We recently went to Kenya on a mission trip as part of our school in California. We were in a village called Mtwapa just outside of Mombasa on the coast. The eastern coast of Africa is a really beautiful place and we loved our time there. We were not there to enjoy the sights however. We were on a mission to share the love of God with the locals. We were partnering with a local church pastor Christopher and we saw some seriously life changing things. I want to share small excerpts from our trip in a series called ‘Kenyan Encounters’. In this article I want to talk about how one young mans life was impacted, my new friend Timothy.
In our second week in Kenya it was planned that we would visit a local hospital in Mombasa to minister to the sick. One of the local pastors had written to the hospital administration and it looked like we had the go ahead. So we headed there with our team one morning. We arrived only to discover that the administration team were in a meeting and we might not get to go inside the different wards as we had initially thought. There were a number of people passing through the walkway where we waited, coming in and out of the hospital. There were also a number of people just sitting around outside. So we decided to make the best of the situation, we just started approaching people with our interpreters and offering to pray for them. We saw God do mighty things including healing a man on crutches, a man with TB received his energy back and was running around and two people gave their lives to God after my wife Jo open air preached! All of this was witnessed by a group of prisoners who we were not allowed to speak to. We couldn’t speak the gospel to them so we demonstrated it!
Towards the end of our time there I struck up conversation with a young man in uniform who stopped near us. He spoke english so I didn’t need to find an interpreter which made things easier. His name was Timothy and he seemed friendly. I asked him about the uniform and it turns out he was part of the National Youth Service in Kenya. He had just been in to see the doctor who had taken an X-ray of his spine. He had a lump on his spine and it was causing him pain (maybe a slipped disc? I am not a doctor!). I explained what we were doing and that we had seen a number of people healed earlier and then offered to pray for him. I can’t say that in the moment I was full of faith but I just stepped out anyway. I said a really short prayer and then asked him how he felt. He obviously wasn’t expecting much to have happened but when he reached round to feel he couldn’t find the lump and there was no longer any pain. He told me he thought it was better. He seemed a little uncertain so I suggested that maybe he could go and check it out in privacy. I was thinking he would perhaps head to the public toilets around the corner to examine himself. He dissappeared of and I waited to see if he would come back.
Five minutes or so later he marched back round the corner with purpose. He walked straight up to me and said he needed to talk to me. He didnt stop but led me up the walkway away from the others. I was wondering what was happening and could not tell if this was good or bad!
“How did you do that?” were the first words out of his lips once we had some privacy. I could see a genuine desire to know in his eyes. It turns out he had not gone to the toilet but rather straight back to the doctor. The doctor had done a fresh X-ray showing that he was healed but he could not believe or understand it. His back was healed and he had a before and after X-ray!
I explained to him we were Christians and that we believed that just like Jesus healed the sick he called us to do the same. I discovered Timothy was a believer but in his own words he had “never seen power like that before”. I explained that as a believer he could also pray for the sick, he had the same Holy Spirit living inside him that lived in Jesus. He was captivated. I asked if I could pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit and that God would anoint him for healing others. I prayed and then began to share a little of what I felt God was saying to me about him. I felt God was saying he was going to be a great leader. He would carry influence in the future within his nation. Timothy was greatly encouraged. I could tell he had a humble and faithful heart, a recipe for promotion. He told me that God had healed him once before in his life. He had been sick when he was younger and in a dream he had been cured. He woke up to discover he was well! After five minutes of conversation my wife Jo came over to meet him and I shared what had happened. I asked if she had anything to share with Timothy. She spoke to him of how he was a young leader after Timothy in the bible and that he would have influence. The same word I had just given to him. Our friend was amazed, he knew we had not conferred about what to say. God had a message to share with him that day!
Our time talking was unfortunately cut short as our team were departing, our transporation had arrived. We said goodbye and blessed him.
Afterwards I was struck by the potential in this encounter. Timothy was in the National Youth Service. This is an initiative in Kenya where students attend a technical college and get educated with a potential path into the armed forces. Be it the army, police or other forces. What would this young man of God go on to do? Where would he be in ten years? Would he climb the ranks in the military or the police? What would this one encounter with the living God do to his destiny. Maybe his life was changed forever in that moment. Maybe God would remind him of his call when one day he is in a place of influence over his nation. Whatever his path I pray that God impacts the nation of Kenya through him. It started with a simple conversation and the offer to pray. If you stop and think about it, any given conversation or act of obedience has the the potential to cause huge ripples, impacting individuals, families and maybe even nations.