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A New Heart

In addition to learning the new language of Swahili, I'd drank many cups of chai, the sweetened tea so popular in Kenya. We live in the Highlands where tea growing is a major part of the economy.
In addition to learning the new language of Swahili, I’d drank many cups of chai, the sweetened tea so popular in Kenya. We live in the Highlands where tea growing is a major part of the economy.

A New Heart

I will give you a new heart and mind.  I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

 

Ezekiel 36:26

It’s become a favorite word of mine in Kenya.

Moyo.  

 

It means heart in Swahili.

As in Moyo ya Moyo . . .  Heart to Heart.

 

It’s odd that thinking about moyo would make me think of

my friends, L.J. and Jack.

 

Jack and L.J. are two of my American friends, but they didn’t know each other until last August.

 

It was my privilege to introduce them to each other.

The place was a favorite of mine: Dry Creek Baptist Camp.

It was the annual Dry Creek Men’s Fishfry.

 

I was talking to Jack when I saw L.J. coming across the campgrounds.  I knew I had to connect them.

 

The three of us stood under the porch of the Tabernacle as I introduced them to each other.  I love connecting friends to each other.

 

But this was different, because they were different.

 

“You two fellows have something in common. Both of you have a new heart.”

 

They locked eyes on each other.

 

Jack said, “When did you get yours?”

 

L.J. smiled.  “I was at this same Fish Fry when they called me to New Orleans.  Said they had a heart waiting on me.”

 

“You went to New Orleans?”

Jack and L.J. soon found out that not only did they each have a new heart, but also they shared the same doctor.  Most of all, they had something in common I could not understand.

 

Someone had died and left their heart to be used.

My two friends had each had their old diseased heart removed and a new heart sewn in.

 

I’ve always wondered how that must feel.

I would imagine it’d change a man’s outlook on most everything.

 

It was an emotional moment under the Tabernacle porch as Jack and L.J. connected.  I mean no pun when I say they visibly connected heart to heart.

 

I eased away from the conversation.

They shared a camaraderie I couldn’t understand.

It was like two war veterans comparing notes of how the heat of battle must feel.

 

I had no right to eavesdrop in on their heart to heart conversation.

 

There’s that word again.  Moyo ya Moyo.

 

The real reason walked away is because I needed to get my bandana out and wipe my eyes.

 

I watched from a distance.

I thanked the Lord for sparing their lives.

They were two men who had expected to die but had been given a new heart and life.

 

I thanked the Lord for the friendship of these two men I admire and love.

 

For L.J. a man of the piney woods, whose roots grow deep.

For Jack, who has traveled the world, especially to Nepal, telling others about Christ.

 

 

In each man’s case, someone died so they could live.

That’s a sobering thought.

It’s a spiritual thought.

The crux of the life of Jesus is that He came to die.

It’s that simple, yet it’s that amazing.

Jesus willingly died to give us a new heart and life.

 

 

I walked away from the Tabernacle as dusk fell over my beloved Dry Creek.  Jack and L.J. were still talking.

 

I’ve brought them (at least the mental image) with me to Africa.

In my heart.

I pull it out and it makes me smile.

I had to share it with you.

I hope it makes you smile also.

 

Lord, thanks for my friends L.J. and Jack.

Thank you for sparing and extending their lives.

I’m grateful for how they’re using this Lagniappe to serve you.

 

I’ve got a new heart too.

Lord, teach me to live gratefully for it.

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

II Corinthians 5:21

 

 

Postscript:

 

Jack Tillery has made dozens of trips to Nepal.  Since his heart transplant, his doctors have discouraged him from making this trip around the world.

Last year, he decided to show them he was fit and ready to go.  He and some friends got on bicycles in Lake Charles and rode to New Orleans.  I’ll let him tell you the route.

When they arrived on the Mississippi River levee at Oschner’s Hospital, a crowd of nurse and doctors (having heard of their journey) were waiting to greet them.

L.J. Thompson told me of a story from this same hospital. He’d been put to sleep not knowing if, or where, he would wake up.

He opened his eyes and a big smiling New Orleans nurse was leaning over him.  She said,  “Baby doll, you better wake up. You got you a new heart!”

A new heart.

Moyo to Moyo.

 


 


About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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