Monday, January 14th, 2019
I have a question for you: What is your banana ministry? What is a banana ministry, you ask? Let me explain. My friend, Judy, is a missionary living in Nairobi, Kenya. She travels a good deal in and around Nairobi, and if you’ve ever been to Nairobi, you know that it’s pretty much a continual traffic jam. There are always people lined on the streets selling everything you can imagine—including, to my horror, puppies.
Recently, Judy was traveling with her driver, Baraza, and she saw a woman selling bananas, with a baby strapped to her back and two others playing at her feet. Judy told Baraza, “Pull over; I want to buy some bananas.” She gave him the equivalent of about two dollars and told him to buy all her bananas—about 20.
“But Sister,” he said, “why are you buying 20 bananas? You can’t eat that many.”
“Just buy them,” she told him.
He was baffled as to why Judy would want so many bananas since she lives alone, but he did as she insisted. When he paid the lady for all her bananas, her face lit up with a huge, incredulous smile. That probably represented two days food for her and her family.
Baraza said, “Sister, did you see how happy she was? You did a good thing for her.”
Then they traveled on. Judy saw a crippled man with only one leg by the side of the road and she told Baraza to stop and give him some bananas. Once again Baraza saw how thrilled the man was to get the bananas. This went on for their entire journey until Judy had given away all the bananas.
Baraza—who by the way is a wonderful believer—said, “Sister, this was so good. I can do this. I can give away bananas.” As a result, Baraza now carries bananas, apples, and other fruit with him to give to people randomly as God leads him. He now has a banana ministry!
So I want to encourage you to discover what your banana ministry is and become very intentional about giving away your bananas as God leads you to share his love with others. What do you have in your hands that could easily become gifts of love to the people in your life—strangers, coworkers, family, friends—whomever? I’d love to hear what your banana ministry is, so please let me know.
Tuesday, January 15th, 2019
In sharing about banana ministries, I’ve I told you how my friend Judy, a missionary in Kenya, inspired her driver, Baraza, to realize that he could do something as simple as give a needy person a banana—and in that way, share God’s love with them. I’m suggesting that every one of us who are Christ-followers should look for our banana ministry—something we intentionally do to share the love of God.
Let me tell you about my friend, Kiyoko, a Japanese woman in my church. She was inspired to use her creativity as a way to share the Gospel. She makes beautiful little bookmarks using things people throw away—like candy wrappers—and makes designs on a bookmark with a scripture verse on the back.
She carries her bookmarks with her and whenever she has an opportunity—with a stranger, a store clerk, someone she sits by on the bus or on an airplane—she gives them one of her bookmarks. She calls them “born-again bookmarks,” and explains how she made them from scraps of paper that people throw away. This opens the door for her to tell them that her born-again bookmarks are nice, but they will eventually fall apart. Then she shares the good news that when a person is born again through faith in Jesus Christ, it will last for all eternity.
She has given away over 300 born-again bookmarks. Can you imagine how many times those bookmarks have been looked at, read, used—and how many seeds have been sown in the hearts of many people? Kiyoko is using her creative gift—her skill at origami—to share the truth of the Gospel. It’s a ministry that she has developed, on her own, using the gift God has given her, to fulfill the Great Commission of taking the Gospel to others.
So, what is your banana ministry—what is your born-again bookmark idea—that you could develop, on your own, as a way to share God’s love and the Gospel with others in your life? I have no doubt that all of us could come up with something unique we could do that would give us an opportunity to share God’s love. And if all Christ-followers developed banana ministries, what impact that could have on our world!
Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
I’ve discovered that far too many of us who are Christ-followers have what I call a “sacred/secular” theology—a belief that some parts of our lives are sacred and some parts are secular. This erroneous theology can cause you to think that being a witness for Jesus is reserved for certain people, places, or times.
Part of the reason I began this ministry almost 35 years ago was to spread the good news that there is no sacred/secular theology and, indeed, all of us who are born again through faith in Jesus Christ are called to be witnesses wherever God puts us. We each have been given a commission from Jesus to be his witnesses wherever we are each day.
So, I’m encouraging you to find your banana ministry—the thing you can intentionally do on a regular basis to share God’s love where you are. This idea comes from my friend’s story of how giving out bananas to needy people in Kenya, where she lives, has become a ministry. That’s something you don’t need a college degree to do, right? So, what could you do to reach out to your coworkers, friends and, yes, even to strangers that would just share a bit of God’s love with them?
Suppose you decided that your banana ministry was to give out encouraging words to at least one person every day. Then you begin your day with a prayer that God will reveal someone to you who needs an encouraging word that day. As you get to work, you hear from a coworker that a project assigned to her is simply falling apart, the team is not working well together, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. You realize this is the person you prayed for today.
Now, what do you do to encourage her? Maybe just a word from you; maybe an offer to help; maybe an email or note you write to encourage her. Maybe you keep some cards in your desk with encouraging words on them, and you give her one of those. There are so many ways you could give her some encouragement, and it could be that was exactly what she needed to keep going and figure out how to get the job done.
I make it a practice to keep a supply of encouragement cards at my desk, and God just randomly puts people on my mind who need a card. Then it’s so easy to write a note and mail it. Handwritten notes have a very high value and impact these days because they are becoming very rare. Here’s a tip: Dollar Tree has some nice encouragement cards that are not expensive. So you can afford to do this.
Are you willing to ask God what your banana ministry is? Don’t miss out on the blessing that awaits you when you do!