Monday, a week ago, after school we all packed up and went to spend the night at the beach in our tents, all 100 of us. We slept under the stars of the Indian Ocean off of the eastern coast of Africa and watched the sun set. At 11pm some of us went out on the water, actually out where the water used to be because the tide had gone out at least a half mile and maybe even further. It was out to where we could only hear it in the distance. There were little tide pools everywhere about shin deep. We caught shrimp with our bare hands and with the help of a ball cap and came back in close to midnight and boiled them in a pot over a fire. And we ate them of course! They were wonderful. Then we watched the sun rise at 5:15 am. During the night, the tide had come back in. By the time we had coffee and rolls with butter and jam, the tide had gone clear back out again. We walked out and visited with the local women as they collected clams and octopus. I got to hold a live octopus that was wrapped around one woman’s arm. She turned the head inside out and it was basically rendered motionless.
This last weekend we went to three villages in the bush in just over 24 hours. We left on Friday and arrived in time to put up our tents in one village and drove to another some miles away and set up for the Jesus movie. Our generator wouldn’t work and we ended up paying a village guy to fix it for 500 mets (about $20). After the Jesus movie we prayed for the sick and many were healed. I still don’t know all of the testimonies because our teams split up and went to different villages. One boy pushed his way thru the crowd and had this orange sized tumor on the top of his head. Before one team could even lay hands on his head, it disappeared before their very eyes! The boy had a look of shock on his face. Wow Jesus!! As I was praying I felt the Lord tell me to ask that anyone who is deaf bring them forward. I was so nervous to say this because I was basically saying God WILL heal them. A young boy was brought by his brother and within minutes he could hear because God opened up his ears!!! He was giving the thumbs up sign and grinning from ear to hearing ear! Praise Jesus!
What a night! We didn’t get back to camp until 1 a.m. and ate dinner and went to bed at 2 a.m. Then we were up at 6 and in the truck at 630 a.m. with no coffee or breakfast because we had to do some baptisms. We went to a slimy stagnant pond under a small bridge and baptized 10 people. Then we came back, swallowed some rolls and coffee and went to dedicate a church and have a service and perform a wedding. This took 5 hours! We got back to camp and ate goat and rice and shema and then packed up our tents and went to the next village and set up our tents again and set up for the Jesus movie again.
Again we prayed for them and a guy was brought forward who had a white film over his eyes. I personally waved my hand in front of his face and snapped my fingers and got no response. We prayed for a bit and I asked if he could see. He said it was getting better and so we stayed with it. We asked again and tested him to see if he could count our fingers. He could see praise God!!! He then said that when he came here tonite he couldn’t see and now he can see everything! Jesus healed him!!
Another young boy came forward and pointed to his ears and couldn’t hear. We would ask their friends what the name of the deaf person was and we would say it right next to their ear to check for a response. None. And so we prayed. And when we whispered his name he repeated it! And when we whispered Jesus he repeated it! Jesus healed him!!! There were many more healings this nite! The next morning we again got up at 6 am and did baptisms right away. This time we went to a beautiful lake and had to clear away all the plants that float on top to make a space to dunk people. It was beautiful. It was right next to the main school in all of Mozambique where all the government leaders go to school. We returned to camp and again dedicated another church, had another service and did another wedding. The dedication started at 930 a.m. and went straight thru to the wedding and it didn’t end until 4pm!!! These people have church! No one had any water or food and we sat on the ground or stood the entire time.
People here are desperately hungry for more of God and every service is a celebration. Most of the service and dedications and weddings are constantly about giving God the glory. They don’t preach a heavy message. They just praise God and tell of His greatness and love and all His attributes. You would think they would run out of things to say but they don’t. It’s amazing how much honor and glory they give God. They never hurry through anything. The man who was healed of blindness actually walked from his village that we were at last nite to the one we drove to today which was about an hours drive. He had to have walked a long way. He wanted more of Jesus and he came and told everyone how last nite he couldn’t see and now he can see everything! Wow Jesus!
Every week we learn to die a little more to our selves. I am learning that I can’t even have a daily agenda here. In third world countries and in the mission field, schedules don’t exist. People are what matter. It doesn’t matter how tired you are or what you think “needs” to get done, people come first. They are all about relationships. Relationships come before everything. They go all day without water and food to commune with God. Nobody has an agenda or schedule to keep.
We are being taught by people who have been in the mission field for 30 plus years. These are people who are living the life and standing firm in the storms against all adversity. Every one of their messages carries the same theme; know who you are in Christ and keep dying to self. Mathew 12:39-40 tells us that the only sign we will see of the coming of the end of the age is the sign of the prophet Jonah. The sign of Jonah was that he died to himself. He didn’t do what he wanted to do. He did what God asked him to do. Until he did that, he had no power or anointing to do anything. When he died to himself, he carried an anointing to lead an entire nation to repentance and salvation from utter destruction. We don’t see enough churches that put a sign out front that says, “Come and die and then God will use you powerfully”. Death is messy. You lose all control of your body. Wow, think about that.
This sign is not about resurrection, it’s about the death of our identity and our agenda. Jesus is revealing truth to us in these last days that will cause many to turn away. Just like when Jesus revealed the truth about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, many turned away. The disciples knew that there was nowhere else to go. They left everything to follow Him. There was no turning back. They found their identity in Jesus, not in the fact that they were fishermen or tax collectors or school teachers or pastors or elders in a church or car salesmen. They had nothing to fall back on except to follow Jesus. I am learning to understand and love this place of being nothing but being found in Jesus.
Luke 14:12-23 tells of the great banquet that many were invited to yet few attended. Heidi told us about her daughter’s wedding last year which took place here in Pemba. The richest man in Pemba offered to throw a reception in their honor. He invited 100 guests. He went to Dubay and bought 100 silver plates and had his servants personally deliver them with the invitation to attend the reception. It was an extravagant invitation. This rich man honored the guests by the way he offered the invitation.
How do we invite guests to the banqueting table of the Lord? Do we just throw a tract out there or invite them in passing or do we get excited about the feast and invite the guest with great excitement? When inviting the lost and poor and hungry to come to Jesus, we need to honor them by being excited about the feast. How do we offer Jesus to the poor? The way it is offered really does matter. Maybe we should offer a meal for their stomachs before we offer the Living Bread. Then their eyes could see Jesus. This is Heidi’s heart. It’s all about the heart.
I spend the majority of my ministering time just holding kids and loving extravagantly or just talking with the locals, trying to learn their language and their ways. They love when we take the time to give of ourselves much more than our money or things. I am tired every night when I fall into bed but very filled with living water. I am growing more and more hungry every day to meet all of the children of God, of Africa! I continue to think of all of you often and I miss you.