Several months ago, I felt it was time for us to buy a local drum for our village ministry. Something very beautiful and important to the people here is their time of praise and worship. Unlike many western cultures and churches, they put their whole hearts and bodies into worship. There’s a lot of jumping, harmonizing, dancing around and the like. This is their way of expressing their love for God and the joy that they have. I love watching them worship. I also join in, but I can’t begin to move and jump as well as them.
For anyone who has been a missionary in an African country, you know what I’m talking about!
I thought a drum would add a new energy and flavor to our worship time. Indeed, the people love it and it’s been so much fun carrying it around with us. But God is in the habit of using things for much more than we anticipated. I never thought that God would bring salvation to a man by using the purchase of our drum.
Pastor Jimmy knew that there was a man near his home who was selling two drums. He didn’t know the man personally, but he heard about the drums. The man’s name was James. We decided to buy from him. The drum cost was the equivalent of approximately $20. It’s very well-made. The night we purchased the drum, it was raining hard. I didn’t get to meet James as Jimmy ran out to grab it and give him the money. Jimmy introduced himself to James and explained that we are a ministry.
Several weeks later, the man showed up to the church that Jimmy pastors on a Sunday morning. He explained that he had no money for survival, and no faith in God either. I guess his heart was searching though, and he prayed for help. It was at that time that we purchased the drum and the money helped him and his family. He saw that God was real and took care of him because of the timing. He decided to go to church and he gave his life to the Lord. James was in his 20’s. He started coming each week, and Jimmy was encouraging him in his new faith.
It turns out that James has been sick with Hepatitis B. He went to a hospital in Gulu. (There is better medical care there compared to here. It is a two-hour journey.) Unfortunately, he did not improve. He ended up back in the hospital in Kitgum. When my parents were here we went to visit him. He was clearly in so much pain. His stomach was distended and the sickness had caused other health complications that he was battling. His mother and older brother were there with him in the hospital. They looked so broken. My parents and I laid hands on him and prayed over him. I just felt that he wasn’t going to make it for much longer, so I encouraged him that as believers in Jesus we have so much hope for the life to come, and so many wonderful things to look forward to. I explained that once we all get to heaven, we will have no more sickness or suffering, no more poverty or war. He seemed to take comfort in those words.
On Monday of this week, just a week after we saw him, James passed away. He is now home free in a place that none of us can dream of in our wildest imaginations. And to think, I thought we were supposed to get a drum to liven up our worship time; but infact, God used it to bring salvation and extend His hand of love and mercy to a man that He knew would soon stand before Him.
What a gracious, loving God. He truly works all things together for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28.)
Every small thing that we do matters. Whether it is preaching a sermon, cleaning a bathroom, or perhaps even buying a $20 drum. We never know what God will be working behind the scenes to make an eternal difference.