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The first time I encountered a person in a polygamous marriage, I was taken aback. I experienced this relationship totally by accident. We had been living on a mission station in a town called Meiganga, learning a local language, and one of the families that lived close by, I had come to know relatively well. Mr. Paul, as we called him, had a very pleasant wife, and three teenaged children, all boys. At that time, we had only Jonah, who was a baby, so we’re talking nearly 25 years ago.
It was incumbent on me to attend a variety of church meetings in Ngaoundéré, so I had to travel almost every month, on awful roads. It was my habit to stop in a shaded clearing near a small town about half way between Ngaoundéré and Meiganga. It was very peaceful there, and afforded an opportunity to rest after the grueling drive. It was just a ways off the main road, so it was quiet. Usually my rest stops were solitary affairs, interrupted only by occasional baboons or monkeys wandering by. But one time, as I sat there, off in the distance coming out of the bush, there was a couple walking in typically African fashion. The man came first, followed by his wife, who had a baby tied to her back, with a 7 or 8 year old girl walking alongside her mother. I watched them, not because I was trying to be intrusive, but I was lazily resting and frankly, there was nothing else to look at. As they approached, I could have sworn it was Mr. Paul. It was! When they got up to my truck and saw that it was me, Mr. Paul was a bit surprised. He haltingly made chit chat, until I finally greeted the little girl and asked her name. Mr. Paul then introduced her and her mother as his wife (a very pretty and very much younger woman) and daughters (the baby was also a little girl).
Oh my…I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. They went on their way, but some days later when I encountered him again, he smiled and said simply, “it works, as long as they never see one another."
The family of God’s children is going to be much bigger and different from what we expect. We may not like what we see, since tend to like only those who look like us, act like us, and think like us. But Jesus assures us, that he’s not done yet. He’s calling people from all walks of life, from all over the earth. We will be one family of faith, with one Shepherd, but a diverse family, indeed!