It is not unusual while in Africa to be invited to join in something you were not planning. Often one of us gets asked to preach at church (okay, so that one has become common enough to be expected) or we are serenaded by a pack of neighborhood kids. Meals are served, football games erupt, tours of other local ministries happen. But this was the first time I've been asked to attend a housewarming party.
To call it a housewarming party is not exactly a misnomer, but make no mistake, this was NOTHING like the American shindig that goes by the same name. There were no hors d'ouvres and no one walked in with a large potted plant or Home Depot gift card. This was a very simple gathering of church congregants and friends who wanted to share in the joy of the new homeowner.
It is a story of faith. She had been living in a small combination of three shacks with dirt floors. One day while watching her baby crawl around in that dirt she said to herself, "My princess is not going to grow up like this." She prayed. She contacted her bank and applied for a loan, against the greatest of odds. She received a loan for more than she expected. There were struggles with mean-spirited neighbors and relatives who meant to take her dream down. But in the end there she was in this new house. And on this night she wanted to give God all the glory.
We heard the story of her faith. We sang with them (or tried -- it's hard when you don't speak Afrikaans). We prayed. We rejoiced. We passed her little princess around. I snapped a few photos and captured a bit of video. We sang more songs and Fulu gave a blessing. We thanked them for letting us be part of the celebration.
On the drive home I listened as Fulu told us the back story. There were so many reasons she could have thought this was too big for God and never bothered to ask, never applied for that loan. If it had been me I would have continued to watch my princess crawl and then learn to walk on those dirt floors. I know God is bigger and capable of giving me more than I ask, but I find I live in fear of becoming a shallow believer who sees God as my cosmic vending machine, here to make me happy and give me nothing but good.
And in my desire to avoid a prosperity gospel I have been subconsciously giving Him the "out" of just not asking, not expecting, and not praying for the big miracles. This night of celebrating this house was just one of the experiences I had in South Africa that changed my mind about prayer and what I believe God for.
I thanked Him again for showing me just how huge He really is.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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