Friday, September 28, 2012


Today is the 10th Birthday for my youngest son, Timothy David Sanyu Jenkins.    Please share with me in blessing my son.   

 Bible verses that seem appropriate to summarize the Spirit of God living in Timothy are

 "You remember what the Lord said at Kadesh Barnea when he was speaking to the prophet Moses about you and me. Moses, the Lord's servant, sent me to look at the land where we were going. I was forty years old then. When I came back, I told Moses what I thought about the land. The other men who went with me frightened the people, but I fully believed the Lord would allow us to take the land. So that day Moses promised me, 'The land where you went will become your land, and your children will own it forever. I will give you that land because you fully believed in the Lord, my God.'

  "Now then, the Lord has kept his promise. He has kept me alive for forty-five years from the time he said this to Moses during the time we all wandered in the desert. Now here I am, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out, and I am just as ready to fight now as I was then. So give me the mountain country the Lord promised me that day long ago. Back then you heard that the Anakite people lived there and the cities were large and well protected. But now with the Lord helping me, I will force them out, just as the Lord said. 

 Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him the city of Hebron as his own (Joshua 14:6-13.)"

            For Timothy a phrase he has used to summarize his approach to life is “Give me these stairs.” 

            Timothy is a surprise adoption.   We did not seek him.  There was no human effort.  The Divine Will of God brought Timothy to our home.    

            Ten years ago, Jana was helping friends of ours; Brent and Inell Slater consider adoption.   Jana went with Inell to Sanyu Babies Home in Kampala, Uganda.    While there, the matron, Mama Joyce told Jana, “I have someone I want to introduce to you.”  Then she placed Timothy in Jana’s arms.   Their eyes met, and Jana said, “I’m a goner.”   

            Jana came home to tell me about Timothy.   Everyone else in our relationship network went to see Timothy.   I did not.   I tried to remain objective.   I counted the cost.   What would our lives be like if we did not adopt Timothy?   What would we lose?   The only thing I could conceptualize was money.  I came to only one conclusion.    I had never made a life changing decision simply by counting money.  I would not start with Timothy.   If Mama Joyce was led by God to place Timothy in Jana’s arms who was I to say, “No.”   Timothy would be part of our family.   This was the Will of God.

            As we left Sanyu Babies Home with Timothy in our arms surrounded by ecstatic Sophia, Caleb, Ethan, and Ruth I remarked, “We came as a family.   We’ve left as a tribe.  God will bless us.”

            We laughed frequently.   Timothy’s first sounds were not the “coos” of a baby.   Instead, Timothy growled and roared.   When I would enter a room he would look at me, and we would affectionately growl and giggle at one another.   Timothy’s strong will and joy were clear even before he could speak.

            At 10 months old, we began to notice that Timothy army crawled only using his left arm and leg.   He drug his right arm and leg.  We saw a pediatrician.   Timothy was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP).

            In a certain way the diagnosis was sobering.    Yet, in a strange way it was a blessing.   We had known other families whose son had CP.   With each one we had observed God giving a special guiding touch.   We anticipated He would also do the same for us.    Who were we to argue with God’s intent to bless us through a struggle of this created earth?

            We prayed for strength that Sunday at the Kampala Church of Christ.    That evening we went to the Nile Hotel to see Ndere Troupe.   We danced.   We laughed.   The dance was prophetic.   The last dance of the evening was traditional Rwandese.   The Ugandan crowd found greater joy in Rwandan dance than any of the traditional Ugandan dances.    Two years later we would arrive in Kigali pondering Rwandan dance.

The Ugandan Drum That Taught The Jenkins' Kids to Walk
            Timothy army crawled.   Then he did what all our children had done.   He pulled himself to standing on the drum.   Then he began to beat the drum.   His body moved in rhythm.   Then he took his first step.   His first step became a run.   Timothy David Sanyu Jenkins has never stopped running since.

            A few notice that Timothy has a bit of an odd step.  His right arm barely functions.   His right leg is shorter than the left.   Yet, when Timothy runs all the disadvantages of this created earth disappear.    He is usually the fastest of his peers at school.   He usually leads in goals scored in soccer matches.  In running God’s pleasure in Timothy is found.

Timothy at Victory Soccer Camp This Summer
            A man of old, named Caleb had a similar spirit.   As a young man his faith and courage far exceeded his peers.   As an old man he went to war with fellow soldiers 40 years his junior.   His strength of both spirit and body was unstoppable.    The Lord was the source of this enduring strength.   His requests to the Lord were not for a life of ease, but for all the Lord intended.   His request was, “Give me this mountain country.”

