Testing And Perseverence

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Dapuri! Danapo! These are the greetings of the Kakwa people of Morobo, which is where the road took us this past weekend. This has been a place that we have visited twice before and we found ourselves leaving there each time seeing very little fruit. The ground is hard, still we sow. But the Lord is relentless in His pursuit of this border town. We have always traveled on the main road to Morobo, the one that all the traders use and the one that we use when traveling to Uganda. As we were leaving our village, our pastor said, “No, don’t go that way, let us go this way, the back way.” And so we went. It was a very beautiful drive through the bush country with Congo to our right all the way.

When we arrived I received a call from one of our friends in town asking if we were okay and where were we? He said that there was a highway robbery by rebels on the road to Morobo and two women were injured, one put in the hospital. I tell you, when you allow God to direct your path, no harm shall come to you. I am reminded of the testimony of Paul as they were heading to Bithynia in Acts 16. The Holy Spirit had them go another way. In this land of violence at every turn, if one does not follow Holy Spirit, one will run straight into trouble. We praised God for directing our path and for keeping us in His perfect will.

Our pastor had a dream the night before we left and I was in it and we were in a place near a church and I looked at my pastor and told him in the dream, “We will see breakthrough here today.” We were very encouraged by this dream as we arrived in Morobo and expected breakthrough. Our biggest enemy was the spirit of religion. If we could break through this wall then God would handle everything else. Every time we have visited, the people would tell us that they are such and such religion and go to such and such denomination church, when we asked if they had a relationship with Jesus Christ. They had the thinking that if they went to a big denominational church and were sprinkled at birth with water then their entry into heaven was guaranteed. When we spoke of intimacy and relationship with Jesus, they were uncomfortable. So this was where we were looking for breakthrough. And we found it!

We visited many houses the first day and many people encountered Jesus. It seemed that wherever we went people were weary of their struggles, not understanding why they were struggling, mostly in their health, and other areas. We found some who had quit going to church and praying wondering what was the point. In many cases we found unforgiveness toward others and people who had no understanding of a god Father. Everywhere we went people were so receptive to the gospel, it was wonderful. We encountered an entire family who had given up on God and the next day they were in church for our discipleship training.

Another group of ladies had been standing by the road, twenty of them, for no “obvious” reason so our team stopped and ministered to them, greatly encouraging them in their faith which had lapsed. The team was very encouraged by everything they encountered. We are finding that many people get discouraged with God and tire of the wait. They stop going to church, which compounds the problem, taking them even further away from God. I pray that enough people were encouraged to then go and reignite others. I did encounter one little guy that became part of my ministry to one family. A baby monkey was clinging to a tree pole fearfully and crying (screeching) until I took him and brought him very close to my body where he found comfort. You can imagine what my ministry topic was about, the shelter of Father God when you grow fearful and weary of these times we are living in here in South Sudan. Cling to the Father, it’s the safest place to be.

On the admin side of things, you know, the place I wish could be a no-brainer? I experienced a full week of being consumed with a decision that I had to make concerning one of my staff members. Without going into a full explanation I took it before the Lord and felt like I had heard Him and so I made a decision from there. I went forward with the decision and told the staff member to pray about it. Within one hour of meeting together again after a week I suddenly felt that my decision was a wrong decision. I was so confused because I really thought I heard the Lord and now I got confirmation to leave everything as is and it all ended well. I thought, “Why did we have to go through all of that God?” Did I hear wrong? It was a really serious issue. I really had to choke back tears.

I realized that even Abraham was told by God to do something and at the last minute, God said leave everything as it is. Isaac was to live and not die. I told my staff member that I think that maybe this was some kind of test from God that one of us, or even both of us, had to go through. If you think about it, Isaac was a big boy and could have run from his father who might have seemed to have lost it in Isaac’s eyes. My dad is trying to kill me? But something made Isaac stay. He made a choice to offer even himself to be sacrificed. He was old enough to “fight off” his father. None of this is in the Bible but one has to think what it might have been like for Isaac. He chose to do the will of God and his earthly father, even unto death and losing something very dear.

Both of us, my staff member and I, responded very humbly to the situation and were willing to do whatever the Lord asked of us. We would both lose something very dear yet we were willing. Then God told me at the last minute to stop. Continue in the way that you two have been going, everything is okay. I felt like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders. I also knew that I would be willing to do what God wants me to do when He wants me to do it. There will come a time when harder decisions will have to be made, harder sacrifices given with a right and obedient heart. I passed this test, my staff member passed this test. I pray God has something incredible ahead for the both of us together in ministry, just like Abraham and Isaac!

I feel like every single week that goes by I draw ever closer to the Father’s side, ever closer to His mouth so I can hear Him speak. The best way to hear from your Father is to get very close and “incline” your ear to hear. His wisdom is the best. I am reminded of the days when I would sit and listen to my Grandpa Goodman tell me so many stories from our family history and so many stories about doing the right thing and walking with God. I simply adored him and never got tired of hearing his stories. I would incline my ear and even find a place close to him. I just loved those times. Every Sunday after church my Grandma Goodman would rest in her bed for a bit after lunch. She wouldn’t sleep, she would be read or watch a bit of TV. But I loved going into her room, saying nothing, just climbing into her bed and napping beside her because it was there that I found peace and rest in my week, in the quiet of just being close. So, when I think about my God, my Father, this is the place of drawing close, of finding rest.

I pray that this week you draw ever closer to your Father’s side and hear His voice full of wisdom and blessing for you, and yes, sometimes even great testing and trusting.