Some will know that Kristi and I have been in a “holding pattern” for several weeks, waiting word regarding our future and whether we can return to our home and ministry in Congo. Deciding that we wanted to flee the cold of central Illinois and go somewhere warmer for a spell, we decided to come out to California.
Last Thursday I arrived in Pasadena. Kristi follows, arriving tomorrow after a week with friends in Orlando. During our time in CA we will not have a car. We are also doing the Daniel Fast for the month of February, eating only vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and only drinking water and herbal tea. I have found both measures tiresome and labor-intensive, but also enjoyable and opening me up to God in new ways. Our goal during this fast is to seek God’s direction for our lives since things feel somewhat uncertain at the moment. Going shopping at Ralph’s last week was a surreal experience. I had my list of brown rice, black beans, peppers, celery, oranges and apples and bananas and a few other odds and ends. Walking down the aisles with all the other food items screaming for my attention made me realize the gravity of our choice. Over the last week I have been able to eat nutritious and tasty meals. It has been a soulful experience, and I do see and feel God speaking to me and ministering His comfort to me.
Not having a car has been a blessing also. The first day in Pasadena I walked to find somewhere to eat dinner and do some initial shopping. On my way, I met Jinoshia, or Jino for short. I met him atop the Metro stop above the 210 freeway. He was reading a book which looked like the Bible. I asked him what he was reading. Slowly peering up at me, he showed me the cover. “The Koran?” I asked. He nodded. “Being a Muslim is a good thing,” he told me. I responded by telling him that I was a Christian. He asked me what it meant to be a Christian. I told him that being a Christian means following Jesus. Sensing his trepidation, I assured him that I had no intention to argue, but to listen and understand. We had a nice conversation about our need for God’s help and grace in our lives. I met Jino two other times last week in the same place. Our faith conversations continued. At one point during one of our conversations he looked at me and said, “Now I know what it means to be a Christian.” Looking into Jino’s eyes, I see love and humility. I see a man who is gentle and kind. I am thankful for my new friend, and hope to see him again.
I am thankful to God for this season of living simply, no car, no meat, no unhealthy foods, no caffeine, no beer or wine. It is a season of consecrating ourselves to God in a specific way for a specific purpose. Pray with us that we will see God’s image in others in a deeper and more profound way, and that we will hear God’s voice in the simple moments of everyday living. Living in an age and culture of decadence and self-gratification and rampant consumerism, I find it so refreshing to live simply and to forsake the many things we often clamor for.