Sunday, June 12, 2016

Take off your garments

Take off your garments
It's been a few days since we left the warm coastal air of Mombasa and I keep replaying an interaction I had over and over again in my head. We were at a center for an economic empowerment training as they taught 80 CARE for AIDS clients how to make cake in a pot over a fire with 6 ingredients. While the cake was cooking we got some time with the pastor of the church, Jane. Pastor Jane explained to us about how excited she was to have learned about the CFA program and have it start in her church. She talked about how God has reignited purpose back into her ministry to shepherd and love on these clients. She even said "why do we call them clients, they are more like my family". She explained how she has kept an open door policy with the clients, asking them at any time to come in her office for tea or just to talk. Then she told the story of Alima. 

Alima is a Muslim woman currently enrolled in the program who was typically pretty downtrodden and reserved. Pastor Jane explained how Alima looked to be in her mid 50's although the she was barely 40 because of the progression of her disease. One day, Alima was standing outside her office looking sullen. Pastor Jane told Alima to please come in for tea. Alima responded that she had just been told she was worse than dust by her family. Jane called her in for tea and spoke value over Alima. Alima, head to toe in her Muslim clothing, told Jane how her life was categorized by a spirit of stress, but that she sensed a spirit of peace in Jane. Jane told her about the hope she has in Jesus and Alima became more and more interested. In Jane's own words, and the sound byte that keeps replaying in my head, she said "Alima, my child, take off your garments and lean on Christ". Alima accepted the gift of salvation in that very moment. Then as soon as Jane finished her story, she said, just look there behind you, here comes Alima. Up she walks in a beautiful and simple African dress with her head uncovered, smiling at Jane so intimately. Jane then said, "Now Alima always makes sure to tell me, thank you for giving me your Jesus". 
At first as I processed that story I was simply struck with the amazing thought of this AIDS stricken woman coming to Christ, leaving behind a religion of rituals and uncertainty of salvation and putting her trust in the one source of true healing. But as it kept replaying in my heart, I saw myself in Alima. When life gets difficult it is easy to cover yourself in the rituals that make you feel safe. For me: make a plan, make a backup plan, ask for counsel, worry, guilt etc. These garments seem helpful at times but they're covering up my lack of trust in God's Provision. But Jesus calls me to throw off my garments and rest in the freedom he covers me in. I don't have to cover myself in shame, take off that garment and find my value in him. I don't have to dress myself in my own pride or control. Throw off that garment and lean into my father who cares for me. I am no longer Eve, hiding in Eden, covering myself in leaves of guilt or fear or shame. Jesus calls me 'daughter', not dust, and tells me to throw off those garments and lean on him, the one source of life and joy. 

If you would like to join us in this amazing work, you can sponsor clients like Alima for 25$ a month or 300$ for a year. Please consider engaging at: