Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true worship. Romans 12:1
When you think of the word sacrifice, what comes to your mind? For me, I think of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I think of Jesus’ crucifixion giving of himself for you and me. Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following definition for sacrifice: “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else” (sacrifice). Giving up for the sake of something else or someone else is a characteristic that seems to allude many people at times, especially when we think of giving up for the sake of Christ. There are times I find myself facing the challenge of sacrificing for Christ with thoughts of justification of why I do or should not move forward with the sacrifice I am facing. At times I see myself already sacrificing and ask, “why should I do more?” Yet, upon reflection what I think I am sacrificing, really is not a true sacrifice, it is just a small inconvenience to my life and choices I desire to make.
Over the past few months, I have met a number of wonderful people who pastor churches, their spouses, and children here in Kenya. As I spend time with them, I learn of some of the sacrifices they make to serve God in Kenya. Many of these pastors are from the lower financial class within the Kenyan society. A number of them do not have a secondary (high school) degree. They make very little money, for many working 12 -14 hours per day 6 or 7 days a week just to bring home enough money to meet the needs of the family is their goal. And yes, there are times they go without because they have not made enough to cover their expenses. They do not have a government that provides or subsidizes for their food, rent, medical/dental, etc. that is available to those in other countries like the USA.
When I started to listen and ask questions to pastors and their families over the past few months, I realized the sacrifice they are making. You see, they work many hours, which takes away from spending time with their spouse and children. It takes time away for their calling as ministers of the Gospel. For many, the only time they have to pastor is Sunday morning, yet they do seek to work into their day time to visit a sick person with in their congregation, etc. For some, their church is a few hours or more away from where they work and live, so they have to travel at their expense to be available on Sunday to preach or if someone else is preaching, help with other tasks. For most pastors, they receive no pay, or very little, no housing, or other benefits from the church because the church does not have the finances to do so. They struggle to see their church grow because of societal prejudices or lack of understanding. The jobs that many can do are looked down upon even though they are important. They are told if you are poor, do not have a church plot(land)/building, then why should I believe in your God, he is not blessing you. Even Christians who move into the area may look at them as not being blessed because there is a folk theology that if you are blessed by God you will have all the material blessings you want and need.
Yet, as I speak with them, their heart’s for their families, church, community, and those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ is deep and compassionate. They want to make a difference, they want to spend more time, but life circumstances limit their ability, yet, they continue to make sacrifices that maybe many of us may not make.
As you think of the pastors we work with will you pray:
- that God will bless their families and provide for their everyday needs
- for the efforts they put forth
- that those whom they minister will be open to the Gospel of Christ
- that God will help those who look down upon them because they do not have a church building (a number of churches in the larger towns and cities can not afford to buy land to build), a job that seems to be socially acceptable, a home that meets higher standards, etc. will begin to see the heart of God in these pastors and churches
- that the compassion they share to their communities will be seen in a way that draws new believers to Christ
- that the Holy Spirit will bring along people of Godly wisdom to help guide those steeped in cultural and folk theology into a stronger, more biblical understanding of God
May God Continue to Bless as you pray for the Ministry here in Kenya and all of Africa.
“Sacrifice.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 July 2017.