I jumped at the chance and the next day left Nairobi in a minivan for a 6 hour long journey on some of the most horrendous roads imaginable towards the border of Tanzania. The minivan dropped me off on the side of the road and I met with Pastor Anderson who led me into the bush for a couple of kilometres as we walked to his house.
I arrived to find a small mud hut with no electricity, no running water and a little hole in the ground for a toilet. Pastor Anderson's two daughters were outside cooking over an open fire. Later that night we sat inside eating goat stew for dinner. I will never forget that first mouthful.
With the Anderson family watching me I put a heaped spoon of stew in my mouth and BAM! All I could taste was salt; it was such a distinctive flavour that it was all I could taste, and it nearly took my breath away.
As night fell I was amazed at just how dark it got out there as we were talking I literally could no longer see Anderson's face from just a few feet away. After a night of conversation I headed off to bed and, not being able to sleep, I thought it would be a good idea to listen to some music.
I pulled out my MP3 player and its tiny light illuminated the entire room, transforming my surroundings. As I lay in my bed thinking back through my day I was struck by how something so common as salt and something so obvious as light could have such a distinctive influence.
This experience really changed how I think about the very familiar passage in Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus calls his followers to be salt and light in the world.
When Jesus said "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men", he was calling his followers, calling those who have been transformed by his Spirit, to be distinctive from the world in which we live.
There is to be something tangibly different about us, something distinctive about our attitudes and our behaviours as we engage with our little part of the world and the people in it.
However, we are not only called to be distinctive in the world but we are also called to be the light of the world:
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven".
Jesus calls us to be distinctive by shining light into this world as we pour out our lives in the service of others, doing good works just as Jesus himself did.
It is important to note that these acts of service and good works are not so we can be recognised and glorified as "nice people" but so that we may direct people's praise and honour to our Father in heaven.