While in Africa, I was sitting across the table interviewing Phyllis Stirewalt; she and her husband have been missionaries in Eldoret, Kenya for the past 37 years. I asked what she has learned about God in the past 37 years of ministry to the Kenyans and she replied: “You know, God demands total obedience, and he certainly doesn’t need our help. We’re always trying to help. We, as missionaries or people in ministry, think that it depends on us, but when it comes down to it, we’re not all that important. So that’s the most important thing that I’ve learned.” I was shocked at her response. This couple has helped to create a movement of church planting and discipleship in Eldoret - 200 churches planted there in the last 37 years. What does she mean “God doesn’t really need us”? And then I recently came across this verse in Isiah 55:10-11 that says “"The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
I now realize that If there is just one thing that I’ve now learned in my travel capturing the stories of God moving in peoples’ lives, it’s that God works around the world without my influence. Now don’t get me wrong, we are to be carriers of the good news of Jesus. (Mark 16:15) We need to care for the sick, hungry, lame and poor. But we aren’t the saviors, Jesus is. We don’t lead God, we join him in what he is already doing in the lives of people around the world. We listen and obey. That’s all God wants from us.
So, I do think the Stirewalts got it right. They are not there to help anyone; they are there to be a part of God’s movement in Africa. So now, maybe it’s time for us to join God movement in what he is doing around the world. Maybe it’s time to listen and obey.