“Don’t ever leave your house without Jesus,” I remember Didier telling me as we sat in a taxi.
The Setting: Rebel armies closing in on the capital, Kinshasa; waging a civil “coup de tat” against Zaire’s then dictator Mobutu Sese Seko
The Scene: Three guys roasting in a stuffy taxi cab in a traffic jam: Didier (a friend), Doug (my teammate) and me
Didier had just returned from checking out what the holdup was. Upon his return to the cab he announced that soldiers had undergone some sort of skirmish in the intersection. Some were killed and others injured, the cars were not moving, and tensions were high in the crowds. We needed to leave.
After our taxi skillfully maneuvered a fabulous U-turn only a Congolese driver could pull off, we looked over at Didier and asked “How do you live here?”
There was of course more behind the question. I mean that kind of tension was an everyday occurrence for him. Add to that, economic instability such that he rarely possessed taxi fare forcing him to walk hours to his seminary class; only to return home on foot before evening military curfew to study and consume his meal for the day. Didier was used to watching the political regimes hold his country at a standstill. He knew the helpless feeling of injustice and oppression.
He knew poverty and he knew how to make the most of it. He also knew his position in Christ meant that his life was precious in the sight of the Lord. This was more than a Sunday School knowledge. Didier walked each day with Jesus, and the reality of their relationship prompted his response, “Don’t ever leave your house without Jesus.”
But he didn’t stop there, he went on to say “With Jesus you are as safe on the streets of Kinshasa this afternoon as you are on the streets of any city in North America, where you might as easily be hit by a truck. We serve an amazing God who knows us and cares for us.”
That kind of trust and calm amazed me. It was real and tangible.
Trust in Jesus is a reality most of the people know little about. Just talk to your neighbors about the news headlines, the words ‘trust’ and ‘Jesus’ are not common place. Society conditions us to protect ourselves and the daily new blows away any crumb of trust on the winds of fear. Knowing Jesus changes how I live today.
True safety comes not from what we can control. Rather, safety and security comes knowing whose we are.
I believe freedom at its most basic form is the possession of enough courage to live each day caring more about the well-being of others than I do for my own.