I spent a long time looking through folders of poorly categorized and labeled ministry photos on our laptop, hoping to find one of Mzee Timothy. (Mzee is a term for a respected elder.) I wasn’t particularly surprised to not see him in any of the snapshots, because he’s a man who often fades into the background. He wouldn’t try to find his way into a group shot with the other wazee at the weddings or funerals. He isn’t a gifted teacher, so you won’t see him leading a group discussion. He’s not ordained to baptize. He misses out on a lot of events because he spends much of his time working, just struggling to eat each day. This is the best I could do–our only photo of Mzee Timothy–one not really representative of his quiet and pleasant demeanor, but one taken during a time of severe illness just before he was admitted to our local district hospital:
I wanted to introduce you to Mzee Timothy, not because of his notable accomplishments or his superior giftings, but because he is representative of so many in our local fellowships: quiet, unassuming, hard-working…and not out there on the front lines of Kingdom expansion, leading Discovery Bible studies or evangelizing any one of many small groups of men who hang out together here in the village. Instead, he is busy each day caring for his family (which now includes many grandchildren), and perhaps visiting with his neighbors. He rarely misses a Sunday fellowship, and although he doesn’t have a gift for exegesis of the Scriptures, he believes in God’s Word and takes it for what it teaches. Marc has encouraged him, as one of the few wazee in our local fellowship, to share something during our interactive services, and Timothy has taken that responsibility seriously. He is one of the first to stand up and speak; not with the force of personality but with the quiet authority of the Word. Most of the time, he simply shares a Scripture from the New Testament that has been meaningful to him during his week. It is enough.
Now that you know a little about Timothy, and can imagine what a sweet old man he is, you can also perhaps share in my joy as I see and relate the fruit of the Kingdom message in his life. This past Sunday, Alexander, a friend and neighbor of Timothy’s, accompanied him to our fellowship gathering. Alexander shared that he has quietly been watching Timothy’s life since he surrendered to Christ. Marc noted that Alexander usually attends the weekly wazee meeting if Timothy is the host. Alexander shared of his lifelong church attendance and his desire to find the “real thing,” but not really being satisfied with denominations. Instead, he has seen something in Timothy and wants to know more. He expressed a desire to hear the same teaching that changed Timothy, and said that he believes he will need to be baptized into new life. From here, I’m sure one of our gifted teachers will be sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom with Alexander eventually, but this would not have happened without the quiet witness of Timothy’s life. So praise God with us for the fruit that is being born for the Kingdom of God, not in the preaching to hundreds, but in the day-to-day example that so many disciples here live out before their families, friends, and neighbors. And pray with us for a continued harvest here on the mission field in Kenya.