Thursday, February 27, 2014

Can God turn deserts into oases? Come and See!

Our team returned yesterday from 3 days in the Oaxaca mountains, definitely off the beaten track. Felt almost like ‘Yanquis bandidos’ in a long ago scene from Butch Cassidy + the Sundance Kid! Miles before we turned off the highway, my Jeep companions pointed to a vague line snaking its way up a distant mountain and disappearing beyond… into the heavens?
‘We’re headed up there!’ they motioned. I was sure they were teasing me, but an hour later there we were, looking from the opposite perspective: down rather than up, bouncing around in the back seat from rock face to cliff side, suddenly turning bends, confronting large trucks and barely avoiding swerving motorcycles, wondering how there could be life in the midst of these brown cactus- barrens, let alone towns with people.
No need for Mexico City speed bumps out here!
I’ve been in desert-country before, but this was really bleak… until we got over the top and the views across the canyon proved magnificent! Fields sprinkled the mountainsides; villages clung defiantly to their terraced tops. Winds cleared our afternoon view, but in the evening they whipped in banks of dense fog that spring unexpectedly upon us, rolling around and around, until they opened to a candelabra of glittering stars in the heavens that civilization so often hides.
Kind of like life, right? We tend to get lost in the details and lose the Big Picture!
I drew plenty of parallels to my last 4 months’ journey on this stage of my missionary trip. Endless dry terrain, rocks, bumps, bleak terrain, blind curves… unsure of what was coming next, but waiting for the heavens to open and reveal a once out-of-reach glory such as we’d never been seen before!
Can God turn deserts into oases?
Truly, the Lord is at work and has led me to see what could not have come to light in the valley.
3 wonderful experiences shone through the fog and what had before seemed just a dark valley and barren sky. Nothing is or happens without purpose. God has purpose in all He is and does. His kingdom unfolds in time + purpose. In our complexities, we need to see His simplicity like Jesus: see what Father is doing and follow Him.
1st: Saturday’s Youth meeting shifted sharply when Pastor Brent began sharing about Erica, the 88 Days, how her disappearance touched so many and the irony of how we had been having coffee only a short distance away when Tim found her body on New Year’s Eve. Brent was standing directly in front of me. I stood and took the mic and shared how Erica’s heart was always for youth. At 16, she’d saved her own money, raised funds and bought a school bus so youth like these could attend gospel meetings. As I spoke, the Holy Spirit fell: Ingrid, our interpreter, started weeping, others too and soon Pastor Adonias… and me… and Brent all ended up in a big wet hug, together at the front while the young people watched it all play out before them! Many had heard part of Erica's story and had been praying for us, but now their eyes saw this manifest outpouring: the fruit of God’s love!
2nd: Sunday’s service and about 50 received Jesus as their Saviour! A wonderful harvest with an equally wonderful church response as workers immediately responded to come alongside and + personally counsel and pray with them!
Then a time of ministry to married couples followed and I felt pretty lost, alone and even sorry for myself; like only ½ there without Erica by my side.
I longed for the meeting to be over and began to gather my things together.
But God had other plans and soon people were gathering around, asking me to pray with them!
I felt completely inadequate.
One young woman brought her newly engaged girlfriend and asked for prayer to help prepare her heart for marriage. I agreed and as I prayed, the new fiancee began to tear up. Ingrid was busy interpreting elsewhere, so the friend who had originally asked for prayer stepped in and interpreted for me.
More couples surrounded us for more prayer. The need was evident, so this young woman and I became a spontaneous prayer- translator team over the next hour. After this, Jackie (that was her name) shared with me how Erica’s story had deeply touched her heart, and when Ingrid joined us again, I found myself praying Erica’s Deborah anointing over both of them –warrior women who will not accept the devil’s ‘No’ for an answer, but will stand for truth against this world’s injustice.
God poured out His Spirit again and soon all of us were weeping.
Erica’s legacy is not in vain: He is raising up more Deborahs!
3rd: Yesterday we had an evening meeting with the Sheppards and their church in Puebla. Pastor David has translated my Come Follow Me discipleship booklet into Spanish and after I’d shared about how we need both Word + Spirit wings to cut through enemy confusion, another lady approached me. She was leaving to work the night shift in the local hospital, and I told her I saw her like Florence Nightingale: a Lady with a Lamp, shining light into the darkest places.
As her story unfolded, it turns out her name is Luz which means ‘light’ and she has been using these translated booklets in her work as a psychologist, helping suicidal patients find hope!
She has such a compassion for her patients that she even takes her break-time to encourage them in the Scripture and prayer!
That did it for me! Seeing God work it so my booklet was now encouraging suicidal patients to keep walking where Erica had fallen victim opened the heavens above and the fountains of the deep again!
Imagine: actually meeting a lady here in Mexico named Light using the light of my newly translated booklet to shine against that very darkness that sought to extinguish Erica’s light.
The ways of God are truly beyond understanding!

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