Early morning in May 1963, as the sun was rising and the birds of the forest were singing songs of praise, in a small thatched mud house in Africa, a baby boy was born; weak and sick with no hope to survive. His mother, Victoria, a strong believer in God, told the priest to come and pray for the baby. The priest prayed for the water and sent it back with his brother to go and baptize the boy and name this baby John and said, “If he survives, he will be like John the Baptist.”
The father was not home but was at work. When he heard the news about birth, he rushed back home and found the newborn baby very sick. As a traditional healer, he named the baby Simbarashe, which means “God’s power” in his native language. He said if this baby survives, it’s nothing else besides God’s healing power. That boy survived and grew up. He became a preacher, evangelist, teacher, counselor, and pastor. He planted 51 churches and baptized more than 2,000 people in Africa before coming to the United States, where he is serving as the senior pastor of Shepherd House United Methodist Church and the Black Church’s chairperson in the North Carolina Conference.
As I reflect on my own story, I see God’s guidance consistently, providing for all our needs, protecting us, making us strong in our weaknesses, and caring for us like a farmer who cares for his garden.
During this Lenten season let us remember that there is hope for all of us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. John Gumbo is the pastor of Shepherd’s House Mission Congregation in Durham