When I arrived on Buvuma Island about two weeks ago, I saw the crazy man every time I passed through the village of Kitamiru (Kit-uh-meer-roo). He seemed cleaner this time – his clothing was still at least three layers thick, like shorts over pants over pants, but the clothing was not stained dark with the muddy ground-soaked stains of my previous visits. Perhaps someone had given him a dry place to sleep. Otherwise, he was the same drunken-looking homeless man that I knew from before, wild hair and constant chattering to his unseen companions. Every now and then, if you watched him closely, he would look like he was arguing with someone about something, but, of course, he was the only one present.

Generally, I avoided him because of the violence of my earlier visit, and fortunately, he did not seem to notice me. Avoiding him was not much of a challenge because usually I was passing through on my way to somewhere and I never left the vehicle.

One day toward the middle of the Buvuma Bible Institute – five days of intensive all day Bible training with over 100 church leaders from the islands – we were forced to take a break. The prime minister of the local kingdom was visiting, and so the people were all in a furor following his SUV caravan from place to place while he made speeches and paraded up and down the few roads. On this particular day, even though we had paid five days rent in advance for our hall for the Institute, the management booted us out for half a day so the prime minister would have a place to make his speech in the village.

All this to say, we were at loose ends this morning because we could not teach, and so the bishop was driving around with us, seeking another place to move our classes to. Finally, we were sitting in the car, on the side of the road right in the middle of the village, discussing our next move. The rain was pouring down. As we waited and quietly talked, I watched the familiar figure of the crazy man walk out of one of the small restaurants carrying a plate full of food, eating it as he walked and seeming to talk with someone as he crossed the road. He came up onto our little lane and stopped just opposite our car, eating and talking, eating and talking, not even seeming to notice us. I concluded that someone had kindly given him a handout.

Now I had been wondering about the crazy man and the attitude of the Christians toward him. They seemed to tolerate his deranged condition almost as if he were just one of the bushes or trees along the road, as if there were nothing that could be done for him and he was simply a background fixture of the village. These people all believe in Jesus Christ, but it seemed to me like the idea of actually ministering to him simply never occurred to them. He was tolerated, they knew his sad story, they occasionally fed him, but that was the end of it. I had the benefit in this situation of being a foreigner who could not just take him for granted.

The bishop and the pastor in the back finally decided to head back to the hall to see if the prime minister was finished interrupting us. But, before we drove off, I followed a prompting of the Lord, which frankly I had been waiting for, since I don’t usually wade into this kind of cultural situation without the Lord’s direction. I asked Alfred to roll down the window and ask the crazy man if he wanted us to pray for him.

Immediately, to my surprise, the man stopped chattering, came over to the driver’s window, set his plate down and kneeled down right there in the street. Alfred explained to him that we all wanted to pray for him, so he should come around to the other side of the car, which he immediately did, again kneeling down in the mud and bowing his head. We climbed out of the car, raised him up from the mud and sat him on a small wall at the side of the road. We asked him his name, which was Moses, and laid hands on him and began to pray for his healing and deliverance from whatever was afflicting him. So: pouring rain, four men standing around this forlorn figure seated and bowed at the side of the road, hands laid on, praying aloud for his freedom….

We prayed for a few minutes and didn’t so much as notice the rain soaking us. When we concluded, I asked him through Alfred, my translator, if he knew Jesus. He crossed himself in the Catholic manner and said yes, he knew Jesus. So we blessed him and turned to re-enter the car. Now mind you, I had never heard this man speak a word of spontaneous English, but as I sat in my seat and turned to look at him, he looked me in the eye and said clearly, “God bless you.” I almost fell out of the car.

We left him there looking after us. By the time we arrived at the hall, the prime minister had just left, and so we unloaded and began the day’s teaching as the rain stopped and our students trickled in.

That evening, as we again passed through the village on our way back to the guesthouse, Moses stood just off the road in the village as usual, but when he saw our vehicle, well…all I can say is that his face filled with joy – I don’t know how else to describe what I saw. If I could have taken a picture of his smile and shown it to you, you would immediately identify his expression as joy. With this huge smile beaming from him, he waved vigorously at us as we drove by. I had never seen anything from him before that moment that even approached happiness, let alone what I was witnessing now.

I regret that we did not stop to speak with him then. I haven’t seen him since that evening. He was gone from the roadside the next day and every day thereafter, this man who had been present somewhere in the hustle and bustle of this little village every time I had passed through it on several visits over a year’s time.

We could not find anyone who could tell us what happened to him. Did he go home to his family, finally in his right mind? Perhaps, perhaps not. We could not discover his whereabouts. Maybe Part III will have to be written the next time I go to Buvuma Island, when someone will be able by then to tell me what happened to Moses. Or perhaps I will have to wait until that one future Day, and the two of us, the crazy man and the musungu, will sit down by the side of some small heavenly lane and carry on a conversation that is no longer bound by a language barrier. Maybe then we will be able to look into each other’s eyes and really see each other for the first time.

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