Intersecting Lives, Writing Great Stories
(an excerpt from Makutano by M.K. Gantt, © MKGANTT.COM PUBLICATIONS, 2018; Chapter 12, page 162)
One woman, the wife of one of the pastors of the church there, related how she sat at her mother’s home with her children, her mother, and several others, waiting to die. They could hear the angry shouts and the terrifying death screams as they sat around a small fire. They had no way to run and nowhere to go, so they built a small fire to stay warm and sat down to wait their turn to die. They were praying and singing worship songs as they heard the voices of angry men coming up the road and hacking their way through the corn. She told us how she nursed her small baby, holding her tightly to her breast, sure that in the next few moments they would both die.
“I did not want my baby to be afraid.”
With hot tears streaming down her face she told us about the moment the men burst into the compound in a drunken rage, fresh blood dripping from their sharp knives and machetes. She held her baby close and with her other arm, drew in her young toddler.
“Suddenly they stopped like they were frozen,” she said, “And as they stared in our direction . . .” Her voice grew husky. “Their eyes grew wide with terror, and they screamed like little girls and ran off in all directions.”
She demonstrated their flight of terror with her hands flying wildly. Tears dripped off her cheeks as she smiled and said, “My eyes could not see what their eyes saw, but I know in my heart what they saw. They came with murder in their minds, but the angelic hosts surrounding us withstood them. Those murderous cowards fled the flaming swords of the angels of my God. My God heard our praises and dispatched an army to stand by my side!”
We rejoiced with her as we drove her family and thirteen others out of the camp and into town where they would be safe.
It is difficult at best to distill three decades of work into to 165 pages. However, that is precisely what I attempted to do in my new book, MAKUTANO. As I sat down over a year ago to record some of the most significant memories from ministry in Africa, I realized that my most precious recollections were not events, but people. I also realized that God is the author of all of our stories and that over the course of our lives He masterfully orchestrates moments that cause our lives to intersect with the lives of others; and it is in the intersections of our lives that God writes His story on the face of history.
I have discovered some of the dearest friendships I could ever imagine. I have stood at the edge of Victoria Falls and preached at the foot of the statue of David Livingston. I have walked on water at Lake Magadi, faced down lions and baboons in the bush escaped robbers, shared a kibanda with a goat, encountered angels, and witnessed the power of God as He has transformed entire communities through the preaching of the gospel.
This book is the record of more than a quarter century of adventures, blessings, heartaches, and the great lessons learned as I have grown more and more engaged in the lives of the people of Kenya and East Africa. I make no effort to compare myself to the giants of global evangelism, living or dead. I am a very small fish in a huge sea of missionary heroes who have given all that the nations might know His greatness and glory. The stories I share are not in any way intended to elevate me. I record them to chronicle the power of God as I have personally witnessed Him lavish His mercy upon the nations. I long for the heart of the Baptist; I want to decrease that He may increase.
The Swahili word for intersection is makutano. My friend Francis Njoroge first invited me to visit his native Kenya in 1992. Our friendship has remained strong over those many years and always reminds me that our lives are a series of intersections with the lives of others who, on the surface, appear to have little or no connection with ours. Separated by culture, language, even oceans, we found ourselves at a mutual crossroad, drawn by the sovereign Hand of Providence. Little did we understand that while God was working in each of our lives individually, He was causing our lives to intersect, impacting each other in ways we may not understand until much later, or never at all. The will of God is realized in the intersection of our lives with the lives of others. My story becomes part of your story, and your story becomes part of my story, and together, our story becomes His story.
As I reflect upon more than fifty years of ministry, always significant in my story are the stories of others—men and women crossing paths for a moment or for a season, leaving all of us changed forever. The life of Joseph intersected with Potiphar and yes, Potiphar’s wife, an Egyptian jailer and a mighty Pharaoh; and in those incredible intersections a powerful chapter in God’s story was written. I mention many by name — men and women, each one representing important intersections with my own life; each one an act of Providence. As I look back over the years, I see those intersections more clearly and with a heightened sense of gratitude for the grace of God who has ordered my steps to bring such remarkable individuals into my life; each one giving, each one taking— all of them adding depth to who I am.
Beyond recording stories that are precious to me, I hope to convince my readers to view their own lives through the lens of Providence; understanding that you were known by God before you were ever formed in the womb and He not only has works prepared for you to do — He carefully prepares you for those works. Significant in those preparations are the lives of other individuals that he causes to intersect with yours.
Allow me to repeat my theme: The will of God is realized in the intersection of our lives with the lives of others. My story becomes part of your story, and your story becomes part of my story, and together, our story becomes His story.
My new book Makutano can be ordered from my website at www.mkgantt.com/books or directly from Amazon.com.