He was with them

Jesus was, we are told, going through the cities and villages of Israel, seeing their needs and struggles. I am not suggesting that other methods of outreach are not helpful – the internet, shortwave radio, Bible correspondence courses, short-term trips, but the best way to do mission work is to be there, with the people, for a prolonged period of time (Matthew 9:35-38).

At times, Paul was forced by circumstances to leave an area of work. In Thessalonians he was only able to preach in the synagogue for three weeks before being driven out (Acts 17:1,2). “That very night,” Luke recalls, “the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea” (Acts 17:10). Continue reading “He was with them”

Beneath misty mountains

“A good man (and a good woman) leaves an inheritance to his children’s children …” (Proverbs 13:22)

Let me tear away the mists of time and let you see the valley where my parents made a home. It was a city sheltered by misty mountains. One of the mountain ranges is even named for the mist – the Vumba (or sometimes Bvumba) is the local word for mist or drizzle. Continue reading “Beneath misty mountains”

I’m a Missionary

She was bright-eyed and twenty years old, if she was a day. Her heart, I know, was in the right place. But her words jarred: “I’m a missionary,” she was saying.

What she meant was that she had participated in several week or two week-long mission trips.

I though of my uncle Reece Mitchell who spent 25 years in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I thought of another uncle, Dennis Mitchell who worked in Zambia 15 years. I thought of my father Loy Mitchell whose work in Zimbabwe traversed 40 years.

No, gentle student, you are not a missionary. Continue reading “I’m a Missionary”

The bench

There is a photograph floating around that depicts five old African men sitting on a bench, holding hymnbooks and singing. Four of the men are black men, their faces distorted, their thoughts transposed by the beauty and intensity of the words they sing. The bench is as sturdy as a politician’s promise.

The fifth “old African man” is my father, his face similarly transfixed by the Shona hymn they sing. He is one of them, melded and fused, the third sekuru (grandfather) in the picture. Their voices are in harmony, their thoughts in unison.

He is an African, one of them. Forty years of working with, crying with, rejoicing with, worshiping with these people will do that to you. Continue reading “The bench”