            Two months ago, I went to register Timothy at Lowell Elementary School in Wheaton.   We toured the school.   Lowell had four classrooms dedicated to fourth grade.   Three classrooms were on the ground floor.   One classroom was on the second floor.   Timothy’s mind like Caleb's of old went to work.   If he carried his books up the stairs each day his strength and speed would increase faster than his peers on ground level.   Timothy asked to be in the class on the second floor.   Few nine year old boys’ minds function this way.   Yet, Timothy has always run up stairs and hills.   He has always created his own special training regimes.  
            I considered calling Lowell’s principal with this strange request.   “Give my son these stairs.   Push him hard.    Make him carry many books home.  Ask him to carry other student’s book bags up and down those stairs.”    Yet, my wise wife cautioned me that I’d look like a psycho soccer dad with such a request.   Timothy and I chose to ask God for the stairs.

            God gave Timothy the stairs.   He is in Ms. Kraft’s fourth grade class on Lowell Elementary School’s second floor.   Thank you God.

Timothy in an Uganda Cranes and Dave in a Rwanda Amavubi Soccer Uniform
            Now, may Timothy be blessed with a life of risk.   May his life be one that requires him to seek out hills and stairs.   May his courage, faith, and strength grow.    May Timothy see God’s favor when his peers are full of fear.   May Timothy as a mzee (wise old man) have the strength of youth.    May Timothy be an enduring model of faith that generations of others will emulate.

            Thank you God for giving Timothy those stairs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


A little known missionary fact – Office Bouncing is as much a part of the missionary game as dribbling is part of basketball and soccer.

                Many missionary supporters don’t know about Office Bouncing.

                Many missionaries despise Office Bouncing.

                Some of my better Banyarwanda (Rwandan) friends have whispered that many contemporary missionaries are neither relevant nor influential.   However, if you watch the missionaries whom nationals admire you will notice they are masters at office bouncing.

                A quick Google search of “Definition of Office Bouncing” did not get a single relevant hit.   Let me tell the secret.   In my early days in Uganda I followed two Office Bouncing masters.

                The first was Peter Ngobi.    Peter was the real estate agent who helped us find our first home.   He also kept us safe by letting us know rumors of possible civil strife.     Peter “bounced.”   His family was well connected, but did not land well in the dispersion of inheritances.    He seemed to know everyone.   Without earthly inheritance Peter masterfully used human capital.    His savvy with knowing property owners and potential renters was invaluable.   He moved around making friends and putting friends together.    Peter did with shoe leather what twitter and face book attempt with wifi.

Master Office Bouncer, Gaston Tarbet with wife, Janet
                The second was Gaston Tarbet, Jana’s dad.    During a missionary’s first days in a new nation the first tasks are government documentation.    Many missionaries dodge the office bounce.   Gaston embraced it.    You dress well.   You print business cards.   You write a letter of explanation.   You go and visit government bureaucrats for the first time.    You wait patiently for your turn.   While waiting you read and pray.    When you meet them you treat them with respect.   You never forget to pastor first.   You try to learn a few details about their lives.   After your meeting you pray and bless them.

                Office Bouncing is the act of moving from office to office like a ball bounces with the purpose of making an enduring friendship for an eternal purpose.   Some think it is about ticking off items on a TO DO List.   The TO DO list will be finished at the appropriate time, but Office Bouncing is kingdom work at God’s pace.

                Many missionaries complain about Office Bouncing.   They see it as a waste of time when they “have to preach the gospel.”    Many supporters don’t get the first months and years of adjustment either.   If both are patient they’ll see profound relevance and influence.   Good Office Bouncers register churches and organizations, get visas, keep documents relevant, pay taxes, listen well, and nurture a community’s hopes.   They are the point guards of missionary organizations.

                A few have inquired about what our first months in Chicago (Cyikago for us Bantu speakers) is like.  It is Office Bouncing.

Caleb with Sophia and Ethan at Third Culture Kids (TCK) Camp
                Allow me to tell the story of enrolling our oldest son, Caleb in school.

