It is 9:30 am and already close to 100 degrees with the hot sun beating down. We shade our eyes to watch our foot placement as we walk the rough dry terrain of the paths to the remote huts where the people live which make up the members of the village. We are heading to visit a family whose daughter has been ill and the missionaries have been supplying medicine to them for her care. When passing a group of mud huts a woman steps out of the doorway opening and calls to us to come sit on a wooden bench under the one small tree in her courtyard. The Kabiye people view someone coming to visit them as a great honor and blessing and I am sure the woman was intrigued by people walking by her hut, which was probably a rare occurrence. They express their appreciation of your visit with a Kabiye statement similar to “thank you for journeying here.” If you see the conditions in the village you fully understand that going to visit someone entails a commitment of time and effort, is not taken on lightly and would involve some sacrifice on the part of the one making the journey.
We took a seat on the bench and the woman disappeared into the hut to emerge a few minutes later with a gourd bowl filled with a murky tan liquid. The missionary with us explained that this was fermented millet water which they drink called “chuke” and we were being welcomed. By tradition, you are then not “officially” welcomed into their home until you have been offered something to drink and you accept the welcome by drinking. It is as if they are offering to replenish what life force you have spent to make the journey to them and show how much they appreciate that effort and value your health and well being. The fact that you must work to go obtain water, it gives life and is so important has become such an integral part of shaping what they do. This takes on an even bigger meaning if you think about the fact that water is a precious commodity there and they do not hesitate to share that which they require to live, may not have a lot of and will take much effort to replenish.
So then this makes me ask – Do we ever say to Jesus “thank you for journeying here”? Do we recognize his efforts, his commitment and sacrifice to reach us? Do we welcome him with an offering which tells him how much we value his being here? Do we not hesitate to surrender whatever he needs us to, at whatever cost to ourselves?
Do we acknowledge how much he loves and values us and willingly chose to make the journey?