When we returned to Guinea Bissau in February we were met with several new believers in the church and three of which were baptized on Easter Sunday. It was neat to see the church grow in our absence and the great work our church leaders did in the church.
One of these boys is Timotio (Timothy in English). Timotio is an amazing young man, he is probably 16 years of age and suffers from epilepsy. Our church has been helping him with the medicine to control his illness. He pays for half of it and we cover the rest. It is neat to see him want to pay his part as that is not common here in West Africa. At the end of April he had a seizure at his home and fell into hot boiling water and burned his lower back and top of his rear end. Djibi, Adramane, and I went out to visit him about a week after the accident happened to check up on him. Upon arrival we found a much greater burned area than we had first thought and the family was applying treatment from local plants, which was not providing much help. We quickly asked if they were open to white medicine and prayed for him. The sun was setting and we needed to get back to Catel, so we promised to come back the next day with dressings and medicine. We have since returned four times, basically every other day, to clean the wound and apply new dressings. After one week the improvement in his spirit and wound was remarkable. Not to mention the testimony to the family from the church. Each time we visit we spend time praying and singing songs. How quickly the wound has healed is a testimony in and of itself, but that is not the best part of his story.
Timotio's faith is remarkable in such a horrible situation. He thanks God and prays continuously. He is apologetic to us for not being at church and begs his parents to bring him even though he can not walk very well at the moment. The journey to his village is 12 kilometers, that is 7.4 miles one way. Every Sunday he would walk this journey to and from church. With our visits, we have gone by motors and bikes and have never gotten to his village in less than a half hour. Our pastor Djibi said, “Timotio’s legs have strong faith.” Timotio never complains and faithfully attended church every week up until his accident. When we could, we would take him home or half way home. He never asks for money, food, or a bike. Twice he has had seizures at church. He gets up, leaves the church and just starts praying and asking God to help him.
This young man’s faith, his dedication to the Lord and the distance he travels, with a smile on his face, is an inspiration to me. Could you imagine faith like this around the world in church? I spent 10 years as a youth pastor working in the American church and frankly, we complain about everything from the temperature in the building, to the type of music, and even that the sermon was too long, or too short. We leave early for sporting events or anything else that comes up and stare at our watch the whole time we are at church. Maybe if we stop complaining and started being thankful for all God has given us our faith would become strong like this young man. Perhaps it is time to shift our focus on our maker and not our lives with all we think we need to do all day. With a 7.4 mile walk to church every Sunday imagine the time we could spend talking to and thanking our maker. This young man’s faith is simple and real because he has nothing else to hold on to or to interfere with his relationship. His room has a foam mattress, one blanket, one flashlight, and a picture of his mother. That is it. As mennonites our anabaptist roots are founded on simplicity and radical faith, two things I see in this young man. I think we can all learn a lot from Timotio and my challenge is to look into our hearts and do some spring cleaning. What do we need to let go of? What do we need to confess? What do we need to stop, to make time for God? Perhaps start walking to church? Everything we do, or do not do, boils down to a heart issue, what is the issue of your heart? My prayer is for God to continue chiseling me and strip away all that is of this world, to mold me and to see my joy come from God and only God, not my surroundings. Lastly, I pray to have a joyful, simple faith like I see in Timitio, he is truly an inspiration to me.
Written by Michael