Caleb with friends at KICS 2012 Prom
  1.  This was to be Caleb’s senior year in high school.   However, he had the misfortune of landing in a new location in the USA during his senior year.   After some inquiries it seemed the best option was for Caleb to take courses at a local community college (College of DuPage / COD) in lieu of his senior year to prepare to enter a top Christian liberal arts college in the following year. 
  2.     Caleb visited a friend over the summer.    In the process of travel he lost his passport.   We assumed he would not need his passport until his next opportunity to travel outside of the United States.
  3.    Our family acclimated to life in Wheaton, Illinois by joining the Wheaton Library and Park Association.   In the process Caleb received a Park’s Card.
  4. All of our family had physicals and updated immunizations as we returned to the USA.   The kids all needed these to be accepted into educational institutions.
  5.   Caleb applied to the College of DuPage / COD and was accepted though he did not have a high school diploma.   We understood he could be accepted as a dual credit student and take credit to both finish high school and receive university credit.
  6.      Caleb and I applied for financial aid (FASFA).   As we finished the application we received information that led us to believe that Caleb would receive a Pell Grant and Student Loan to pay for expenses at the COD.  
  7.  Caleb and I went to the Financial Aid office at COD.
  8. The financial aid office informed us that in order to get financial aid Caleb must have either a High School diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED.)
  9.  Caleb and I went to the COD GED office.  (Note in Office Bouncing that eventually it develops its own localized vernacular consisting of acronyms.   The best Office Bouncers are acronym linguistic masters.)
  10.    The August GED registration was full.   We inquired about the on-line GED versions we’d seen frequently and were told they were not acceptable to COD.
  11. We attempted to register Caleb for the next COD GED in September, but in order to register needed a government issued photo ID.
  12.   The COD GED office would not take Caleb’s Wheaton Park’s ID as photo ID. 
  13.   Caleb got a COD student photo ID.   The COD GED office would not accept Caleb’s COD student ID as a government issued photo ID.
  14.   Jana then joined the journey as we went to Wheaton’s Post Office (PO) to apply for a replacement passport.   We thought this was just a nudge from God to get a passport and be ready for travel.
  15.  When we got to Wheaton’s PO they would not take a USA passport application without a photo id of Caleb.   The Wheaton PO would not accept Caleb’s Wheaton Park, nor COD ID as a valid photo government issued ID.   They sent us to the Wheaton Illinois Office of the Secretary of State (IOOTSOS) to get an Illinois State ID (ISID).
  16. At the Wheaton Illinois OOTOS we were told that in order to get Caleb an Illinois State ID Jana or I must sign an affidavit affirming that we were Caleb’s parents.   The affidavit required for us to have Illinois State Driver’s Licenses.
  17.    We decided since we were at the right office we may be well served to apply for an Illinois State Driver’s License.   As we attempted to fill out the application we were told we needed our USA Social Security Card.    Jana and I knew our Social Security (SS) numbers and filed taxes, etc… but we could not remember having our SS cards in years.
  18.  We went back home and looked through our documents for our SS cards, but had no luck.   They must have been lost (most likely for me in the fall of 1985 as I was washing clothes as a freshman at Harding University - HU.)
  19.    Jana and I found the on line application for SS Cards and filled out the application.   The application asked for our parent’s (Gaston and Jan Tarbet – AKA GJT; and Lloyd and Lois Jenkins – AKA LLJ) SS numbers.  We called GJT and LLJ to get their numbers.   After getting the numbers we burned the piece of paper it was written upon.   (Just kidding, but DJ’s “little brother”, Tim (TJ) is a US Marine (USMC), we’ve lived in Africa for some time, and we will really make life miserable if we catch an identity thief.)
  20.    DJ and JJ went to the SS office and applied for new SS cards.
  21.    While at the Illinois Office of the Secretary of State (IOOTSOS) they mentioned if Caleb had 2 pieces of “official mail” plus his SS card he could apply for an Illinois State ID (ISID).  “Personal mail” would not count.  
  22. Caleb had “Official mail” from COD, but not another piece of mail.   Caleb also still had his original SS card.  We called John Osborne (JO), Rwanda Outreach Community (ROC) Partners Chairman and Oklahoma Christian University (OC) Director of International Studies to request for OC to send Caleb “Official Mail.”   (We also contacted other universities and the ACT office to see who could get Caleb “Official Mail” to our home the fastest.)
  23. A few days later we had “Official Mail” and went back to the IOOTSOS to get Caleb an ISID.
  24.  With an ISID we went to the COD GED office and registered Caleb to take the GED.
  25.   Last week, Caleb took the GED.

