His hair was salty gray, and his handshake as dry as old parchment. He wore a tattered charcoal sport jacket, a bow tie, and a battered felt hat. His eyes were crinkled with laugh lines, and he must have weighed at least ninety-eight pounds. He was known around the mission reverently as Sekuru (grandfather) Rapoz.
He did not know how old he was, but he must have been well into his eighties. But he always made time to greet a foolish and rambunctious missionary’s son, gravely taking off his hat in greeting. Every Sunday he hitched a trouser leg up with a garter so as not to get it entangled in the chain, and rode a bicycle that was little more than scrap metal ten miles or more to village churches. I can still see him, weaving unsteadily the first few feet, then gathering speed along the sandy track. A man of great wisdom and dignity would draw from the even greater wisdom of God’s word, and proclaim a loving savior. Before him in a crescent would sit village people, warmed by the sun and the son’s love.
I wish I knew how he came to know of Jesus, his lord. But that didn’t matter to me. Even a little boy can tell greatness. Though he never wrote a Christian best seller or spoke at a college lectureship, he exuded the joy and holiness of the true servant of God. The church was young, but here was a man with the maturity and clout of an elder statesman. He made no one’s hall of fame. He is, unquestionably, in someone’s book of life.
I hope you can meet Sekuru Rapoz. If you do, it will be because you found your way home, to his home, where his bicycle lays on the ground, and the dust of the road has been brushed, gently, from his trousers.
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:12).