The sun shone with unparalleled brightness while its heat beat on Amara’s bare shoulders and head as she was led on a narrow arid road.
Her guide, Mark, the leader of a group of people who called themselves the Jesus Tribe, was taking her to a place where she would understand why they lived as they did.
They arrived in the desert area, located outside the town, and walked to an undisclosed location. To Amara, who was sweating like the goat they passed in town on their way, it seemed like an eternity. It had only been ten minutes.
She didn’t dare complain though, Mark led the community as its leader, and people held him in high regard. Why? Amara had no idea.
He didn’t appear rich, tall, or handsome. His face and hands showed signs of toughness and a life that was accustomed to it. Whatever the community respected must be inside of the man. His intelligence and skills, perhaps?
Amara wiped her forehead with the sleeves of her t-shirt as she started praying for redemption from the long walk and a tall glass of iced water. She smiled; her mates were praying for better things.
Up ahead, she saw a massive tree in the arid landscape. The tree stood tall and alone, and shock of shocks, it had a full crown of green leaves and branches sprouting everywhere.
“How is that possible?” She asked herself out loud.
Mark turned and smiled at her. “That’s where we are going.”
They walked the short distance to the tree and found relief under its shade. Mark opened his little backpack and removed two bottles of cold water, which they shared.
They finished their water, and Mark stashed the bottles in his bag as he turned to the tree.
“Amara, you asked me how people can choose to live for God? This tree will help me explain the reason for it. When you look at the tree, what do you see?” He asked, looking at her.
“Well, I noticed that it’s rooted in a dry place, and it has a lot of green leaves. Does it bear fruit?”
“It’s an apple tree. Everything you noticed is correct. The tree is standing tall and strong and deeply rooted in the desert. How is that possible for an apple tree?
“To produce good-quality fruits, trees need lots of feeder roots in the surface soil so they can take up plenty of water and nutrients. The surface soil should be deep, soft, stable, well-structured, well-drained, fertile, and cool in hot weather. The pH level should be between 5.8 and 6.5.
“However, desert soil is mostly loamy sand, derived from granitic rocks and other related rocks. The soil here is deficient in organic matter. It’s high in potassium and has pH’s around 7.5 to 8.0.
“If all that is so, how is it possible for this tree to stand? How is it getting its water and essential nutrients? The soil surface is not soft, nor is it fertile for the tree.”
Amara looked from Mark to the tree as she absorbed all the information he shared and asked herself the same questions he did.
“It is supernatural. The tree is a symbol of truth, proving that the supernatural occurs in this natural plain we all dwell.
“What’s the use of the symbol, you might ask? It helps us remember that in Christ, the Jesus Tribe can live the supernatural life every day of our lives.
“The most important use of the tree, in my opinion, is that it reminds us that we are all branches in the vine that is Christ.
“Look at this tree, looking healthy in a place where it shouldn’t. It reminds us that in Christ, because He lives, we live, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. The branches living off the tree remind us to draw all we need from God, strength, sustenance, wisdom, etc. Under its shade, we are covered from the elements, just as both of us are now. If you know psalm 91, the first two verses apply. When you hear, in Christ, we stand, this tree paints the picture.
“Imagine being a branch under this tree. Do you think you would lack anything? But once you are broken off, your sustenance is cut off. You would no longer be protected under its shade, and the most important, you will not be able to bear fruit and fulfill God’s purposes in your life.”
Mark stopped and waited for questions, and when none came decided to ask one of his own.
“Why were you standing under the bridge at night?”
Amara looked away. Her first instinct was to lie to the man of God, as she now thought of him in her mind, but she hesitated, uncaring of judgment.
“I am a prostitute. I was waiting for a customer before Gbenga picked me up and invited me to your fellowship.” She said, looking at him as she spoke.
Mark smiled. “We all have our histories—fraudsters, liars, murderers, adulterers, thieves, etc. I helped a gang scam rich Germans out of their hard-earned money about ten years ago. You would have called me a 419 fraudster.” He said, smiling at the upward movement of her eyebrows.
“We are all standing before God now, and so can you. Gbenga asked me to speak with you before you leave us today. I know what you are going back to, but we invite you to come and join us. Come and live out God’s purpose for your life with our tribe. There is no need to remain in the same situation when help is available. I want you to think about it, please.”
Amara looked down at her shoes. What he asked wasn’t possible.
“What will I be doing for your tribe? I can’t be eating and sleeping forever?”
Mark smiled. “Gbenga was coming back from work when he saw you, and the Holy Spirit asked him to pick you up. You will be taught to seek and to know God for yourself. God will direct you on the life He planned for you. On the side, you can help out in the community once in a while.”
Amara nodded. Mark’s request seemed possible with every word he uttered; however, something else bothered her.
“Will God forgive me?” She asked, looking at him again. Her need for confirmation came from a place of desperation. A change had been presented as a gift, and she wanted it with all her heart. She needed to know that she wouldn’t be turned away in the end.
Mark turned and held her by the shoulders, looking into her eyes. “God sent Gbenga to you because He loves and cares for you, and Gbenga brought you to me. All of it was in God’s plan for you. He makes a way where there are none and rivers in the desert. Let this tree be a reminder when you doubt his love. He will not leave you nor forsake you as long as you live and believe.”
Amara nodded as possibilities flashed before her: freedom, life, family, a future.
She smiled at Mark and nodded again. “I want to be part of the tribe.”
Mark nodded, smiling. “Praise God.”
Till next time, be transformed!!