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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jesus Blessed a Boy Named Doudi

by Rick Blumenberg / @rickblumenberg

I had a friend in Africa. Pardon this theft of a phrase from a movie Carol and I enjoyed immensely. Actually, I not only didn’t have a farm, nor "a" friend but many friends that I enjoyed so greatly getting to know and love. The rest of my life memories of our time in Africa will be blessed by the people we met. Here I tell you about two of them.

Eliazer Mdobi was the Katiba Mkuu of Kanisa la Mungu ya Tanzania (Executive of the Church of God in Tanzania, Africa. He and his wife Ramona and their family had become good friends with our family during the short time we lived in that East African nation. When I preached, he was my interpreter and did a phenomenal job. Once, when I misquoted scripture, after he translated it, I said to him, “I got that wrong.” “Don’t worry” he said, “I straightened it out”. We worked together for months and it was always a great source of satisfaction and joy.

Once, Eliazer and I drove several miles to a village where we were to lead a weekend retreat. On arrival at the church, we sat momentarily in the Land Rover before we saw a small African boy who looked to be about three years of age. He was standing very close to the vehicle so when Eliazer opened the door, he did it gently to be sure he didn’t hit him. The boy stood looking intently up at us with the largest brown eyes I had ever seen.

He was absolutely beautiful. His expression was very serious as he looked intently at Eliazer and seemed to be unaware of me, which was unusual, because African children were usually fascinated by the Wazungu (Europeans, or white people; I think if taken literally it meant “people who travel here and there but have no home”). He was very small with his stomach distended abnormally far out over the tattered, dirty shorts that were his only clothing—obviously well cared for and obviously loved. He was probably older than he looked but undersized from poor nutrition. All-in-all, however, he looked not only healthy, but contented and his eyes were also full of interest and attentiveness. He was obviously a very special child.

Eliazer smiled a smile that sparkled in his expressive eyes and spoke to the boy in the local language, then picked him up and sat him on his lap after giving him a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. He was a beautiful little boy and Eliazer was a beautiful man with the gentleness of Jesus blessing the children.

I honestly don’t remember the little boy’s name. Maybe it was Doudi (Kiswahili for David) and maybe not, but I know I’ll never forget those delightful mental images. These days when Jesus blesses the children he usually does so through someone like Eliazer.

I’m Rick Blumenberg, and that’s My View from Tanner Creek”.

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