“Do you see that homeless man next to the wall? He was in my wedding!” I looked over in amazement at my friend Ken. I strained to get a better look at the man he pointed to, but he was only a bit character in the movie and was he was shown for just a brief moment.
Just past the TV and out the window I could see the fading light of Kenya’s sun outline on the hills of Bomet. This was a strange night. This was the night God used the film, Dumb and Dumber to show me that He is moving to accomplish His will.
It was only a few hours earlier that I had met Ken and his family for the first time. They’d graciously agreed to put me up for the night at their apartment near Tenwek Hospital in Bomet. Over a home-cooked American dinner that night, Ken, his wife and two daughters took turns explaining to me how it was that his family from Rhode Island had one day decided to pack up and move to western Kenya.
Ken said they came to supervise a construction project on the compound–a new operating theater that would vastly expand the capacity of the busy hospital. After dinner Ken asked me if I wanted to see a film done by two of his family’s main financial supporters, Peter and Bobby Farrelly.
“Wait, the Farrelly brothers are two of your main financial supporters!?”
Indeed they were. Peter and Bobby Farrelly, writers and directors of major comedies (Dumb and Dumber, Fever Pitch, Stuck on You) were fellow Rhode Islanders and friends of Ken and his wife long before they ever made it big.
It was my first time seeing Dumb and Dumber with an exclusive commentary by family friends of the director. The Farrelly brothers, they explained, make a practice of shooting their films in familiar places and casting old friends in bit roles. In one scene, the voice coming through a CB radio had a distinctive and familiar New England accent. “That’s supposed to be me,” said Ken. I laughed.
As I look back, I can see this was a pivotal moment for me in my three-month stay as an exchange student in Africa. In Kenya and Uganda, I had seen unspeakable poverty on a grand scale. I knew millions of people in Africa were poor–but I never really grasped the idea of widespread poverty until I trekked through the dirt paths in the famous Kibera slum of Nairobi, one of the largest in all of Africa.
The need in those countries is overwhelming. But God reminded me of something that night as I watched Lloyd and Harry famously turn down their job offer at the end of the film. He reminded me that His will is being done–whether you know it or not.
When millions of people lined up to pay for their tickets to a Farrelly brothers film, they did not know that they would be helping to pay for the construction of a new operating theater for the thousands of those in need in western Kenya. In fact, at that point, nobody knew. Ken’s family had not yet been called to go to Kenya. Tenwek had not yet decided to expand. Nobody knew that an international conspiracy to help was imminent.
But God did. Only He is big enough to understand the need, and only He is able to supply His children so they can help put a broken world back together.
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
Yes! More than that. I’m telling you to take heart if you have ever been overwhelmed by the world’s need. His hand is moving. Ephesians 2 tells us that God has prepared good works for us in advance. Just sit back for a moment and think about that: He is working behind the scenes right now to supply your needs so you can do His work in the future. God provided for Ken’s family to go and do His will in Kenya in a most unexpected way. Who knows? You may be sent to a foreign land someday, and your trip might be paid for with the dollars in the pockets of strangers sitting next to you in Starbucks. God has done it before, and He could be doing it now.
This is what Dumb and Dumber taught me. Yes, the pain of the world is great. But God is greater.