I recently attended my first Rooted in Jesus training, and the experience was amazing. On the outset, Rooted in Jesus may look like a simple course in Christian discipleship; but upon a closer look, it is a powerful and meaningful course, equipping Africans in their faith in a context relative to them. These disciples in turn lead Rooted in Jesus groups, making more disciples of Christ. I had the privilege to be one of the team leaders for the training.
There are several things I loved about the training, but what I enjoyed most was the relationships. Among the people I met were three who reminded me of modern-day versions of characters in the Bible. I would like to share their stories with you.
Uncle Peter—The Loving Father
Uncle Peter’s son was a drug addict. Because of his addiction, he lost his wife, his job, his health, his home. For two years he lived in the bush, and his family didn’t know his whereabouts. One Christmas Day he called his parents and asked to come home. Never giving up hope on finding his son and seeing him delivered from addiction, Uncle Peter had been waiting for those very words. Uncle Peter’s son has been clean for several years and has rebuilt his life. Uncle Peter still gets tears in his eyes when he shares his story. He told me, “I know that Jesus Christ is the Lord because I have seen what he has done in my son’s life.” Uncle Peter reminds me of the prodigal son’s father, who was waiting with outstretched arms to receive his son. (Luke 15:11-24)
Three months ago Auntie Rosina lost her husband. The pain and grief are still quite real for her. She’s a quiet lady, but I detected an underlying wit, which was quite charming. She has a tender place in my heart, and I would appreciate your prayers for her as she continues to work through the grief of losing her beloved husband. Auntie Rosina reminds me of Anna, the faithful widow in the Bible who was able to hold our infant Lord. (Luke 2:36-38)
Uncle Jos was a seaman for 45 years, sailing the world as a fisherman. In his words, he was quite a character back in the day and used to fight anyone who came along. All the other sailors were afraid of him. One day after getting arrested for fighting and having his wife bail him out, Uncle Jos decided to give his life to Christ; and with God’s help, he was able to turn his life around. Uncle Jos’s eyes still well up with tears when he talks about his “misspent youth,” but I think he is able to relate to sailors and to share the love of God with them in a way that most people cannot. Because of his numerous shipwrecks, conversion, and Christian witness, Uncle Jos reminds me of Paul.
*Note: In certain cultures in South Africa, the term “Auntie” and “Uncle” is a sign of respect and affection for older adults.