The Director of Missions for the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Revd John Mark Oduor, on how God answers prayer – but not as you might have expected.
The little boy, Jackson, grew up in a sleepy village in the expanse plains of the Great Rift Valley in the east African country of Kenya and as a child of a pastoralist his wildest dream was always to be a pastoralist like his father. One day he visited his uncle who lived in the plains across the ridges on the east side of the Great Rift Valley and was surprised at how many animals the uncle had. So he promised himself that when he grows up he will want to be a “Big” Shepherd like his uncle, with many sheep, goats and cattle.
He couldn’t believe that one person could own such a large number of cattle. He began to dream of how he was going to get them. Traditionally, his tribesmen would raid the neighbouring village or tribe and take their animals. To them it wasn’t stealing. They culturally believed that they owned all animals and so anybody other than his tribe was keeping it for them.
His dream got into his head so much that he would tell his friends and relatives that one day when he grows up, he will be a big rich shepherd with a lot of animals.
He remembers being forced to go to school and being removed from the sheep. He didn’t like it but one missionary insisted that he must learn to read and write. Which he did and his joy was that finally he will be able to count his cows himself. He was seeing his dream coming true as he asked God to help him be the “largest and biggest” shepherd in the Land.
Many years passed and Jackson’s prayer was still to be a big shepherd. God was faithful to the little Maasai boy’s prayer. God answered Jackson’s prayers but not as Jackson wanted but God’s own way. He became a chief shepherd.
His consecration and enthronement as the sixth Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya was attended by delegates from several countries and the chief guest was the President of the Republic of Kenya and so many dignitaries. He became the “Biggest and largest” Shepherd in the Land as Primate and Archbishop.
In another world, another culture, another shepherd boy prayed to God to make him a good big shepherd to his father’s sheep. His brothers didn’t like him because he talked about one day his sheep will hear his voice and they shall sing new song to Jehovah as he played his harp in praise to the Great I Am.
God answered his prayers too. A Prophet came home and asked for a son to be anointed King but his own father wasn’t sure he was worth listing in the sons worth mentioning. He became a “by the way Son”. When the prophet insisted on all sons be called, the father remembered David. God saw in him a shepherd he could trust with more than just sheep in the field. He prepared him for something larger and bigger actually the “Biggest and largest” responsibility in the land, to be king of the united kingdom of Israel.
So you should not be scared to dare to dream. God has a lot of places for dreamers. But don’t limit him with your dream just because today the only sheep you see are in the field. God owns sheep in a thousand hills and each hill has enough sheep and they could be different from the others.
May the Lord open your dreaming eyes see what the God of the Most Revd Dr Jackson Ole Sapit, and His Majesty King David, son of Jesse, can do with dreamers.