Shem Was a Man to Imitate

Shem was loved by everyone in the Nairobi church.  He was always available to help the younger men in his area.  Shem had an encouraging word and a smile for everyone. He led a great Bible discussion in his home in Kibera.  While many people were on "African time," running late most of the time, Shem showed up early to every appointment and every church service, dressed in a suit jacket, looking smart and well-groomed.  While some might think this not so remarkable, the amazing thing to me is that Shem was blind.

Shem was not always blind.  At one time he was a successful businessman in Nairobi, married with children.  Then he contracted a disease that left him without his sight.  He lost his business and he lost his family.  But he never lost his faith or his determined spirit.  And he never lost his joy. When he had the opportunity to learn the truth of salvation from the Bible, he accepted it eagerly, ready to obey even though it didn't match what he had learned traditionally. He was a humble man.

When Shem lead a Bible discussion in his home, he would ask one of the men in attendance to read a scripture.  Shem always knew if it was the right one.  One time a young man read the verses and Shem corrected him, saying "Not Psalm 105, but Psalm 104."  Shem knew his Bible very well!

Shem also knew our voices very well.  Even after Tom and I moved away from Nairobi, whenever Tom would go back and visit, Shem recognized his voice immediately. As soon as Tom said hello, Shem would exclaim, "Tom! It's so good to see you!"

One time Tom ran into Shem in town quite a while before church was going to start on a Wednesday.  Tom asked Shem what he was doing and Shem replied, "I was waiting for you to take me to church."  Shem had to rely on other people's help for everything he did.  He didn't complain.  He didn't make excuses. He didn't become bitter. He lived in the poorest area of Nairobi, but came to town dressed like the businessman he was in his heart and mind.  Shem was a man of integrity.

While I can't remember the names of everyone I befriended in Nairobi, Shem is a man I will never forget.  He was a man whose character we should all aspire to imitate.

                              Tom and Shem at a service in Nairobi.

   Here is Shem with Mike and Anne-Brigitte Taliaferro at the same service.
Lori Ziegler1 Comment