Part I: Des & The Calling Of God

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This was the first article of three I wrote for Storyline Magazine. I thought I’d post it here for my wonder followers to read too. :)

Greeting him at the door of my home, Desire Muhindo introduced himself while we smiled and extended our hands out to one another. “Just call me, Des.”, he said. We found our way to the family room & sat down while Des, began telling me his incredible story.

Whenever I am listening to someone share their life story, I tend to see the shadows of the biblical narratives and themes within their tales. While listening to Des, I couldn’t help but reflect on the story of Samuel and God’s call upon his young life. Being dedicated to the temple as a young boy, Samuel would find himself in the care and caring for the High Priest Eli after he had become poor in sight. Late into one of the evenings, Samuel had drifted off to sleep until he was rustled awake by a voice calling to him. “Samuel! Samuel!” Hurrying to Eli’s side, he said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Eli, woken up from sleep himself, explained that he had not called for the young boy and told Samuel to return to bed.

This would happen twice more until Eli recognized what was happening and told young Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’ ”[1]Samuel, having not heard God’s voice until then, returned to bed where again, God called upon him and Samuel listened.

Des was born to a family as they fled Rwanda in the 1980’s to Burundi Africa. Settling in the Congo, his father would find work building factories across the country of Africa. Not wanting to travel for work without his family, at seven years old Des, along with his other siblings, moved from Burundi to Tanzania, Uganda, & finally Kenya. His family was extremely well off and as such, he expressed how many would leave their babies on the door step of their home to be raised by his mother. It was a sense of pride, he had, having such a large extended family. Describing his home life today with five children, it comes as no surprise that he said, “Having many kids making noise, touching my bald head, pulling my shirt… *laughing*… it makes me happy.” I added in the conversation, “It makes you feel at home.”

By the time Des had become an early teen, he had grown to see Jesus largely under the influence of his mother’s Catholic upbringing. But it was in 1992 that he expresses that he was saved & would have a number of encounters that radically reshaped his relationship with Jesus.

Meeting a woman on the side of the road while on the way to play with friends, Des recalls her speaking to him. “I know you,” she said. “You are an angry man & like fighting.” She spoke into his character in a way that convicted him spiritually & he was unsure of how she could speak so authoritatively. He asked her, “How can you know these things? Are you a witch?” She explained, “No, I am a Christian.” Challenging him on a much deeper level she said, “Being a Christian is not about going to church. It is about changing who you are, giving your life to someone.” For Des, this was a spiritual awakening that his life mattered for something, someone greater than himself.

Des would begin to attend a Pentecostal church and find a new community around him. He would grow in faith while learning from the Pentecostal teachers what it meant to be a Christian. He felt called to preach & began teaching along the street sides from his bible while walking home from church.

During this spiritual revival in Des’s life, his father became uncomfortable with his preaching in public, feeling it brought shame to the family. Wanting Des to stop these activities, his father would tell him, “You are mad. Your brain is not working well.” While only desiring to bring God glory, I can’t imagine the internal wrestling with his faith that Des would undergo, during these times. His father would eventually ask him to leave the home & Des would spend the next nine months living on the streets & occasionally find shelter in the small Pentecostal church he was a part of. Through all of this strife, Des felt a spirit of peace & calmness.

Shortly after returning home before 1994, Des experienced a calling to go & preach in Rwanada. He was unsure of the calling as he didn’t speak the Rwandan language despite being a Rwandan himself. Raised as a refugee, he learned only to speak the language of the Congo. He was also unsure of his family back in Rwanda & if they would welcome his return. “I started praying”, Des explained. “At 3:45 am, I took my bag, my bible, & boarded a bus to Rwanda.”

Arriving in his family’s homeland, Des was unsure what to expect. While de-boarding the bus, an elderly couple approached him, “Servant of God, we welcome you!” He was surprised as he had not spoken to any others about his calling to Rwanda. “Please do not worry as we know you are a missionary who has come to preach to us about God. We have both dreamed about your coming!” He welcomed their offer of comfort & returned to their home while meeting more of their family. Des began teaching in the streets & with this family’s help, his ministry began to grow in Rwanda.

I imagine that when a person receives a calling from God, there is still a great mystery to the events & experiences these people will come to witness.

Young Samuel as a boy could hardly envision becoming the prophet who would anoint the first two kings of Israel & all the fables that would surround his life’s journey. Likewise, Des at the age of young adulthood could hardly foresee the coming dangers while preaching the gospel in Rwanda during early 1994. This is true for all of us as I was reminded by Colin Toffelmire’s message this past weekend, “We are all called & chosen by God. His plan cannot be derailed, but it can place us in some sketchy places.”

Desire Muhindo’s story is yet to finish & in the upcoming issues we will hear more of his tale while we witness the power of the gospel in perseverance amidst great strife & the significance & role of forgiveness in healing. Until then, let us return to listening for God’s callings, “Behold, I am about to do a great thing in Israel”[2]

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Sa 3:9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Sa 3:11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.