“God told me to give you something of value, something meaningful to me, and I don’t know why.”
I spoke these emotionally fragile, hope-filled words to a man named Timothy at the close of a very special retreat day with licensed trainers in Kampala, Uganda.
He traveled a long distance to Kampala in order to be a part of the retreat. In fact, it was his second trip to the city in five days. He first attended our two-day Great Trainer Summit, held at Kampala Evangelical School of Theology (KEST). Then, at considerable cost, he returned to KEST a few days later for our Ministry Retreat.
Timothy is soft-spoken yet very warm and friendly. Even before I met him I had heard of his kind generosity to Grace, our National Training Network Coordinator in Uganda. When Grace would go to Timothy’s town to train Sunday School teachers, Timothy made sure she had a place to stay and food to eat. When I met him at KEST on the first day of our Great Trainer Summit, I felt like I was in the presence of a truly humble man of God. I suspected I wasn’t there to teach him; I was going to learn from him.
At the close of our Great Trainer Summit, Timothy stayed behind to clean the meeting room while others hugged, took pictures, and said their goodbyes. I could hear Timothy singing a worship song as he joyfully moved chairs and picked up trash. What a model of servant leadership!
The KidZ Community Retreat
Three days later Timothy was the first one to arrive at KEST, once again with a song in his heart. This time, thankfully, I brought a borrowed guitar. Our retreat day officially began with Timothy leading out in singing: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name. Sing like never before, oh my soul, I worship Your holy name.”
Even before we arrived at the University that morning, I felt like God was inviting me to pay attention. He was going to ask something of me. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew I better look, listen, and respond in faith. By the end of the retreat, it was clear God was asking me to give Timothy my Bible. So I made sure I could speak privately to him after our closing time of prayer.
I told Timothy I had no idea why God was asking this of me. Surely he already had a Bible. Still, this one had special meaning to me. It was the first and only Bible I read entirely from cover to cover. I took it off the shelf in my office just for this trip.
Timothy shared with me later, through long-distance messaging, that he had been challenged by God while at KEST. Something drew him to want to talk to me, but he decided to wait. He would know it was from God if I first came and initiated a conversation with him.
God is speaking...Are we listening?
Sometimes God delays in answering our prayers – teaching us to wait while inviting us to lean in closer and trust His goodness. Other times God clearly says, “Watch this!” All the time God delights in showing us how active He is in our daily minute-by-minute walking-around life. Are we watching? Are we listening? Are we cooperating?
Timothy was listening and waiting on God. Simultaneously, God was asking me to pay attention and faithfully respond. Now, if Timothy looks at that small Bible with lots of dog-eared pages all cluttered with highlights, I pray he will hear God’s reminding him: “I see you, I hear you, and I love you.” We all need to be reminded of that.
Indeed, Timothy taught me something in Uganda which I pray I will never forget: The gratitude in my heart and the quiet humility of my soul are the postures that keep me open to the presence, power, and prompting of the Holy Spirit. It’s all about listening and responding.
That’s how Timothy walks with God, and I hope he will inspire all of us to do the same.