I recently returned from an intense 2 weeks of serving in Haiti and Cuba. After having some time to reflect, the following thoughts and observations stood out to me:
Without it, I believe the effectiveness of our mission would be dead before it hits the ground. Ephesians 4:3, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I was both amazed and thankful as the church at home was devoted to prayer while the mission teams worked to serve Jesus in unity of Spirit. Unity can be tested as one day grinds into another in 100 degree heat, close quarters, sleeping on floors and roofs, getting bounced around a bus like you’re in a pinball machine for miles on end, walking & sweating continuously, warring against sickness, listening to warnings about food, water and communist spies, preaching, teaching and praying through translators, engaging people possessed by demonic spirits! However, by the power of Almighty God and the diligent discipline of the awesome people I served with, the bond of peace was preserved and the gospel was shared. It seems that when we know how important unity is, we bring the right kind of focus to ensure it happens. We are prayerful, humble, disciplined and alert.
JESUS AND THE WORD IN ANY CULTURE
It is absolutely jaw dropping to watch the convicting, encouraging, life-changing power of the Word of God work the same way in any language and culture. Whether it is preached to wealthy business owners in America, communist citizens in Cuba, or poverty ridden village dwellers in Haiti, the expression on people’s faces and their subsequent response is exactly the same. I watched discouraged, oppressed believers in Cuba openly weep tears of joy as the Word of God lifted their downtrodden spirits. I could visibly observe them go from feeling defeated and hopeless to victorious, passionate and bold about sharing the gospel. Their demeanor was changed instantly as they were reminded of Christ’s mission, God’s protection and the fact that we are together citizens of another land and our King is coming! I watched in stunned awe as the gospel moved people to openly repent and confess Jesus as Lord in Haiti, then in America when I was home in between trips, then again in Cuba. No gimmicks, false promises, or emotional manipulation. One on one on the streets, outside in the open air swatting mosquitoes, packed inside hot sweaty church buildings that were radiating heat from sunbaked cinder block walls, using makeshift sound systems, sometimes no sound system at all, we presented Jesus Christ as Savior and the Holy Spirit brought souls to eternal salvation before our very eyes. In Haiti we approached a convulsing, tormented, demon possessed man that had been cursed by a voodoo witch doctor and declared the authority of Jesus’ name over his life. 3 minutes later he was calmly sitting down with a crowd gathered around him laughing and talking in total coherency. An angry man approached Erin & I in Cuba, said something bizarre to me in Spanish and placed a strange stone with some markings on it next to me and walked away. Shortly after that I came down with a nearly debilitating fever, chills and headache. Later I woke up in the morning feeling sick to my stomach and almost unable to stand. I sat in a chair and 3 people on our team placed hands on me and prayed the victorious blood of Christ over my body and soul. As they were praying my body became burning hot and I began pouring sweat. When they were done, I stood up, grabbed my backpack and walked outside to the bus. 15 minutes later I had my strength back and preached multiple times that day. Philippians 2:11, “…Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Sometime in my generation it has become hip to smart off and denigrate the USA. People seem to love being an armchair quarterback as they loudly lament government, capitalism, health care, well fare, the military, Wall street, taxes, gas prices, minimum wage etc. We stand around water coolers and backyards complaining about everything from potholes in the roads to the lawn service not cutting our grass the right way. I don’t mean to appear in a mood here, but I’d like to take some of our complaining selves and drop us into a communist dictatorship for about 6 months. A place where you can’t own property, you’re assigned a job by the government, given limited food rations and get kicked out of college for believing in Jesus. Or some malaria, zika, typhoid fever infested settlement someplace where toilets are a hole in the ground, you get water from a hand pump, health care is barely heard of, children get sick and die, and electricity is non-existent. Maybe that would cause some of that spoiled, entitled, arrogant, know it all, hate America attitude to come crawling back through the immigration line, fall to your knees and kiss the ground while crying tears of gratitude to God for allowing you to live where you live and how you live. I’m not here to say America is the end all, be all. After all, I’m a citizen of a different Kingdom anyway. I just believe that for Christ-followers, being born an American is a calling like being born into wealth or royalty. We bear an immense responsibility to our Lord Jesus who by sovereign design has placed us here and armed us with great resources to be used to take the gospel to the world. Multiple believing men in Cuba thanked me with tears in their eyes for coming and encouraging them when they needed it. They expressed how it was impossible for them to come to where we live to receive that needed shot in the arm from their American brothers and sisters in Christ. It dawned on me in that conversation…the Lord has given me many things that I am accountable to use for His glory. Good health, a strong voice, financial stability, a godly upbringing, a biblical education, a God-fearing wife, an incredible church family…my US citizenship. Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”