Currently, our unfinished Office Bouncing TO DO List includes:

  1. Receive Caleb’s GED scores.   (We’re confident he smoked it.   Remember this is the kid who read encyclopedias and then asked his parents questions to test our intelligence.)
  2.  Correct Caleb’s FASFA with a GED.
  3. Discuss with COD’s Financial Aid Office how to get the Pell Grant and Student Loan.
  4.  Apply for Illinois State Driver’s License.

Yet, Office Bouncing with Masters has taught us that our TO DO List is still filled with many unknowns.   Thus we should expect to bounce just a little more than we anticipate.

The Jenkins' boys with Gabriel Mugisha Jacobs
What have we learned?

  1. Office Bouncing is part of life.   Everyone does it.   Every nation and culture requires it.   Anthropologists call these, “Rites of Passage.”   We must go through trials to become mature in a community.
  2.   Office Bouncing is Biblical.   Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in writing Acts seemed to take special care to let Theophilus know that those following Jesus as the Living Lord did all they could to honor Roman government process.   Paul likely had Office Bouncing on his mind when the Holy Spirit led him to write Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Timothy 2:1-8.
  3. Office Bouncing is most pronounced when one is in transition.    If one lives in the same location these tasks have a rhythm and order.   As one starts afresh they feel like drinking water from an open fire hydrant.
  4.   Office Bouncing creates opportunities for Gospel proclamation.   One of the fruits of 19 years is the number of people we met Office Bouncing who shared our journey of following Jesus.
  5.    If Office Bouncing never produces satisfying ticks on a TO DO List it does shape our character.   For this we are thankful.
  6.       May God bless all of our supporters in North America who Office Bounce.
  7. May God bless all of our missionary sojourners, both Bazungu (White) and Bafrica (Black) who Office Bounce.

Enjoy your Office Bouncing Journey,


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


A Little Coffin in Use

Nineteen years of memories – What do I see when I close my eyes?   

                The dearest of Africa’s Great Lake’s memories – dance, celebrations, bountiful meals, weddings, baptisms, Christmas, Palm Sunday, Easter, football (soccer)goals, cheering crowds, and children’s laughter.

                Yet a few memories haunt to the deepest part of my soul.   Some memories still cross my mind that causes my body to jerk and shake.   Old pastoral literature occasionally pulls the veil off of pastor’s souls to disclose that we are wounded healers (David Hansen and Henry Nouwen have written wonders on these matters.)    Some have compared our wounds to those of wounded soldiers in a war.    Old missionaries remind me that we came to a battle.   We’ll be scared if we wade into the fight.   In the still moments we close our eyes and feel again the wounds of battle.

                Pastors are to be men of love.   Yet sometimes we hate.    The dictionary defines hate as to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; and detest (    The dictionary does not do justice to pastoral hatred.   The things I hate I hate with much more intensity than words can describe.

                Memories of missionary pastoral hatred occasionally waken my sleep.    I hate little coffins.

                Before getting on a plane to Kampala, Uganda in 1993 I read the news.    Some research concluded as much as 30% of Uganda’s adult population in the early 1990’s was HIV positive.    Could such startling statistics be true?

                Jana, Sophia, and I arrived in Entebbe Airport in March 1993.   Light bulbs hung from wires in customs.    Uganda was recovering from years of chaos.    Debra Tarbet Carr met us.   We bundled our luggage in a Toyota Corolla Hatchback.    Then we began the journey.   We left “the new airport,” and drove past “the old.”   Debra knew my historical mind, and pointed out the airport where Israel’s famous “Raid on Entebbe” took place.   Then we drove past the banana plantations and small dukas (kiosks and shops) that dotted the old Entebbe road.

                Then we reached Katwe, the edge of Kampala.   Katwe was the small scale industrial hub of Kampala.   Expatriate friends referred to it as the wal-martization of Uganda.   (Kampala was just a big Wal-Mart store.   All you needed was to find the section of town that sold what you needed and start looking.) Katwe had a section of gates.   The competitors were right next to one another with a plethora of options.   Katwe had a section of furniture.   Again, the competitors were next to one another with bountiful options.  
Coffins being manufactured in Kampala, Uganda
Katwe also had a startling coffin section.    I hope my memory is colored by years and culture shock, but I remember it stretching for hundreds of meters.    The number of coffins was sobering.    AIDS was obviously devastating Uganda.    I believe in the theory of understanding called, “Follow the money.”   If one followed the economic boom of Uganda in the early 1990’s one had to notice the booming funeral industry.   Death was everywhere.    Within the hundreds of coffins were small child sized coffins.    Hatred for those coffins was the only emotion I could feel.    AIDS was an indiscriminate killer.

