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Benefits of Positive Association

My mother was the most respected person I knew in my youth. It always amazed me how her calm nature and welcoming spirit were honored by young and elderly people, rich and poor, educated or not. I wanted people to know this good-natured woman was my mother. But if I did something bad, I didn?t want people to know who my mother was. I didn?t want to tarnish her good name.

My mother?s character played a significant role in my marriage. According to Kamba community custom, the background of a potential husband or wife is analyzed before final commitment. My mother-in-law wanted to know more about me. She asked one of my neighbors, who attended her church, about my character. My neighbor said, ?Nowadays it?s hard to tell the character of young people?but this young man has a wonderful mother.?

In the last few years, I have been blessed with another positive association, albeit sometimes by confusion. Since Father Rogatian Urassa (now at St. Mary?s Perish, Boise) came to Idaho in late 1990s, numerous people have confused the two of us. In restaurants people have given me a seat thinking I am their priest. One time, while I was presenting at a school in Idaho Falls, one of the parents came and apologized for missing mass the previous Sunday. I tease these people by saying that, ?Next time, I will come with a collection plate.?

Other people say how much I remind them of Father Urassa with my accent or the way I tell stories or his loving spirit?he has a perpetual smile. Yes, Father Urassa has been a great friend since he arrived in Idaho. He was born and raised in Tanzania while I am a native of Kenya. We share notes of our upbringing. Family values and the beauty of structured relationship?where you know who you are and how you related with everyone else. We are from different tribes and languages but we share a lot of traditional practices. I have had him give lectures in my classes at Boise State University.

My relationships or association with both my mother and Father Urassa has taught me a lot about my walk with Christ. First, I appreciate our association and I am not ashamed of it. When I talk about either of them, I enthusiastically tell of their character, what that means to me, and how I wish I can be with them more often. Their character, sometimes, somehow became the yardstick with which my integrity is measured. I would hate to represent them poorly.

From these two different relationships, and many others, I have found deep conviction on how I should not be afraid to be associated with Christ Jesus. He did and does so many good things; I want people to know He is my friend. I even want them to know when our friendship began, the benefits that I derive, and what He can do for them spiritually and socially.

Sometimes I wonder?can people trust me more because I am associated with Jesus, just like my mother-in-law trusted me because of my mother?s character? If, based on conventional wisdom we are a byproduct of the kind of associates we have, would people who haven?t known Him now know about Him without reading the Bible, from my actions and attitude?

The Bible, in Acts 11, speaks of when the disciples were called Christians, (people who follow Christ) for the first time in Antioch. They were associated with Him because of their belief and way of life.

For relationships to grow there is the need to learn about each other (God already knows about me and you), communication, trust, commitment, cooperation and willingness to be accountable for one?s actions.

Being my mother?s child provided many benefits. Having good friends like Rasa brings joy to life. I understand when Paul, in Romans 1:16 says, ?For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth??

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