Letters written December 2004:
Do you remember me telling you about a Kenyan man I met on the plane to see Kathy? He reminded me so much of you, he was a professor at a Kentucky university, very political, one of 4 boys, etc. etc. He told me right away the neat story about his elderly father (he was traveling to Kenya for his pop’s funeral). His whole family had accepted Christ years ago, when the Holy Spirit swept through their little village, except for his dad. The brothers prayed and prayed for their dad, to no avail. The dad had 2 major car accidents and one deadly illness – and was pretty much healed from each of these in some neat way, yet still did not turn to Christ. Suddenly, one day, at age 82, for no apparent reason, he gave his heart to the Lord, did a 180 degree change and lived an amazing life for the Lord – for about a year and a half when he then died. I told this Kenyan man, Dr. David Kimweli, that he must have been put on the plane to encourage me to hope for Grandpa Papa again. It went on to be an amazing plane ride, where we prayed and cried together, and had deep deep talks about the Lord – with a real sense of God surrounding us. I really felt like he was my Kenyan “father.” Well, I woke up the other night burdened to pray for his family, did some research on the internet, and lo and behold it turns out he died in a tragic accident that very week I was visiting Kathy. He was probably in the accident the day after I saw him, as the article I read said it happened “returning from his father’s funeral.” He didn’t even get to say good-bye to his wife and kids. So, I decided maybe I was supposed to write to them to tell them how wonderful he was, and how much he said he loved them. I am thinking maybe they are having a super hard time right now, with the holidays?? Anyway, since I reference you in the letter to the Kimwelis, I thought I’d send you a copy too! I hand-wrote the letter and then just typed it here – unfortunately as it is hand-written on beautiful Italian paper that I have no more of I can’t go back and fix the grammar!!!!
Love ya lots!
Dear Kimweli Family,
I woke up the other night with a strong sense that I was lift up the Kimweli family in prayer. It seemed odd to me, to wake up so burdened for a man I had met on a plane to East Africa months before! The next morning I decided to type in David Kimweli’s name on the internet and was shocked to the bone to discover that he went to be with the Lord only days after I had met him. I am feeling so saddened for you, Joyce, Faith and David. I only knew your husband and father for 7 hours – on a filght from Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and yet I wanted to let you know how much he touched my heart in Jesus in that brief time, and how he told me such wonderful things about you all – his beloved family!
I had prayed before my travels that God would orchestrate the people I would sit by on each flight. I am so frightened to fly, and friend encouraged me that God would keep me too busy working for “eternal things” on the flights to be frightened of crashing.
Imagine my surprise when your husband and father began to tell me about Jesus and the work God had done in his father’s heart – before the plane had even taken off! I think we were both a little disappointed, at first, that our co-passenger was not someone who “needed” to learn about Jesus but was already saved 🙂 It ended up being a wonderful flight: we shared testimonies of God’s work in our lives, cried right there on the plane over the goodness of our Lord, and described our wonderful families that the Lord had blessed us with.
The first thing Mr. Kimweli told me was the incredible story of the conversion of his father. You see, the story sounded awfully familiar and gave me hope in what I thought was a hopeless situation. My own father is also one of four sons who all accepted Christ (along with his mother) around the same time. My grandpa, like Mr. Kimweli’s dad, is the stubborn one, holding his heart back from God. My grandpa has even been healed, like Mr. Kimweli’s dad, as the result of God answering the prayers of his sons. Regardless of God’s intervention, my grandpa, now 80, still will not accept Christ. Hearing Mr. Kimweli’s testimony of his dad’s sudden and real conversion, at a ripe old age, filled my eyes with tears and my heart with hope. I told your husband and dad I just KNEW God directed him to sit by me to encourage me (and my father) to hope and pray that God will also win my grandpa’s heart for himself.
Mr. Kimweli, your dear husband and daddy, went on to tell me such wonderful stories about all of you! About your wonderfully romantic story of courtship, Joyce, how you knew each other since childhood and how, like Jacob and Rachel, your husband worked and waited patiently for your hand in marriage. David and Faith, your dad spoke with pride about you both, and mentioned how he feared “letting go,” and wanting so badly for the two of you to follow after Christ with your everything.
Faith, your dad reminded me so much of my own dad. It was so great to talk to him in ways I haven’t talked to my own dad, and it helped me understand my dad better. I really got the sense that your dad wanted to be closer to you, and was unsure how to do that. His love for you was so apparent in his words and face.
I wanted to write you all to tell you my experience with your husband and dad. Near the end of his life, he was trusting the Lord and shining His light. He told me that he was “always ready” to go and be with God, and joked that while up in an airplane he was even more ready! Everything went awry with his flights – he ended up in Dar instead of Nairobi when I last saw him – yet he was still saying, “God must have a reason for this. I will trust Him.” Your dad and husband encouraged me greatly in so many things. He reminded me of God’s sovereignty and helped me not fear death on the plane. He encouraged me that my trip to visit my missionary friend in Dar es Salaam would be used by God. He encouraged me by lifting up my husband, who stayed with our boys and allowed me to go on the trip. He encouraged me in my ministry to my husband and boys – that it is a real ministry not to be taken lightly. And your dad and husband blessed me by how real was the presence of the Holy Spirit in him.
Your husband and dad made an impact on me in just a few hours that will last a lifetime. I am so sorry to hear that he is gone. I imagine, by the short time I knew him, that he impacted many lives – more than most could do in several lifetimes. I saw that he most hoped that he would impact the lives of his son and daughter! I can’t wait to be in heaven someday – with the entire Kimweli family, Praise the Lord! 🙂
Please know that my heart aches for you, and that I will be lifting you up in prayer.
I pray God’s peace upon you in such a time of sorrow.
Thank you for sharing Mr. Kimweli with me. I know he will be greatly missed by you.
Your sister in Christ,