Africa

Spreading the love of Jesus ... and peanut butter!

Dr. Steve Briix, academic dean, International College of Bible & Missions, Johannesburg

Many in South Africa ran out of food during the COVID lockdown. Our family prayed about how to help and soon Joseph came to our house asking for food.

I grabbed a jar of peanut butter thinking it would bless him. It does not go bad, tastes good, does not require cooking and offers lots of calories. When I handed it to him, Joseph made a face. “Don’t you have maize and beans?” he asked, offering the jar back to me.

“I don’t,” I told him. “We love peanut butter. It is really good and will help you not be hungry.” With a scowl, he took it and sulked away. I felt upset. Here was a “hungry” person who was not grateful for the good food we gave him. I felt like not giving any more if people were not grateful, but then was convicted that we should give not because people were grateful but because God would want us to help those in need.

A few weeks later, Joseph returned. I smiled and gave him some maize and beans. Frowning he said, “Don’t you have more peanut butter?”

“I thought you wanted maize and beans.”

“No, I would like peanut butter.” Unfortunately, I was out. He asked if I would consider buying him some because he loved it. I found out that he had approached other Americans in our neighborhood asking for peanut butter. Now, every week he comes asking for peanut butter.

I experienced similar things in America. I reacted to people's negative responses to my ideas by backing down, feeling I must have made a mistake. When in fact, frequently, time showed that my thoughts were spot on. Now when I face strange looks to some of my ideas here, like discussion-based classrooms or asking for specific applications to a passage of scripture, I have found that I can confidently present the idea and patiently give people time to try what I am offering. Usually people find they love the creative solutions, having experienced something new and pleasant.
 

God has also used this time to embolden me in sharing the gospel. Many people stop by our house thinking they need food, but what they really need is the spiritual bread of Jesus. Though I don’t tell people I’m a pastor, a number of local people who are homeless call me "pastor" as they come to our door to discuss Jesus and have me pray for them.

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