Is Not Life More?
Missionary to America Samuel Kamissa
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? ” Jesus, in Matthew 6:25
“The missionary did not have to worry about his belly.” Samuel Kamissa
Missionary Samuel Kamissa earns his livelihood as an Uber driver in Los Angeles. That is a long way from where he grew up in western Ethiopia.
In his rural area there were no local stores or churches. His mother was his Sunday School teacher, and she taught Samuel well. He loved the Lord and even more, loved telling others about the endless love of Jesus. Besides having no local church, there were other challenges.
As a child he left his home at 6 am, walking to school, to arrive at his elementary school at 7:30 am. The same walk awaited him when school was over.
But there were more dangers to be faced than lions or snakes or even thieves.
At the age of fourteen Samuel Kamissa was put in prison by the communist government for making disciples. Did that deter him? No. As Jesus asked, “Is life not more…?” Samuel kept on making God’s love known, even when a well known pastor in another town, a leader of the Lutheran church body called “Mekane Yesu” (House of Jesus), was executed. The grace of God had become so alive in the young boy that when he graduated from high school he did not look for a job; instead, he went on foot to other towns and villages in rural areas. “Is not life more?
There was no organization to fund his work, although Mekane Yesu Lutherans supported what he was doing; Mekane Yesu asked their members to help him. Samuel says he did not worry about his belly. In fact, there were many such evangelists crisscrossing the country. Local Christians saw it as a privilege to open their homes to these messengers of God; they gave Samuel and the others food and a place to sleep. Early Christianity was a lot like that. The missionary did not worry about life, life in this world. The early Christians knew life was more than food, the body more than clothing.
In time Samuel Kamissa was ordained and became the pastor of a local church. One day a new door opened. Samuel was given the chance to enter the mission field of the United States. For Samuel there was never a question of having a certain amount of money to start a new church, even in America. Samuel started churches in San Diego and Los Angeles. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod partners with Mekane Yesu Lutheran Church. Mekane Yesu is five times larger than the Missouri Synod, in fact, it is the largest Lutheran church body in the world – and the fastest growing. We in America have a lot to learn about mission work and missionaries from our sisters and brothers in Ethiopia. The role money plays in mission development is one of those lessons.
In too many cases money drives the mission in America. In this country before we begin a new mission we assess our material wealth; in Ethiopia the driving force is the gospel and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit impels Christians to bring the love of God to everyone; when Christians step out in faith to make the love of Jesus real to others, the Lord supplies all we need to get His message out. As a missionary with Los Angeles LINC Samuel does not reach out to Ethiopians, or Africans only – but to all people. Some he meets when he gets behind the wheel to drive for Uber.
In my opinion, unless and until money no longer drives the mission in the United States the gospel proclamation will be hindered and the number of disciples will not grow. However, I see signs this is changing. There is a new passion to share the gospel, there are new shoots springing up in America – many from outside the United States – one of those is the number of missionaries from other countries, missionaries like Rev. Samuel Kamissa. Money is not the major factor in mission work. Life is more.
To see a one minute segment of our interview with Samuel, click here.
To see the whole fifteen minute interview, click here.