"when you enter a house, first say, 'peace to this house.' if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you...
"when you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'the kingdom of God is near you.'"
i previously wrote about how my new friend, walter, strikes me as being a man of peace. in fact, i would dare say that what transpired when i first visited him at his home is exactly what Jesus tells his disciples would happen when they were sent out to look for men [and women] of peace. not only were they proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom of God but they were also imparting the peace of the Holy Spirit upon the homes of those who were ready to receive it. Jesus tells his disciples to search for men of peace...and to spend energy on these.
so it is with ministry here. it has become clear that the words of Jesus in this instance [and as always] were particularly filled with wisdom...wisdom that can be easily applied to life in masiphumeleleh. simply walking the streets of this bustling township...let alone engaging in conversation with those you meet...can be overwhelming. and if one aimlessly walks without direction...moving toward any and every person that is seen...it will be truly exhausting as well. and i have surely experienced this fleeting search for a listening ear.
and so i have taken to heeding the words of Jesus to his disciples...to go out...being led by the Spirit...to men [and women] of peace. but i also wondered what this would really look like. what is a man of peace? and how would i know that this man truly is just that...and not a peaceful ticking time bomb waiting to explode if anything goes wrong...which i have witnessed before...just ask the sbr folks (how's that for a shout out...what, what!).
but as i have been learning more about following the Holy Spirit to the man of peace and in turn seeing the kingdom of God unfold in his life and his home, God has brought one particular man into the picture to show me the potential Jesus was speaking about when he shared this task with his disciples. and the result has been complete joy and awe-inspired amazement.
the man i am speaking of is joseph.
when we met joseph, jonathan, willie and i were prayer walking. that particular day, we prayed that God would set before our path...a man of peace. at some point, a man who had clearly been drinking stopped us to say hello and ask us for some money. we did not give him money but instead engaged in conversation with him. where are you from? are you working? do you have kids? and then...where do you live in site 5? turns out, he lives in the back of the wetlands...unvisited...and forgotten.
and so we asked him to show us where he lived so we could visit him again some time. reluctantly he showed us where he lived but refused to invite us in because he hadn't had time to clean. we did not push...but instead asked him what we could pray about for him. he told us that ever since an accident he had had where he was hit by a car while riding his bike...he has had severe back pain, headaches and was left permanently bent at the waist because of the pain. [we came to find out later that his accident was so severe that he was left in a coma...thought to be dead...and placed in a casket and brought to the morgue. He woke up in the morgue after nearly a month in a coma.]
and so we prayed for him...we prayed for peace to come to his home...we prayed that the Kingdom of God would draw near to this new friend...and we prayed for his healing...a hand placed on his head...a hand on his spine...and a hand placed on his heart.
and we prayed in faith...that God would heal every part of joseph...and that he indeed would accept the peace that we were bringing.
joseph told us to come back again...and so we did.
and when we visited just a couple days later...something was noticeably different. it was not just joseph either...it was his household...it was his family...it was all different.
it was clear that joseph had something he wished to tell us. when we asked him what had happened he proceeded to tell us the following:
joseph could stand up straight
he could move his head as it was meant to move...with ease
his back was no longer in pain
he no longer had headaches
he stopped drinking
he stopped smoking weed
his mind was clear
he wasn't yelling at his wife and kids
he would think before speaking when he was frustrated
he was not worried
he was sleeping at night
joseph had been healed
and he wanted to know how it happened.
Jesus did it.
and so we have been meeting with joseph and his family and anyone else joseph can get to come...twice a week...in a small...simple...house church. and walter is helping to ease the language barrier for joseph's wife. and walter has invited his neighbor.
and we have been talking about the Kingdom of God and how it has come to each of us in dynamic and real ways. and joseph can't stop smiling. he said the other day...after he was sharing with us about how he has finally found a family...that he has a problem. he said:
"you see...i have a problem...i cry when i am happy."
and the tears of joy have hardly stopped for this 62 year old man of peace.
you see...i think that is what happens when the Kingdom of God comes upon a person with the life-giving peace of Jesus...we can't seem to escape the joy that accompanies it. when peace came to joseph's house...he did not run from it...but he accepted it...
and in turn...it has changed his life.
while talking about john the baptist on wednesday of this week...joseph said with a grin on his face...i have been changed by jesus...so when are you gonna baptize me?
and so we had walter explain when...
because this sunday...we will be baptizing two men of peace...
walter and joseph.
and i pray that the peace that resides in both of their hearts through Jesus would pass from them to others as they begin to trust that the Lord would lead them...
...lead them to other men and women of peace.