“Unaitua nani?” “Je, newaza kukuombea?” “Yesu anakupenda.”
    It’s not much, but already I’ve seen the hand of God bring hope and love into his children through it. Three phrases. What is your name? Can I pray for you? Jesus loves you.
     This trip into the beautiful East African land has been more than I expected. I decided to jump on a plane and fly across the pond only a few weeks before I left. My brother lives in a village called Ivuna with his wife and four kids. It’s been some time since I’ve seen them and it might be a long time before I see them again. My sister and I came to just visit and share their life for a bit. Before I left the States, however, God revealed that there was a lot more that he had in store. Excitedly, we boarded the plane. From Philadelphia to Cairo to Dar es Salaam to Mbeya to Ivuna, Jesus went before us. And along the way I got to practice these three simple phrases.
     Something that has been on my mind while here and for a while before coming is the Presence of God in my life. I feel a strong desire to stay with Jesus through every single second. Now when some people say they want to be with Jesus, they just mean they want to think about him all the time. Or they want to do his will all the time. Or they want to pray to him all the time. Etc., etc. But while those are awesome desires, mine is different. You see, I believe Jesus’ Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is within me and all who believe. For real. But here again I want to clarify. When I say Spirit, I don’t mean just a like-mindedness such as when we say the “team spirit” or the essence of a belief or feeling such as when we say the “spirit of joy”. Rather I mean the Spirit. Of God. He lives within me. Through the life swap the He did on the cross we now have the Holy Spirit of God inside our spirits. That’s crazy. But what I’m getting at is this: there are a lot of people who believe this but do not understand its implications. Let me share what I believe this means:
     It means there is not a day when Jesus isn’t speaking into my mind truths I never known or fully believed. It means there’s not a day when I am not before the throne of heaven, not a day when I am not seen by God, not a day when my prayers aren’t heard, not a day when I am alone. This is the spiritual reality of all who are sons of God. It’s radical isn’t it?
     But. The sad truth is that even though Jesus is always with me, I am not always with him. Now in the physical world this is a contradiction. It’s different in the spiritual world. There, location is not unity. Instead, position is what brings together. Jesus said that if anyone loves him, he and his Father will go and make their home with him.  He means he will be positioned next to this person because of his own position to his Father. Ok, so that’s a lot to think about. The result is this: that if I do not actively position my heart and choose to be aware of the presence of Jesus, I will not be with him in this intimate way. And when there is a distance between our positions, hearing his voice and resting in his protection becomes hard. That’s not how I want to live my life.
     I have found in my own very limited experience that often when I am serving someone spiritually, I end up feeling this “distance”. How can this be? Well, it seems that when I am expected to give something, I reach into my own pockets. I start to distribute any little bits of truths or encouragements or faith or experiences I can find in my life. After a few days, I run out. So I run to Jesus and I say, “Jesus, I need something for these people! Help!” He does. So back I run. I quickly dole out whatever he has shown me. Then I’m empty again. I’m sure this picture has been experienced by anyone who has been in this type of environment. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
     So when I left America for this short trip, I made a decision: I will not run suicides anymore. I will not spend my time running back and forth. Instead, I’ll actively position myself next to Jesus. Just like Mary, Lazarus’ sister, I will dwell at his feet. He will feed me and I will constantly be delighted and satisfied in his presence. Instead of taking what Jesus has given me to those I want to serve, I’ll let Jesus take me. Instead of being so consumed with sharing the revelations I believe he has given me, I will start simply showing the change I know he has made in me. Instead of trying to feed those who are hungry, I will let Jesus feed both of us. And because I do not run to Jesus begging for a morsel to share, I find he gives me a buffet not just for others but for myself. Oh I wish I could better describe this way of living! I guess I can sum it up by saying, I decided to stop only living for Jesus and to start living with Jesus. And when I am with him?
     I find him in every day. He speaks to my mind in little thoughts when I just listen. He says, “I love you.” He shows me what he is already doing in the locations I visit and what he wants to do in the situations I face. Sometimes I just watch. Sometimes He tells me to join:
     I look across the busy terminal. There’s hundreds of people milling around. Everyone is going somewhere and everyone can’t wait to get there. I’m in the middle of a terminal in Jules Nygere Int’l Airport, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After so many hours of travel already I can’t wait to catch our last flight on a small domestic jet to Mbeya where I will meet my brother whom I haven’t seen in almost two years. But as I look to my left, I notice an African Bibi (Grandma). She sits very slowly and grimaces with obvious pain. She keeps a smile on her face and she tries to make conversation with a girl beside her. Immediately, my “Jesus opportunity” sensor goes off. I ask him, “Jesus, should I offer to pray for this beautiful lady?” I know the answer before I hear his voice. Still, I wrestle for a bit. Finally I get up. I walk over. “Je, naweza kukuombea?” I ask. She nods, and I pray. It’s simple. I just want to give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to heal this woman and show her his love. He wants to, too. He hears my simple prayer. When I’m done praying, I think I say “Yesu anukupenda, Bibi.” I get up and she looks at me with the sweetest smile. She say something like “Asante, asante sana.(Thank you, thank you very much)” And I know she has been touched by Love. I walk back to my seat knowing Jesus is pleased. The smile of God is what I live for.
     This scenario has happened quite a few times already. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It’s just simple obedience and even simpler faith. I know not everyone has been healed physically. But if Jesus told me to do it, I am sure it wasn’t in vain. After all, he is more concerned with showing his love than showing his power. And maybe he has shown his power too. So far I haven’t seen any immediate healings but I have seen definite answers to prayer. I love it.
     Don’t wait till you look like Todd White or you have been prayed for by the Apostle Paul. Don’t wait to obey. Just walk with Jesus. Watch as he encounters his children and when he asks you to help, do it. It’s fun, family. And remember: there is no fear in perfect love. As we learn to love his children as he does, all fear of man will dissolve.
     That wraps it up. I’m learning so much about what life looks like when one stays in the Presence of God. He has shown me a lot about what I believe is the next chapter. This adventure won’t end anytime soon. Exciting ayy? Let’s all get on this trip.