"Thank You for Loving Me"
Thursday - October 14th
Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 1:15-23
Ever since I heard about your faith in the
Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people,
I have not stopped giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers.
When I moved to California thirteen years ago, God blessed me with an incredible new friend. He didn't even live here. He lived on the other side of the world. We met in person within my first nine months as Calvary Community Church's pastor. He pastored a church in Kampala, Uganda, and I had never been in Africa. Our friendship was instant on that first day we met in my office. We were kindred spirits in theology, ministry philosophy, and approach to pastoring a local church.
Unfortunately for us on this side of eternity, my dear friend and brother in Christ, Bethuel Dongo, went to be with Jesus on October 19, 2015, after a hard-fought, prayer-drenched fight with cancer. Pastor Dongo left a rich legacy with his dear wife, Florence, and their children. The church he pastored and the God Cares School he started and built continue his legacy as they proclaim Christ faithfully and raise a new generation of Christ-followers in Uganda.
It is hard to express how much I miss engaging with this dear brother. We had some extended time together when he was in the U.S. for several months of cancer treatments. Dongo and I experienced a friendship that did not have frequent times of interaction. But when we met either in Uganda or here in the U.S., we communicated by email, or conversed via Skype, we picked up right where we left off the last time we connected. It was that kind of friendship. He saw life, ministry, and the world with both a Christ-like clarity and a practical simplicity that changed my perspective and helped keep my focus on Jesus!
I look forward to seeing Dongo's beautiful smile again in glory! I look forward to rejoicing over how God used his children to impact the next generation of Ugandans for Jesus. I look forward to celebrating with him for eternity the lives changed forever in Uganda and the U.S. because of our partnership together in the Gospel!
Perhaps the one phrase he said I loved the most (and long to hear from him and say to him) in glory one day is his personal good-bye phrase that blessed me and many others. When concluding an email, a conversation, or a visit, Dongo would simply smile and say, "Thank you for loving me." It wasn't some catchphrase or some trite, cute, spiritualized thing he said. Instead, "Thank you for loving me" came from a deeply personal expression of gratitude. It was genuine, heartfelt, and uplifting. He meant it, and I knew it.
Oh, that I would have such a grateful approach to the input and impact of others on my life. Because of Dongo's example, I have tried to grow and cultivate a spirit of gratitude toward others. We all need that right now. But, unfortunately, it seems COVID and other strains on our culture in America have left us chippy, easily critical, and at times even harsh with each other.
Go out of your way today to find three or four people in your life that have attempted to show you love, whether you appreciated it or not at the time, and thank them. Simply say what Pastor Dongo would say, "Thank you for loving me."
When we thank others for loving us, it adds value to their lives and blesses us.