Monday, we met the Crosbys at a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant for lunch. When we arrived for lunch, they had their friend Musa with them from Swaziland. Musa is in the USA for a few weeks and had no plans for the coming week. Claud is in school and had class and study commitments. Musa’s host also had no plans for him for the week. Jason and I looked at each other and back at Musa and said, “Do you want to come home with us for the week?” Musa immediately said yes and called his host for approval. In three minutes, we had a guest for the week.
Musa is from Swaziland, the same village where four members of the Grace Klein family served in 2008. Claud and Mary were missionaries to this village and Musa was Claud’s translator and eventually taught him the native language. Musa loves Jesus and is a leader in his community. He helps care for the village orphans, drives a taxi and counsels and educates on HIV/AIDS prevention. Every week someone in his village dies due to the spread of disease. The average life expectancy is age 32. Musa is 30, so in his lifetime he has grieved the loss of many people. He lives in a small hut, sleeping on the ground, without running water or electricity. He is full of the Lord and committed to serving his people. His long term dream is to attend a university to be trained as a nurse.
We did not remember Musa, though I had served in his village. Claud and Mary intimately knew Musa. Claud and Mary are family to us. So naturally, if Musa was family to Claud and Mary, he was also family to us. On our way back to Birmingham, we stopped by Sweetwater Creek to go hiking. The hike was beautiful and a good time to get to know Musa. Over and over Musa kept saying, “there is so much firewood here.” Oh how we take such simple things for granted. He needs firewood daily in his village to stay warm, for cooking and to heat his bath water.
We began to pray that God would allow us to encourage Musa, challenge him and that God would bless his time in Birmingham. We wanted his time to be used wisely and for God’s glory. We did only two things, we emailed our kids’ teachers to see if Musa could share in their classrooms and we put a message on Facebook asking friends if they wanted Musa to share at their Bible studies, prayer groups or schools. We trusted God would have His way.
The first night Musa was here, we stopped by a friend’s home to share dinner with two other families. He shared about his life in Swaziland, about his country, about his village. We enjoyed our time together and laughed so much. Musa’s smile and laugh is so contagious. He is full of the joy of the Lord.
On Tuesday, Amelia Grace’s teacher invited Musa to come share in her classroom. He spent the morning helping the Grace Klein Construction material manager run materials to the jobsites. Then, he went to share in her classroom. The kids loved him, the teacher loved him. She immediately contacted her friend at another school and asked if Musa could share at that school. As God worked behind the scenes, Musa enjoyed a burger and fries from Mugshots, helped deliver more materials to jobsites and received a tour of the Bass Pro Shop in Leeds. Tuesday night we had a prayer time at our home and four families came. We spent time praying together and afterwards Musa was able to share some about Swaziland.
On Wednesday morning, Musa first went to a men’s prayer breakfast where he heard about what God is doing in Cuba (a friend just returned from serving there) and he shared about what God was doing in Swaziland. He could not believe that a restaurant would allow you to purchase only drinks and stay there talking for over an hour. He thought they would surely kick them out.
Next, he went to share in three classrooms at another elementary school that opened their doors and their hearts to him. The students were eager to help in some way and elected to collect school supplies and soccer balls for his village. The kids’ questions were thought-provoking and he had a blast.
Later, he went to talk with two classes at a homeschool co-op. The co-op supports two children overseas, and as God would have it, those children are in Swaziland. The only other missionary that had shared at their school had served in Swaziland. And, when he went to share, Musa found out that the missionary from Swaziland was currently in the U.S. They knew one another – they had met in Swaziland last year. In case you don’t know, Swaziland is a tiny country about the size of New Jersey. As huge as the continent of Africa is, as huge as this world is, God can bring His children together whenever and where ever He pleases. It encourages us and it glorifies Himself.
He challenged the homeschool kids to be Ambassadors for Christ and to give their lives lifting up Christ higher and higher. One boy especially felt a connection with Musa and kept talking about the deep things of God with him and wanting to know all about Musa’s journey with Jesus. This young boy wants to be a missionary when he grows up and translate the Bible into native languages.
Musa raced from this gathering across town to yet another elementary school that wanted to hear from him. The favor of God was upon us as these schools wanted to hear from a living breathing African. Praise God.
Wednesday evening he shared dinner with a small group and shared all that Jesus is doing in his village and in his own heart.
Thursday morning Musa was able to go on a delivery where Grace Klein Community was furnishing an apartment for a rehab graduate. He enjoyed time praying and talking with the lady. She had nothing and then God furnished her apartment with two truckloads of donations. Our God is faithful to care for all his children.
Next, he was able to go share at a school in Jemison, AL. A friend that works there discovered Musa was in Birmingham via Facebook and he was able to reconnect with someone else who had served in his village. He shared with her classroom and taught them some of the traditional Swazi dances.
A Crossfit gym opened their place to him for their weekly Bible study lunch. He shared with them about what God is doing and they are considering a fundraiser to help put a well in his community.
Then, he went to yet another elementary school… this is now six schools in case you lost count. This classroom engaged with Musa the most, they danced and sang and gave Musa a group hug at the end because they loved him so much. The teacher plans to do a mission project with her class to help Musa and then another project locally. Praise God! These children are learning how to serve their community and the world.
Later Thursday afternoon, Musa was able to reconnect with another friend who served in his village. She came from Tuscaloosa to pick him up and have him spend the night with her and her husband so they could catch up after nearly four years of not seeing each other. Caroline served two long periods of time in Swaziland and they became close siblings in the Lord.
Friday evening he returned to Birmingham for a “send off” party hosted by his new Birmingham friends. His friend Caroline already had a weekend planned to visit friends in Chelsea so she dropped him off at the party, which was hosted on the SAME road where she is spending the weekend.
Our office was a flurry of activity as people dropped off donations for Musa. CLEATS (Christ Living Eternally Among Team Sports) dropped off two bins of sporting equipment so the kids can learn how to play baseball. Another family donated soaps and shampoos. One of the schools collected school supplies and soccer balls. Two other classrooms sent cards for Musa to distribute to other children in his village. Another classroom is collecting donations for his village.
We returned Musa to Atlanta on Saturday and had the privilege to pray with his host and for his country. The supplies God provided had multiplied and the middle of her home was filled with donations. Praise God for how He is using so many to care for his children in Swaziland.
God used a last minute, unplanned, unexpected trip to Birmingham to give Musa time with eight different classrooms in six schools, two men’s groups, two small groups, allowed him to reconnect with four friends he’d met before in Swaziland and gave him countless new friends. God will use all of these connections to help a tiny dying village in Swaziland. He truly cares about the least of these. God will use Musa’s stories to remind us not to be too comfortable to see the least of these. He reminded us of how much need there is in the world. He reminded us to welcome interruptions in our routines. Let’s not underestimate God’s hand in our everyday lives or what He is capable of if we just ask. Watch with us and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.