Dirt road to Africa

I still stand amazed at all the free stuff that you can get in this country. From complimentary flavoured milk to introduce a new range, to a hefty daily paper for your train journey, to a full-length, 220-page book that unexpectedly arrived at our door the other day.

(The flavoured milk I politely refused in my best South African “No, thank you” before finding out it was for free!)

But a free book I will never turn down.

Unleashed is the name of the book by Gavin and Anne Calver. The couple discusses the church in the time of Acts and how it can and should influence the church in 2022.

I’ll admit: It took me a while to get started.

But somewhere between the Preface and the Introduction I found myself looking around for a pencil to start underlining whole paragraphs. These words were rhythmically resonating with my own heart, and I wanted to remember.

“Over the years that have followed, we have often found ourselves in church settings where it feels like things could really happen, but for whatever reason, the congregation have got the spiritual handbrake on. For all that the Lord might want to do, we would rather not lose what makes us feel safe and, ultimately, what we control.

The problem is that when you pursue comfort, you get comfortable magnolia contexts.   When you follow calling, you get vision and direction.”

Magnolia is a light egg-custard yellow that colours each average class house wall in every street in every neighbourhood in England.

It’s a safe colour.

Most people tolerate it gladly.

I’m now in the last quartile of the book and I’m slowing down, wanting to savour the good stuff for a little while longer. In the book I read a passage from Acts 8 that I’ve not read in a long time: The section story about Philip and the Ethiopian. And the Magnolia gives way to something a lot more exciting …

Philip was doing powerful works in Samaria, and we read:

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptised, both men and women.

Even Simon believed [Philip’s message of salvation]; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he watched the attesting signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.”

Acts 8:12 AMP

Philip was in a safe place.

The crowds understood his message and were coming to faith.

But then he is told to go.

And he goes immediately.

On a desolate dirt road between Jerusalem and Gaza he meets a man that hungers after Jesus and Philip introduces him. He doesn’t deliver a carefully created sermon, he simply meets the man where he was, and he baptises him in the name of Jesus.

And that man became the first to take the Good News of Jesus into Africa.

How exciting! And Philip was most probably blissfully unaware of it.

Philip … the Ethiopian … you, child of Africa that is reading this right now …

The Lord has plans that reaches far outside church walls.

Wherever we find ourselves is exactly where we may meet someone that hungers for Jesus.

And He doesn’t ask carefully created sermons.

He asks that I take the next step as He shows it to me.

Where I am.

Immediately.

If it feels as if the Lord is giving your Magnolia walls a proper scrubbing right now, know that He is preparing you.

Your dirt road may just be the place of encounter that someone else may have been yearning for.

Your inspiration for the week: You reign

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