By grace through faith


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{This is a transcript of what John shared with our church family yesterday morning}

We left the pastors conference on Thursday with one of the pastors and we went with him to his field. To the field of responsibility he had with his church.
We took a bus ride out of Bukoba a little ways and turned off a dirt road. We took a little bit more of a ride. Turned off that dirt road onto a little bit dirtier of a road. We took a little bit more of a ride.
We ended up the side of a hill.
A mountain.
And when you looked up, all you saw were trees and bushes. And in between trees and bushes were little trails. Little trails that led to little homemade brick houses.
We followed one of those little trails Friday afternoon to a humble home with straw on the floor instead of carpet.
No furniture.
We sat down and the host pastor that was with us and one of his members and they began to discuss in Swahili with this lady why we had come. They said “these mzungus from America have come to bring you the word of God” and she said to us “Karibu Sana”, which means you are very welcome here.
After they had chatted for a while, our interpreter turned to us and said “they are ready to hear the Word”. I began in Psalm 139 and said :

The Scripture says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That God put you together in your mothers womb. That when He was putting you together, He had a plan for your life. But the pride and selfishness? The scripture calls that sin and that moves us a long way away from His plan.

And the young momma, who was the lady of the house, sat in the doorway on the straw and listened to the mzungus share.
So I went on.

The Scripture says the cost of that sin that moved you away from God’s plan was death. And people of old obeying gods commands would sacrifice animals to pay for their own sin. But God loved us too much to let us stay a long way away from Him. And so He sent Jesus his son. And Jesus came and He died one time for all of sin. And if I would accept His sacrifice, and if I would accept what He says, I would move into the good of His plan and that God and Jesus would take me from a long way off and bring me close. And I can be made right with God through Jesus Christ.

She nodded along and I told her :

If you accept that sacrifice, you trade your life for His. That you are surrendering your life for His life. That He was crucified on a cross for our sins. He was buried for three days but Scripture says that He came back to life! And He didn’t just come back to life so He could be the God of the universe but He came back to life so He can come and live inside of us and enable us to do and be what He’s created us to be so that we can fulfill the plan that He had in mind when He was putting us together. And if you surrender your life to Him, that means that He’s the king of your life. Whatever He says for you to do, you do that and if you say yes to Him and what He tells you to do, you will enjoy the privilege of being adopted into the family of God. You enjoy the blessings of being in the Father’s house. You know what those blessings are? Those blessings are joy unspeakable and full of glory, peace that passes all understanding, purpose and direction for your life and you only find those in the Father’s house when you are in right relationship with Him. Jesus has made a way for you to be in the Father’s house but you have to call Him King. To surrender your life to Him.

Ma’am, is that something you would do?

And she said in a hushed tone, “Ndio”. That means yes!

And so I told her that :

God has gifted us churches and pastors to help us understand further the Word of the Lord and the plan He has for our lives. This pastor here is the pastor at your local church just down the hill and he will lead you.

So the pastor stood up and he moved over and put his big, long fingered hand on the side of her face.


He began to pray over her in Swahili and I have no idea what he said but I know a few words and there was a whole lot of “Baba” {Father} and “Mungu” {God} and “Jesu Christo {Jesus} so I figured if he said Father, God and Jesus a whole bunch, we did pretty good.
And he started to pray over that woman and explain the blessing and privilege.

See, she had on her wall a whole bunch of fragmented pages of outdated calendars with pictures of the pope and she was wearing prayer beads with a crucifix on it. Because, somewhere in her was a hunger for truth. She grabbed on to whatever represented God closest to her. And she was hanging on to that! And with the pastors hand along side her head, he began to explain to her that she doesn’t have to go through a priest. That Jesus is the high priest and has made an access to God the Father. He explained to her that she doesn’t have to work hard to get into Heaven anymore; that God has worked enough and that He has made a way for us to get in just by simply surrendering. That she doesn’t have to rub on that necklace and that Jesus is no longer on the cross but rather He died and was buried and that He rose again and that she didn’t need to rub beads anymore but that she could simply talk to Him about what He was doing.

And in simple faith, during the prayer, she grabbed the beads and took them off and laid them on the floor beside her.

I don’t know what happens after that.
I do know the pastor kept notes for them to go back and disciple and teach.
But here’s what God did to me. I began to ask him : Lord, is it really that simple? How is it that I can come over here and bumble through the language and choke through a story and through a whole other person taking my language and turning it into something else, that she would say “Ndio” {yes}?
I just felt the lord minister to me and speak to my heart right there on the side of the hill. He said,

John, it’s the same way YOU got in. By grace through faith. That’s how any of us get anywhere!

I began to pray through “by grace through faith”. How simple and necessary it is, not just for salvation but for every moment of our lives! That the step that got us in, is the step that maintains our walk.

By grace through faith.