Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sometimes a Shepherd

It is 7 o'clock here in the village - do you know what that means? Outside we hear the generator engine begin cranking up to provide us with our few hours of electricity. It is one of our few guilty excitements as we sit in virtual darkness when the sun sets. We start looking at the clock and counting down - 6:57, 6:58, and when 7:00 comes and no lights the exclamations can be heard across the courtyard.

We are strangers in a strange land, and in our total American skin, at the end of the day covered from head to toe with the red dirt of Africa we praise God for Wet Wipes and deodorant.

After a tangle free night, we were all ready to begin the last day of our village work. The car started with no problem and we were off to another "upward high calling" across the African plains.

All the participants were waiting eagerly in the building. We began by passing out the Bibles. When we asked them if this was their first Bible the majority of them raised their hands and clapped for joy. Deb spent time teaching an overview of the Bible and giving many verses for them to write down to look up for help with daily life. At the conclusion, their questions indicated they had a clear understanding of the presentation and were hungry for more.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled". Mat 5:6

It was amazing to hear their questions, to see them look through their first Bible to find chapters and verses, and to see testimony of the verse: "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.".

In the darkness of the room there was the electric feeling of the Spirit of Truth breaking through the darkness.

I presented the Gospel before Iesha spoke on forgiveness and gave them verses to write down and showed them the "Lord's prayer". We broke for lunch leaving them sitting pouring over the Word. When we returned they were still looking through the Word, sharing verses and sitting together in small huddles like they were part of an ongoing Bible study.

We cried.

When we began the seminar again, one of the older Muslim men said "we need a Bible school to teach our children.". Another Muslim man asked for a Bible for his wife, and told the Pastor when the church is built he will be there.

Debi concluded the day with Love. How we should respond to one another followed by Advocacy - how a community should respond using Mat 25:34-45. To our amazement one by one the participants stood and read 2 verses a piece WITHOUT even being prompted to do so. They took pride in the reading of the Word they had been given.

Now I am beginning to feel a bit like the Apostle John who concluded : and there are many other things which Jesus did, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books (or email). John 21:25

The Pastor prayed at the close and asked the people to pray believing God would hear them and answer their prayers. The Pastor prayed with force and conviction, and we could hear various voices echoing and after a few minutes one woman starting screaming out "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" it was one of the few true "deliverances" I have witnessed. She was thrashing and screaming and the Pastor went and laid the Bible on her head and there was silence.

Enemy defeated.

The nation of Israel had the King they asked for (Saul) they had a significant army and yet they stood by and let a giant blaspheme the Name of the Living God afraid to move forward. God sent a shepherd to feed his brothers and wound up using him to knock the enemy down with a stone and behead Goliath with his own weapon.

As our team was debriefing I said "we cut the head off the Giant today". "You think?" They replied and as Deb had given the villagers the illustration of holding their Bibles up in their hands and saying "swords up" I confirmed her instruction "swords up - God's Word is sharper than any two-edged sword. The Word is now in the village - satan has lost his dominion."

As we were saying our farewell's the village women came in chanting the word "upendo" (love) and laying before us a huge sack of peanuts and a 5 gallon jug of honey - we wept at the "widows mite". For we have given out of our "plenty" - plenty of Bibles in our homes, opportunities to teach and be taught, food on our table each night, electricity to run every modern gadget and entertainment device, water clean enough to drink straight from the tap, and the ability to bathe with hot water and bubbles if we should so choose. These gave out of their poverty and yet through the Word they were made rich today.

Sometimes God sends a shepherd, and sometimes He sends 4 American women willing to go without showers, electricity, running water, or other modern conveniences for a few short days to witness the "captives" set free!

"The Lord is our shepherd, we shall not want, He made us lie down in the dark nights of Africa, He lead us without running water, He restored our souls through your prayers.

He lead us in the path of righteousness to teach for His Name's sake. And yea, though we walked through the village of the shadow of death - we feared no evil, for we knew He was with us, His presence was present and comforted us.

He prepared a table before us in the presence of murderers and thieves, He anointed and appointed us for this time and this place. Our cup ran over with the sweet treasure of honey from the poor.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow us on the 7+ hour journey to Mwanza tomorrow, and we will be once again in the house of the Lord forever.

Smiling Amen