Our first missionary task was “office bouncing.”   Most missionaries hate it.   I thoroughly enjoy it.    Office bouncing is the gathering of legal documents.   It involves registering organizations, keeping their documents current, getting visas, paying taxes, etc…    The pragmatic key to office bouncing success is pastoral – make friends, pray, see the mundane as an opportunity to speak good words for the Lord.    

Over time those who bounce offices well are those of great influence.    Yet, office bouncing in Uganda in the early ‘90’s had one glitch to efficiency – the commonality of death.    

Africa’s Great Lakes culture at her best is one of community compassion.     We live in a web of social obligation.     When a member of our community is in trouble we drop everything and go to help.    Funerals are one of those moments.   Yet there is also a dark side to the practice of community compassion.   Some put on illusions out of fear.    For instance, if one does not attend a funeral some in the community will assume that missing one was actually the cause of another’s death.    AIDS changed Africa’s culture rapidly as urban myths were created.     Why did we have so many deaths?   Some concluded it was witchcraft and poison.   Thus from both fear and compassion each death stopped all in the deceased’s social web.

Pragmatically, it meant office bouncing was frequently a hurry and wait, start and stop, series of visits.   Office bouncing frequently was met with vacant offices as bureaucrats left work to attend funerals.

With much of the death one could find marginal reasonableness, self-justification, and the illusions of prophetic hope.    I remember messages in Balokole (evangelical / “saved”) churches that predicted a glorious Balokole coming day.    “You see AIDS kills the immoral.   It is God’s judgment.   In a time to come only “the saved” will remain.   We will rule.”

Little coffins were not so easy to justify.  How does one explain the death of children in a world of self-justification?

I hoped to never know a little coffin.

Besides the first days in Uganda’s startle of little coffins I also first heard automatic gun fire while staying at Rubaga Social Training Centre (a guest house run by the Catholic Church.)   I pushed Jana and Sophia to the ground while the crowd laughed at me.    The sound of gunfire would become ordinary over the years, but at first it was startling.    My Ugandan friends explained that gunfire is usually just watchman or police shooting in the air to frighten a suspected thief.    The wise were home at night inside a locked door, a gated compound, and employed someone to watch their home through the night.    For our first year in Uganda many privately hired policemen to be personal body guards.    

Our first home was located just two doors down from a police post so I hired policemen to guard our home.    They were disappointing.    I found them asleep.   I found them drunk.    I needed to make a change.

One of the wonders in the early ‘90’s Uganda was the RC system.    When Museveni was in the bush fighting a guerrilla war (1981-1986) eventually the hit and run maneuvers faced the pragmatic task of governing.    When Museveni’s enemies were thoroughly defeated in a region there was no need to run after the attacks.   Now the civilian population needed leadership with roots.    His guerrilla army could not step into the void of governing and continue the battles.    Thus he instituted a highly empowered local leadership structure called the Resistance Committee (RC) System.   Among roughly 4,000 people in a community nine would be elected locally to manage the affairs of a community.    Their responsibilities ranged from repairing roads to marital counseling to maintaining the security of a community.   After January 26, 1981 when the National Resistance Army captured Kampala, the RC system became the governing structure of Uganda.

My Abilene Christian University days were shared with Charles Guma, a Ugandan student.   Guma was with us in Uganda as we started.   One of his counsels was to quickly introduce ourselves to our RC Committee.   We became friends quickly with David Muwonge, our RC Chairman.    David became a father like figure to us.

As we struggled to know what to do with the drunken and sleeping policemen guarding our home, David suggested making a new hire.   He brought to our home, Mzee (wise old man) Lasto.   Introductions were shared.   Lasto had immigrated to Uganda from Tanzania many years prior.   He had married a Muganda woman.   He had children and grandchildren.   He had made his living as an askari (watchman).   David told me that Lasto did not drink, could stay awake long hours, and was faithful.   I chose to trust David thus I chose to trust Lasto.    We surprised Lasto by telling him the job started that night.   He asked what weapons we would provide.   At the time we had none.    Lasto surprised us as he began collecting rocks, and making piles at strategic locations.  If a thief entered our compound that night he would have been pelted by rocks from our askari hidden in shadows.  Lasto was resilient and would not be caught off guard.  

