Ndogo and Other Small Things
Today, Carla and I set out for the town nearest to campus, Ongata Rongi. The charge on my watch battery ran out. I finally found a kiosk whose owner assured me that he could replace the battery. He made several attempts to remove the back of the watch; I decided that I might be making him nervous, looking over him and left the watch with him while we went to get something to eat. After our meal, I returned to the shop. My friend informed me, “It failed to open…”
So, unwilling to give up (I know my personality is showing!), I crossed the busy street dodging buses, vans, bicycles, donkeys pulling carts, and pedestrians and made my way to the grocery store where I had left Carla to do her grocery shopping. Inside, I found another small counter, a separate business from the grocery store, and I asked the young ladies if they could help me replace my battery. Again, they struggled to remove the back of the watch. In the process of removing and replacing the back of the watch, I heard several Swahili words that I recognized from our previous service in central Africa. I felt impervious and asked the ladies their meaning. “What is the meaning of ndogo (pronounced: “in dough go”)?,” I asked. “Small,” one of the young ladies said. After paying for the watch battery, I moved on to helping Carla. But this word ndogo has me thinking about small things.
As a matter of fact, it has reminded me of a promise that I made when Carla and I began this seemingly impossible challenge of raising funds to return to Africa. I made the Lord a promise. I promised the Lord that I would walk through any door He opened for us. The size of the congregation didn’t matter. The potential or promise didn’t matter. It wasn’t the size of the offering or the prestige of the pastor or anticipated size of the congregation. I promised that I’d be obedient… obedient to His open door. Let me share with you about one of those open doors.
The church was located about an hour and a half from where we were staying. We had been forewarned that the pastor was concerned about the sparse attendance and not to anticipate a good offering, if any. When we arrived, we were welcomed into the pastor’s home and had great fellowship with the pastor and his family. We had great fellowship with them! They had served previously as volunteer missionaries, and we felt right at home. When service time came, the same group around the pastor’s table was about the same group at the church for the service: the pastor’s family and two other young men (plus one at the church). We drove back home… our wallet wasn’t any fuller, but our hearts were.
Just a few weeks later, I received a phone call. The voice on the other end identified himself as the pastor of that church. He said, “Russ, I just wanted to call and thank you for coming to our church. I know that we lacked in attendance and offering, but God used your ministry. One of the young men present at the church that night received a call to missions! Thank you for coming!” The pastor’s words were a tremendous boost to me.
I am reminded of the prophecy of Zechariah: “Who dares despise the day of small things…?” (Zech. 4:10). It doesn’t matter how discouraging the beginnings may be, it is the power of the Spirit of God which ensures Zerubbabel’s success… and your’s and mine!
I now have a mnemonic device for remembering the Swahili word ndogo. It is “in do go” – in the door go. That is, my prayer is this: “Lord, I’ll go through any door you open… no matter how small it may seem. If you open it, do not let me judge the opportunity for its potential or lack thereof. Let me simply walk through it.” Let me obey… simply obey!