"Do you remember me?" said Washington, a very happy Kenyan man. "We've met before" I responded. I did not remember just where or when it was. "Yes, the last time we met two years ago you gave me a Bible", he gleefully responded.
Now it was my time to ask a question. "Oh -- what happened to you after you received your Bible?" I said. "Well, let me put it this way." my new friend responded, "I took my Bible home and began to read it to my family. And since we began to read the Bible together, Jesus has come to live in our house! And because Jesus has come to live in our house, we have been married in a proper way."
Yes, the Bible does tell us that there will be a famine of the Word of God in the last days, and that was never more true than it is for multiplied millions of desperately poor Kenyans who can read English but have no Bible to read.
Let me tell you about Shadrach! Shadrach lives in Kenya and as a boy was afflicted with polio. When Dorothy and I met him his legs were spindly as match sticks as his torso sat at the edge of a dusty pavement. Hung over his back was a torn small backpack in which all his worldly possessions were stored. He showed them to us -- a few gospel tracts, a small writing pad, a pencil and a few pieces of string.
Shadrach's hands were the only means of shuffling his torso down the pavement. Dorothy noticed that his bloodshot eyes were the result of his constantly rubbing them with his dusty hands. At Dorothy's suggestion I hastened to get an eye wash only to return to find Dorothy sitting on a fragile box beside him. As she washed his eyes we soon learned that Shadrach was our brother in Christ who truly loved the Lord Jesus.
We gave Shadrach a few Kenyan shillings as he told us he never begged but trusted the Lord Jesus to provide his meager daily sustenance of food. He was very grateful for the few shillings! But when we gave Shadrach a Bible, he was ecstatically excited. He caressed it and kissed it as a mother would her child!
The last but one time that we saw Shadrach, Dorothy and I prayed for him: "Lord Jesus You know Shadrach needs a new shirt and a new pair of trousers." His trousers and shirt were torn and dirty to the point of being unrespectable. "And you know dear Lord, I could provide Shadrach with this need of his, but if I were to do that, I would become his source of supply and when Dorothy and I leave tomorrow, his source of supply will go with us. So I pray in Jesus' name, that You will give Shadrach a new shirt and pair of trousers in such a way that he knows it comes from You and that You will continue to supply his frugal needs even when Dorothy and I have to leave."
We saw Shadrach just one more time as he had propelled his torso down the street to the spot on the sidewalk where we first met him. Excitedly, he gesticulated for us to come and speak with him. Pulling his backpack from his shoulder, he opened it to reveal a brand new shirt and a brand new pair of trousers!
"I don't know who it was" said Shadrach, but as a stranger passed by -- it might have been a man or an angel, I don't know, but look what he dropped in my lap." And then he proudly displayed his new shirt and trousers.
Yes, Shadrach was very happy that he would now be respectably dressed. But his joy over the shirt and trousers was nothing to be compared with the ecstatic joy that he displayed when he received his very own Bible.
Draught was prevalent throughout Kenya as Dorothy and I arrived to teach at a Pastors Conference. We were accompanied by a team of American Christians who would drill water wells. We were privileged to teach 100 pastors who would be gathering. Many of the 100 pastors were recent converts and God had blessed their testimonies resulting in new churches being birthed.
A hand full of pastors had walked for 17 hours in the Equatorial sun and the parched landscape to have the opportunity of being taught the Word of God.
But, can you imagine it, the majority of these precious pastors did not have a Bible? What a privilege it was to give each pastor a Bible. We then began to teach: "It's not enough to have a Bible in your hand, it's not enough to read it and get it in your head, I want to tell you how to read it and get it from your hand to your head to your heart." Although the pastors were excited to have a stodgy plate of carbohydrates, over which was poured a thin pretense of gravy, there is no way to describe their absolute joy of receiving the very "bread of Life" -- a copy of the Word of God for themselves. Neither is there a way to describe the absolute dearth of Bibles in Kenya where it is commonly known that "the church is a 100 miles wide and an inch deep"!
On the way to a Pastor's Conference where we were to teach 100 country pastors, my wife, because of intense spinal problems, was unable to traverse the country trail in a vehicle. So, with our translator, we walked together down a trail through the forest for the last 3 to 4 miles. On the horizon we noticed what appeared to be a moving bundle of wooden sticks. As it approached we saw this heavy burden was carried on the bent-over back of a fragile African lady. They call them the "stick ladies"! My wife said, through our translator, "Why don't you lay down your heavy burden and we will talk awhile." The stick lady fell backwards with her back falling on the bundle of sticks in order to free herself. Then Dorothy took one of the sticks and said "I want to tell you about the One who made the forest from which this stick came", and as she talked other stick ladies came down the trail, dropping their heavy burdens.
One of the team, who was there to drill water wells, was sent to find some food and produced on a tray but a few slices of bread commanding: "Divide the slices in half as there is not enough to go around for everybody and only the most hungry can be given bread!" Dorothy looked at the starving bodies who were suffering from a lack of food caused by a severe draught. Knowing that the stick ladies could not understand her English, Dorothy said "I believe that the Lord will make provision to feed these ladies even if He has to turn the tray into a loaf of bread.". Reluctantly, the ladies pushed each other forward and hesitantly came for the bread until Dorothy was handing out the last piece. Suddenly, the supplier of the bread arrived with plenty for all and everybody had some physical nourishment. Talk about feeding the 5000!
Each evening at the same trail, increasing numbers of stick ladies gathered as Dorothy expounded the Word of God for 1 to 2 hours. By the last evening between 4-500 ladies gathered on a nearby hillside. We never did get to the ladies meeting. The ladies came to the stick ladies meeting!
We will never forget the last night when with ecstatic joy, the stick ladies responded to the Lord Jesus and received Him into their hearts and lives and began to sing in African harmony, praises to their new found Savior, and thanksgiving for the precious Bibles which we had been able to place in their hands.
As the stick ladies disappeared into the African sunset, those ladies who were nicely dressed for the planned pastor's wives meeting, helped lift the bundles of sticks back onto the stick ladies shoulders and assisted them on their way back to their villages. We said: "Now we have seen living example of what it means to bear one another's burdens".
There are millions of people who long for the Word of God Who is the Bread of Life. The Lord alone will continue to feed their souls until they see Jesus face to face!