The following morning I greeted Lasto with my limited Kiswahili, “Mzee, habari ya asubuhi?   (Wise, old man; how was your night?”   He responded with, “Mzuri sana (Very good.)”  The next evening when he came to work, I greeted him, “Habari, mzee (Wise, old man; how are you?)”   He responded, “Mzuri sana (Very good.)”

Sophia playing with Lydia Bagira's son, Joel
These greetings became our daily rituals.   On occasion, Lasto would interrupt ritual and protocol.    One night came Jana and I attempted to parent infants like Americans.    Sophia was always a snuggler.   She was also a “snack and nap kid.”   Parenting Sophia as an infant meant she was always in physical contact with us.   When she was hungry she cried.   By Jana nursing Sophia she was quickly appeased and fell asleep.   Then a short time later the process began again.    As we moved to Uganda we finally concluded it was time for Sophia to sleep alone.    American Christian parenting books assured us this was the right step.   We must place Sophia in her crib and let “her cry it out.”   

The following morning, Lasto followed the greeting with, “Habari mtoto (How is the child)?”  When I responded, “Mzuri (good),”  Lasto connected the dots.   We had let a child cry through the night.    All African protocol and employer / employee institutional authority was lost.    I’m sure Lasto’s mind was filled with questions about what kind of cruel race and family we must represent.     African wisdom insists on nurturing and touching children.    Only in the most destitute of situations would one not do all one could to comfort a crying child.    Lasto let me have it.    My Kiswahili was not good enough to follow Lasto’s tirade, but I learned my lesson.    Sophia would never again cry through the night.   She would sleep with us and snack and nap until she decided that she was old enough to sleep on her own.

Mzee Lasto loved children.

Sophia began to walk beating and dancing to an African drum.   Sophia began to speak.    She quickly caught on to preferred languages.    Jana and I preferred English.   Her first words to us were in English.   Our Ugandan staff preferred Luganda.   Her first words to them were in Luganda.    Mzee Lasto preferred Kiswahili.   Her first words to Lasto were in Kiswahili.

Our family settled into routine.

One evening the routine fell into tragedy.    When I greeted Lasto with, “Habari, Mzee? (How are you, wise old man?)”   Lasto responded, “Mbaya.   Mbaya sana (Bad.   Very bad.)”    

I inquired with my best Kiswahili and heard the word I hoped to never hear, “Mtoto (child).”   Something very bad had happened to a child.

I called Jana and Lydia Bagira (whose Kiswahili was better than mine) to inquire what misfortune had befallen a child.    The startling translation was death.    Mzee Lasto’s infant granddaughter had died.   In fact, she had died of AIDS.    Mbaya.   Mbaya sana were the only words fitting to describe such tragedy.    We would see a little coffin in use.    I hate little coffins.

When my hatred for little coffins met pastoral love I volunteered to transport the little coffin with an infant’s body to the home village.   I also offered to preach the funeral sermon.

Pastoral hatred is a haunting journey.    Memories of old filled my mind.

One of my favorite missions’ professors at Abilene Christian University, Wendell Broom once remarked, “There is no problem the resurrection cannot solve.”

Jesus raises Jairus' daughter
The Senior Minister at our overseeing congregation at that point in our Uganda journey, Dr. Royce Dickinson seemed to always find his way to stories of the resurrection as he preached.   

The only way to make sense of the pastoral hatred of little coffins this side of heaven was in the resurrection.

Death is a separation of the spirit of life from our bodies.    It can be a sweet transition.   Some are so privileged to live upon this earth that they can remark, "LIFE SHOULD NOT BE A JOURNEY TO THE GRAVE WITH THE INTENTION OF ARRIVING SAFELY IN AN ATTRACTIVE WELL PRESERVED BODY... BUT RATHER TO SKID IN SIDEWAYS, CHOCOLATE IN ONE HAND, BIBLE IN THE OTHER, THOROUGHLY USED UP, TOTALLY WORN OUT & SCREAMING, "WOO HOO ... WHAT A RIDE!  (Again a Wendell Broom quote.)”

Yet, death also is horrible.   In a world without morticians it stinks.    It is painful.   It is final.  Death of innocent children to a disease that sucks out all pleasures of this earth is atrocious.   I hate little coffins.   I believe my boss also hates little coffins.

