This has been a hard week for me. Just lots of stuff going on and seem to be emotionally, physically and spiritually weak. The lessons Jean Louis left me with are what got me through it.
This past week Thursday we said good-bye to the sweetest man I have ever met. He’s a person who has always caught my attention for the way he radiated joy. He spoke love through his actions and the contentment he always resonated was something I long for. You see, Mr. Jean Louis, was a Christian, but he never once told me about Jesus. We never prayed together or swapped testimonies, but he showed me more Jesus in the way he lived than any other Christian I have ever met.
The pastor shared during the funeral service how Jean Louis was always the first person to put money in the offering pan. The pastor knew he never had much at all, so this always left a big impact on him. Jean Louis was the modern day character from the story in Matthew Luke 21:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.” (verses 41-44)
I couldn’t help but smile as the pastor talked about Jean Louis this way. And, I couldn’t help but feel the Spirit, knowing I had met a modern day Jesus. It left me feeling honored and inspired.
Jean Louis lived the simplest of simple lives. He never married nor had children. He lived at peace with the people of his community and helped those around him when he could. Besides a small bag of clothes, some pots and pans and a donkey, he left behind nothing else.
Sometimes I would watch him walk to the big palm tree to tie up his donkey, and think, “what a perfect life this man has.” Just his darn donkey and a relationship with his Savior, realizing that is all you really need.
Then there would be times that we would meet along the dirt path. He probably weighed no more than 95 pounds and only 5.5 feet tall. I would embrace him and feel all the bones in his back. He would kiss me on the cheek and ask, “kijan ti bourik ou ye?” how’s your little donkey? We first became friends when I bought my little donkey from him. We danced the night away the night of my wedding, and he would later tell Webert, he had never been to such a party in life. And, I know all the wedding guests noticed his child-like joy.
On Sunday mornings I would shake his hand and secretly watch him as he worshipped in the back of the hall, with his palms lifted high. I wanted what he had.
If I could do it over again, I would stay on that dirt path a little longer. I would ask him where his joy came from? How he learned to be content over the years? Where did he find happiness when life had given him nothing more than a mud hut and a donkey? We can probably guess pretty accurately what his answers would be just by the way he lived out his life, but I wish I had sought out more advice from this modern day Jesus man.
At first I was so sad to say good-bye to this sweet man. I’m just going to miss seeing him in front of his house, waving at me each and every time I pass by. But, I know they had the biggest dance party ever as they welcomed him Home. His aches and pains are no more. Poverty will never strike him again and we celebrate because we know full well he has been given the greatest gift of all.
He will be the first person I want to visit once I get to those golden gates someday.
As, we cleaned out his house late one afternoon, I asked if I could have his old, tattered Bible. It now sits on my nightstand as a reminder of who Jean Louis was and all that he taught me. He showed me Jesus like no one ever has and leaves me wanting more. More Jesus. A deeper relationship, something so audacious and authentic, that it too, will leave people wanting more Jesus. People won’t have to ask me where my joy, love and contentment comes from…they will just know! Just how I knew all that about Jean Louis.
Thank you Mr. Donkey Man for teaching me something so remarkable and for teaching me it all through yours actions and love. How simply humbling and amazing.