A Life of Significance

This article was first published in The World Invader: the Students Living A Mission Newsletter, Issue 10, December 2003. You can read the whole edition here.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
— Acts 20:35

I am driven by this verse. My mind is renewed by this verse. This is how I want to live. This is how I’ve tried to live. This is how I’m going to live. Life is so short.

A good friend of mine and fellow laborer in God’s harvest was recently killed. He was only 47 years old. He was married and had two daughters. Life is too short. Bob’s life was too short. What is life? What counts? Bob would say a life of significance far outweighed a life of success. God renew our minds.

Elias Rukenya is in the front row on the right with the suit, shown here with several of the pastors he teaches and some of our 2003 summer internship team.

Elias Rukenya is in the front row on the right with the suit, shown here with several of the pastors he teaches and some of our 2003 summer internship team.

I would like for you to read a recent e-mail that I’ve received from our fellow laborer, Pastor Rukenya. Pastor Rukenya is the Director of G.O.D. in East Africa. I have not edited or changed the grammar, but I believe you’ll be able to understand his heart. I’ll be adding comments in italics so you can know context.

Dear Pastor Gregg,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are fine in the Lord and in his work. Thank you very much for the money which you sent on 12th December 2003. (Due to your financial support, we were able to supply funds to equip the Body of Christ in Kenya. Rukenya facilitates seminars for 32 Pastors each month and daily classes for the students at our training center.) This was of great help. It helped the seminar rally which was at Karurumo. The area is dry (saying the area is dry is a polite way to express that the poverty is extreme. If it is dry, then there is not food and people are starving) and people accepted Jesus. (That’s what it’s about.) At the same time we baptized four people.

The disciples are doing well. (At this time we have 7 full time students at the training center.) God is working in the life of Sammy (Rukenya’s youngest son) and I believe it is the prayers of brethren. Continue to pray for him and for Nicholas (Rukenya’s first born).

Many people (approximately 50 more!) want to join bible class (discipleship). I believe when you come in February 2004 you will come with a good plan. (This is his polite way of saying “you better come up with something” LOL.) It would be good for us to put a metal door in the training center please. (A metal door will keep thieves from stealing the books and furniture that are in the training center.)

The schools are opening on 6th January 2004 so it would be good to send the fee for the students before they open. (Our ministry supports 12 orphans in going to school and this summer we’ll build an orphanage for 20-40 of them.) When are you going to bring those missionaries I asked? (We have been praying that God will provide missionaries who will be able to stay in Kenya for 6 months to a year.) Let them come. They will be of great help. Kenya is not bad the way some Americans say. (Don’t take offense, he’s expressing that it is safe and the American media seems to make it out otherwise.)

Have you worked out my visa? God bless you as you do that. (We’ve been trying to get him a visa to come to the US and relate needs to some of the churches to rally support for the need in East Africa and also to continue his training.) I will meet with leaders on 10th January to brief them on your coming and these people they really hunger and thirst for seminars very much. (We’ve planned on going to Kenya in February, but at this time we are financially unable. Please pray for God to provide as the people are very hungry for the Word. When we go I teach about 10-12 hours of Bible to them a day. Believe it or not, sometimes we won’t eat and they will actually beg me to continue even past the point of having daylight; remember, there is no electricity.)

If we can get at least 500 dollars or so per month, this can help a lot. People need to know the Word of God. (The 500 dollars per month is a humble request considering it will minister to 12 orphans, 7 disciples and 32 pastors as well as his family. The money isn’t even for their needs, he is requesting it for their education in the Word of God. Pray God will provide.)

If you can get good Samaritans, (he is saying this in reference to all of you, he calls you good Samaritans because you are not of his people, but you are true neighbors who are caring for his people as if they were your own), it would be good if we can be provided with more equipment and strong ones. We also need some mattresses to use them in camps (30-50). There is a big need for this.

Gregg I love you and yesterday very early in the morning we joined hands to pray for you. There was a lot of tears in this prayers. May the Lord God bless you. Personally I have been in prayers and fasting for whole of last week. Prayers moves mountains. The love of God to me is the most important in this age. God bless you. I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! (End of letter.)

When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.
— Acts 20:36

As the year 2003 comes to an end, I would like to thank all of you for your hard work to help the weak. Thank you for your kindness and obedience to the Lord in serving through your prayers and financial support. I sit here writing this article with tears of joy because I see God working. When I first met Pastor Rukenya he was living with his 6 kids in a hut made of dung that was about 10x15 feet. That first month we stayed with him in his home he shared with me his heart. To the world, he was weak, he had no money, no opportunities and no one would give him a chance. I was only 21 years old at the time, I couldn’t do anything, but together we believed God could do something. Praise the Lord for all of you, because Rukenya is now able to fulfill a calling that the world thought he was too weak to accomplish. God has used you to give him purpose in the kingdom of God. The Lord is using him as he is becoming a powerful teacher of the Word and is helping the least of these in ways that none of us ever could.

Life is short. It is more blessed to give than receive. Make your life one of significance. Thank you for giving, may you receive the grace of the Lord in abundance this new year.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
— Acts 20:24