Unajua Jesu?

“Do you know Jesus,” was the question we asked Naha one afternoon as we sat on the floor of the baby home in Arusha, Tanzania. Naha didn’t speak English or Swahili so we had to ask her through our house cleaner who was taking a break from her mop and giving one of the babies a bottle. We spend a lot of time on the floor at Neema House Arusha playing with the babies, changing diapers and giving them their bottles. It is also a great time to talk about Jesus.
Naha is a Maasai and had been sleeping on the floor at Neema with her tiny twins, Elesha and Theresia for over a month. The babies and Naha were starving when Matt brought them in to the big hospital in Arusha. Almost as if they were outcasts, they were living in a small mud hut on the outskirts of a Maasai village in Northern Tanzania. It soon became apparent why they had been shunned by the village people. The babies were deformed with their hands permanently folded into tight balls, thumbs glued to their palms, legs pulled up tight to their empty tummies and tiny mouths that could barely stretch to suck a bottle. But they were beautiful and as we held them, Naha could communicate only with timid smiles hidden behind her hands. She had never been to school and could not read so we just held her babies, loved and kissed them, changed endless diapers and returned her smiles.
But that day, with Mama Lily in the room, we finally realized we could talk with Naha about Jesus. Mama Lily is also Maasai and speaks the language of the famous and once fierce Maasai people. So with my poor Swahili and Mama Lily translating we were finally able to talk with Naha about a Savior who came to give life and power and forgiveness. It was a sweet time as we watched this gentle woman begin to open her heart to Jesus. You just have to know Mama Lily though. I would say one sentence to Naha in my broken, what I call Kitchen Swahili, and Mama Lily would translate into long paragraphs of Maasai. I finally realized she was preaching her own sermon. But whatever it was it worked and one day after some talks with Michael, Naha said, “When I am baptized I will go after Jesus.”
So we took some nannies and went out to a beautiful Safari Lodge in Arusha to baptize Naha. Safari guests were lounging around the pool when our nannies began to sing “Sikuku, Oh Happy Day,” and the lodge staff came out to watch what I am sure was the first baptism in their sparking blue pool. I thought, ”Naha lives in a dusty dry village on the plains of Africa, she has probably never seen more than a bucket of water in her life and if she won’t get into the pool, so I whispered to Michael, I may have to get in with you.” But she jumped in and we cried and watched as this quiet, gentle woman gave her heart to Jesus.
After fifty years of ministry and in our retirement years, we thought we would just be taking care of abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies in Africa. God’s plans are always so much bigger than our thoughts and plans, aren’t they.