Waterfall Boys

15 05 2020

I paint in watercolors as a creative outlet, and lately I’ve been interested in the theme of rain in Africa. As a boy, I lived in Nigeria, and can never forget the thunder and lightning that would bolt heaven to earth in continual clanks of power. In my years in Kenya, I tried to rejoice with the local saying, “Rain is always a blessing” – even when downpours crashed tin roofs and flooded streets.

Recently I found a picture of African rain and set out to paint it. The result is not all I hoped for, but it captures the youthful exuberance of boys playing in the rain. I call it “Three Blessings” (or, Baraka Tatu).

Three boys have each found themselves a free waterfall, pouring off the roofs of their school. Two play with the splash in their hands, while the lad in the foreground welcomes the cascade right onto his face! This is joy unbounded by boys who don’t realize they are poor by U.S. standards.

And they don’t care. They have earned to rejoice in the simple pleasures of today.

These days, African boys are my teachers.

I sit down to write my missionary prayer letter and stare at the page. My conferences, training events, and trips have been cancelled. What am I accomplishing?

Teach me, waterfall boys, that I am of worth even when non-productive.

I feel anxiety rise in my chest when I read about the new cases and recorded deaths. I worry about my financial future. What does tomorrow look like?

Teach me, waterfall boys, that this moment, right now, has blessings I miss when I give in to worry.

Do you find that this unusual season is beckoning us to come aside for a while, giving us pause to reflect on how we live? I do.

In March, I started a fresh study of the epistle of Ephesians. My heart was refreshed to read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph.1:3).

Paul then releases a praise hymn which splashes us with eternal riches for the soul. The blessings form three doxologies to God, like free waterfalls cascading down on us who believe in Jesus.

Cable news isn’t reporting it. My Google news feed hasn’t noticed. But it’s raining on us. Pouring, in fact. Free waterfalls are everywhere, plenty for everybody. Today let’s look up and smile at the goodness of God.

Teach us, waterfall boys, to splash and play in simple joys.


  1. You may want to pause and meditate on this truth. Find a relaxed posture and take a few, slow breaths. Close your eyes and put yourself with those African waterfall boys. Feel their joy! Maybe hold out your arms, palms up. Ask God to bring to mind the simple joys you possess today. Dismiss concerns about tomorrow.  Express your thanks to God for each of His lavish gifts.
  • Go back and read Ephesians chapter one, taking note of all the spiritual blessings God is pouring out on you right now. After you have done so, you may want to read my reflection called “Cascading blessings.”