Over the course of our 40 years in ministry, my husband and I have had many incredible opportunities. We have shared the gospel with immense crowds. We have shared the gospel with individuals. We have traveled to distant places and we have traveled to our next door neighbors. We have sweated; we have shivered. We have been hungry; we have eaten mystery meals. While we cannot say with Paul that we have been beaten with rods or suffered shipwreck, we can identify with the inconveniences and trials of being ministers of the gospel, as well as the overwhelming joy of seeing a soul come to Christ.
We determined from the beginning that we would go wherever God directed us, speak to whoever would listen, and give whatever was required. God would provide the strength, the means, and the grace. We would not complain about the things we didn’t have, but would trust God to give us everything needed from His abundance. Because of that determination, we have seen thousands upon thousands come to the knowledge of God. We have eaten lunch under coconut trees on a beach in Haiti while sharing the gospel with one young girl. And we have been entertained in the home of a former president of Haiti, surrounded by his bodyguards, while we lead him to faith in Christ. We have driven the bumpy, sandy, pot-holed roads of Ghana and we have experienced the round and around, don’t-look-down roads through Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains. We have slept in houses that believers have moved out of just so we could have a place to stay because they are so honored to have us in their village and we have been escorted in limousines to the Governor’s Mansion where we would sleep before a city-wide campaign.
Our favorite verse has been Philippians 4:11-13, “...I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. - I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.”
The gospel is just that important. Who am I to tell God where I will go and under what conditions. I am His worker, under His authority.
And yet. A few weeks ago, I had a moment.
We had been in the mountains of Mexico, and were nearing the end of our trip. We came to a quaint, little hotel in the city. And it had air conditioning. Apparently I had misunderstood the itinerary. I thought we had one more meeting and then a day off. So at breakfast I asked what time we were leaving for our meeting that night. Our host said, “We will leave the hotel at noon to catch the bus. After a two hour bus ride we will be picked up by the pastor who will drive us another hour to the village where we will have the meeting. We will stay two nights at his ranch and then he will drive us to the airport.”
I have to leave the air conditioning. I can do this.
We took the bus and met the pastor. He brought us to his daughter’s car and informed us that she would drive us to the ranch.
The girl was a race car driver. I’m sure she was trained by Mario Andretti. She drove so fast and when we would come to a curve marked ‘peligroso’ - ‘dangerous’ - she never even slowed down.
I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I sat in the back of the car and I started talking to God. I said, “God, I’m not happy.”
Now I know that God does not exist to make me happy, but I thought He ought to know.
I thought to myself, we’re going to a ‘ranch’. My idea of a ranch is the Ponderosa from the 50’s tv show Bonanza. But I’m pretty sure this ‘ranch’ will not be the Ponderosa. Little Joe will not come riding up on his horse and I don’t think Hop Sing will be in the kitchen either. No. This will be a little house with animals and a garden, and pit toilets and no screens on the windows, and a bath in a bucket. God, I’m not happy. Then I added, and nobody will probably even get saved. They’ll just sit there and look at us.
I told Him how much I’d already given and that I was tired. I’m not happy, God.
After a little while I heard a quiet voice. It was God. He said, “Would you do it for one?”
Seriously? I thought to myself. But, what can I say? To God?
So I sighed, and said, “Sure, God. I’ll do it for one.”
We got to the ranch and it was just like I thought, pit toilets and all. The Pastor and his family were sweet and they gave us everything they could. We ate and prepared for the meeting.
It was an outdoor meeting on a sweltering night. About seventy-five people and two dogs came. Just like I thought, the crowd was quiet. My husband shared a message of salvation. He spoke about the love of God. That God came to seek and to save those who are lost. That Jesus paid the price for our sin, for our sickness and for the needs of our hearts. That God wants us to live full, happy, abundant lives.
Then he gave an altar call. Nobody moved. Nobody came. We couldn’t even get the dogs to come forward.
Then he called for anyone who wanted prayer. Prayer for healing, physical or emotional. A musician started playing the guitar. And here, in this place - under the stars, a single guitar - the power of God came, the presence of the Holy Spirit.
A man came forward, tears streaming down his face. This is Mexico, land of the ‘macho man’. But here was a man, devastated. He had been abused as a child. My husband and the Pastor prayed for him.
And God whispered, “This is the one.”
Now, a family came. The father had abandoned them. The daughter was so angry. The mother concerned that her daughter could not forgive. They prayed and counseled with her.
And God whispered, “This is the one.”
A mother came. She had lost two children. She was heartbroken. The Pastor and my husband prayed.
And God whispered, “This is the one.”
And one by one they came. One by one they received their answer. And God whispered, “This is the one.”
The meeting ended. The crying man was embracing his father. The young girl had found forgiveness. The mother was smiling, comforted.
And I was humbled and repentant.
Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus, although he was fully God did not count it a ‘thing to be grasped, but emptied himself’. He ‘stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity’ of being God. And He became a man.
He laid aside all that it meant to be God as if he was taking off a coat and laying it aside.
He left the splendor of Heaven.
And became a human and lived on earth.
That is much more than me leaving my home and traveling to what we call a Third World Country.
And more than that, Jesus ‘abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!’
But because He did - ‘[because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him...’ Phil 2:6-8 AMP
Because He did, we have salvation, peace, hope.
But is that salvation so that we can be happy with our own safe, secure and comfortable lives? Or could we lay aside our ‘selves’ for a time, could we be emptied, stripped of our privileges and rights, just to help others find the way? Could we go outside our zone, make ourselves uncomfortable, so that we could tell someone how to find peace? Could we leave behind even our own dignity so that someone else could know the King of Heaven and find a permanent home in His presence?
Paul said, ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’ Rom 8:18
It doesn’t even compare!
Would I do it for one? Yes. Yes. And Yes. And I always will. Jesus did it for me. And I am only one. I can go to all the world. For one. And for one more. And for one more.