Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45, Matthew 20:1-18 (in Celebration Service), Phil. 1:20-30
Pentecost 17A, Sept 24, 2023
Theme: Mana from Heaven
God provides for us in so many ways.
I have a wonderful and inspirational memory from my early youth. It is of a man named Bokolaka* Pierre. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is the custom to address a person by their family name first, then their given name. By our customs he would be called Pierre Bokolaka – but that is not the name in my memory.
Bokolaka Pierre was a graduate of the Seminary** of Bolenge. He quickly gained respect for his scholarship and sermons. He married and had a son who also sought the profession of pastor and became respected in his profession. One day Bokolaka Pierre became ill, and an infection settled in his eyes. The infection was defeated, but not before he became blind.
Rev. Bokolaka loved his profession, and he was greatly respected by his parishioners. He struggled to continue in his calling. During this difficult time in his life, his son returned to the family home to assist in his father’s recovery. His father asked him to read the Bible to him every day.
It was not long before he and his son made a miraculous discovery. Rev. Bokolaka was able to remember the words from the Bible exactly the way his son read them. Over the space of 2 years, with his son’s assistance, he memorized the entire Bible as it had been translated into his native language of Lonkundo.
I remember as a 7-year-old child listening to him during conventions of pastors from the various districts near the town of Lotumbe where I lived. A person could randomly name a verse and he could immediately recite it. This was not just a parlor trick for he was also a great preacher.
The last time I saw him, he decided to go to a remote village called Kiri some distance away. He packed his belongings on his bicycle. No, he could no longer ride it, but he used it like a walker. He pushed it along the trail. If he wandered off the trail, he was able detect the added resistance of the taller grass and easily find his way up the path.
Before he left, I had the chance to ask him how he managed to memorize the entire Bible. He simply answered, “God Provides.”
Join us this Sunday for one of our worship services as we contemplate how God provides for our needs.
* I apologize ahead of time if the spelling of Bokolaka Pierre’s name is found to be incorrect. I am relying on my own childhood memory of the name.
** I use the term “Seminary” because although the school would not meet the standards set in the USA and the EU for such an educational institution, at the time (1955 – 1970) it was the best training for pastors available in that section of the world. Since that time, many from the Equatorial Province of what is not the Democratic Republic of Congo have had the opportunity to attend schools which qualify a fully accredited.