There are 4 stories of resurrection in the Gospels.   Two are of children.   One is of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.   The final one is of the Lord Jesus himself.    My Boss is the Resurrection.    He also hates little coffins.

A sick child on the verge of death makes us drop all pretension and protocol.   A Jewish religious leader named Jairus came in desperation asking for the Lord’s healing of his daughter (Mark 5:21-43).    At first it seemed too late.   When the crowds told Jairus that his daughter had died and it was time to cease bothering Jesus, the master teacher; Jesus, the BOSS OF THE LIVING AND DEAD told Jairus to not fear but believe.   Then the Lord went with an intimate group of mentorees and family to touch the 12 year old little girl.  Then he pulled her by the hand to her feet.    The crowd initially laughed at Jesus courage to proclaim the girl was just asleep.   Now they were astounded.    Because Jesus hates little coffins He is the Resurrection.

Jesus Raises Widow's Son
Another time my Boss entered the town of Nain.   It was a chaotic moment.   Jesus entered with a crowd.   Another crowd was leaving.   Jesus’ crowd of anticipation met a crowd grieving with a widow who had lost her only son.   I can’t imagine this woman’s grief.    Academic minds will quickly point out that a widow who lost her only son was completely on her own after the funeral.    Economic disaster with utter loneliness would follow this widow to the grave.    Jesus must have hated that coffin.   He told the widow not to cry.   He touched the coffin.   He commanded the young man to arise.   Because Jesus hates little coffins He is the Resurrection.

Shortly before Jesus entered Jerusalem to begin the Passion he met dear friends, Mary and Martha, who had just lost their brother, Lazarus (John 11).    Again, the situation is full of confusion.   Grief throws humanity into loss and despair.   In the midst of this mystery, timeless truths are spoken and lived.    A Resurrection day is coming.   Jesus, my Boss is the Resurrection.   My Boss hates coffins.   My Boss loves from the deepest part of His heart.   He wept for His friend’s loss.   He weeps for our loss too.   Out of this Divine Anger and Grief comes true Power.   He commanded Lazarus to arise.   My Boss is the Boss of the Living and The Dead.   Lazarus rose. 

Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
All four Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ Resurrection.   I believe it to my core.   My hatred of little coffins only can be consoled by the hope of a Resurrection.   

Thus early in the morning in 1993 I went with David Muwonge to Mzee Lasto’s home.   We picked up a little coffin that contained the infant body of Mzee Lasto’s granddaughter.    We placed it on the roof rack of my Toyota 4WD Lite Ace.  Then we preached the Resurrection in deed.

The funeral industry in Uganda made a killing on transporting bodies.    Many AIDS sufferers came to Kampala in the closing days of life to get whatever medical treatment could be found.    The treatments were generally better than the village, but still pathetic compared to North America or Western Europe.   After the dying breaths the deceased’s community would need to transport the body to the home village for burial.    Only the richest of rich had their own transport.   Some relied on connections with Kampala’s elite who may loan a vehicle to extended family for transport.   However, many were stuck.   Thus the opportunistic business people gouged the grieving with extravagant prices to transport a body to the home village for burial.   

Our old Toyota Lite Ace at Work
David and I tied the little coffin to the top of my roof rack.   The fuel was my gift.   None of my friends would be gouged in grief.   I hate little coffins and the actions of little coffin profiteers.

A crowd gathered around my vehicle and began to place eggs under the wheels.   Thankfully, I had sat at the feet of missionary bzee like Shawn Tyler, Monte Cox, Gailyn Van Rheenen, and Gaston Tarbet.   I knew the message of the eggs.   It was pure animism, paganism, and an affront to my Boss.     The eggs were sacrifices to hovering spirits.   They were an attempt to appease malicious spirits intent on bringing misfortune to our journey with a community of those grieving for the loss contained in the little coffin.   I spoke an angry message.   It is one of the few times where I’m still convinced my anger was my boss’.    The eggs were gone.   We said a prayer trusting my Boss’ protection.

We reached the home village.    I was seated on a chair among the bzee (wise old men).   The community offered a chair to Jana.   My wise wife refused the chair.   She sat on the ground with the women and children.   The crowd giggled and then clapped.    My wise wife’s humility had earned both her and me immense moral authority.   She refused to take honor that was simply about race.   She knew by sitting with her Ugandan peers she showed honor to the family.   By giving honor to the family she won their respect.

Mzee Lasto introduced me to the village crowd as, "Mukama wange, Daudi Jenkins (My Lord, David Jenkins.)   I was shocked to be assigned a title of divinity.    Then I asked David Muwonge quietly if I had hear correctly.   "Yes," he replied.    "You are mzee Lasto's boss."   The simple introduction would have profound impact on my view of discipleship.

I remembered Royce Dickinson discussing church worship debates in the USA.   He pointed out that American culture has no gestures to communicate honor.   Americans also seem to have no language to communicate submission and honor.   Lasto in one introduction taught me that Lordship is about honor and submission to a boss as well as to divinity.

A Young Dave Preaching in a Ugandan Village
Speeches were made.  I was asked to preach.   I spoke the simple old message of the Gospel.   I told the stories of the Resurrection.   I prayed the 23rd Psalm to comfort.   I sat down.

The little coffin was lowered into the grave.   We each threw a handful of dirt into the grave.  Then the village laborers filled it to the top.   It was over.

We had a meal.   We drank chai.   We journeyed back to Kampala.

A few months later, Mzee Lasto again told me, “Mbaya.   Mbaya sana (Bad.  Very Bad.)”   When I inquired I was told, “Mtoto.”   When Jana and Lydia translated we found that Mzee Lasto’s daughter had died of AIDS.    Her coffin was not little.   We went through the same ritual with the same message again.

My most startling memory of the day of Mzee Lasto’s daughter’s funeral was lifting her coffin to the top of my car.   The coffin was light.   The lift was easy.   Ugandans called AIDS “Slim.”   Mzee Lasto’s daughter had the substance of life sucked from her body in her last days.  Her coffin was so light it seemed to not hold an adult body.

A few months later we were in the USA on furlough.   News came to us of an impending great tragedy.   Mzee Lasto was sick.   A short time later news came that Mzee Lasto had passed.   Slim had caught him.   Mzee Lasto died of AIDS.  In one year a granddaughter, daughter, and grandfather had all died.   AIDS was an indiscriminate killer.

I hate little coffins.    My Boss is the Resurrection.

Pastoral hatred does many things.    Those who know me best remark of my remarkable ability to give and receive love.   I know my own dark demons too well to take that title.    Yet, those few intimate friends also note that my love sometimes comes out as hatred.

I hate little coffins.    That hatred comes from my Boss.  Here are some other matters that I hate:

I hate listening to religious gatherings that judge victims and superimpose victory.   AIDS would not develop a master Balokole race in Uganda.    All would suffer.   All would someday bow to my Boss.   He is the only One Righteous.

I hate the practice of polygamy.   I’ve loved many polygamous friends.   Yet, the consequences of polygamy are family dysfunction and death.   Little coffins thrive in polygamous families.

I hate my Kizungu (Western) culture of serial adultery and divorce.   It is ethically one step below polygamy.   My polygamous friends attempt to care for all their wives and children.    My Bazungu (White race) friends who practice serial adultery and divorce leave more shattered relationships and lives than my African friends.   If they are Balokole serial adulterers they also become masters of manipulation and deception.   The consequences to children are horrendous.

I hate discos and bars that lure youth into sexual immorality.  Even with condom proselytism we cannot escape that a thin piece of plastic can never protect the human heart.   We were designed to mate for life.   Any relationship that denies that truth of created order will become a disaster.

I hate little coffins.

Yet, those little coffins have given me startling love.

Jesus After Resurrection Sharing Holy Communion with Disciples
I love the faithful.   I cannot conceptualize that anyone seeking the spiritual is my enemy.   Little coffins showed me the profound commonality of human life.   Denominational identity is irrelevant squabbling for those who trust in my Boss’ Resurrection.

I love children.   I’ve always done all I can so they can thrive.   I want to build institutions to bless them for generations.

I love youth.  I love their athletic feats.   I love their music and dance.   I love their courage.   I love their intelligent search for knowledge.

In these painful moments I close my eyes.   My memories overwhelm me.   As my body shakes comes forth my deepest beliefs, hopes, and actions.

In 19 years in Africa I’ve only twice performed a funeral with a little coffin.    I’ve begged God for children’s lives many times.   I can’t answer the question of why twice God was silent.    Yet, I do believe in my Boss’ Resurrection. 

Though I hate little coffins, my Boss is the Resurrection.