I send you greetings filled with the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and His power residing in you who believe. This week as I prepare to bring the “Easter” message in our church, I am constantly reminded of my citizenship in heaven. Being in a foreign country, it is never far from my thoughts how easily my being here is questioned. Whenever I travel outside of the area of Yei County, I am asked for my papers giving me a right to be here in Sudan.
God has reminded me of my citizenship in His country, His kingdom (Phil 3:18-20). I have diplomatic immunity whenever I enter into the kingdom of darkness to rescue those who are caught there. I have my kingdom passport, stamped with the Blood of Jesus, giving me access in the foreign country of darkness. The devil will question my right to go into his domain but he can’t legally stop me from getting what belongs to the kingdom of light and bringing it out. He can use corruption to try and stop me but as long as I stand firm in who I am and where I come from, he fights a losing battle. I love that!
This week, as we have been continuing our ministry of teaching the nurses in the hospital to pray for the sick, we have been praying before we go there. As we have been praying, I have been asking God for the dead and meaning it. Oh, I have asked God to anoint me with the kind of faith it takes to pray for the dead to be raised, but I don’t think I ever believed I could have that extreme kind of faith. I have never even prayed for a dead person. As we were praying this week, I began to ask in faith, believing, for the dead. It just came out of my mouth and so I know it was not me purposely asking for this. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. I am tired of seeing the dead. I want to see life.
That day, as we arrived at the hospital, there was a lady lying in the dirt under a mango tree crying and wailing because she had lost a loved one. We looked and kept walking toward our classroom area to get ready for the teaching. I kept looking back at the lady and I finally had to go to her because I felt such compassion welling up inside me. As soon as I laid hands on her, I began to cry with her. I felt her pain and I didn’t even know her. The tears wouldn’t stop flowing, although silently. In Africa, when a person dies, all the women gather and cry with the grieving family. I felt a part of them this day. I felt their pain.
After praying, I then returned to the classroom and just kept looking out at the small crowd. Then I heard the Lord say to me, “This morning you asked Me for the dead. Did you mean it?” I was taken aback. Well, yes, I meant it, but now? I went back out to the crowd and asked where the husband was, in what ward. A lady took me to him and he was lying in the dorm style ward, people all over visiting their family members who were sick. No one seemed to pay any mind to the dead guy covered in a green sheet with his wife’s embroidery on it, right there in the midst of life going on all around him. There was one man standing there and I asked if this was his relative. He was the nephew. I asked if I could pray for his uncle and he said yes.
I stood at the foot of the bed and firmly took hold of his cold and stiff feet and began to pray. People were watching me all around and I was by myself in this. I closed my eyes and began to speak life into him and began to imagine his feet warming and moving beneath my touch as Jesus breathed life into him. I thought about a missionary to Africa, John G Lake I think, who said that when you pray for the dead, grab their feet because if their feet get warm then life is returning. I prayed with all this running through my mind and I was really expecting life to come. The world seemed to fade away and it was me and the dead guy and Jesus. After about ten minutes, I moved to the head of the bed and placed my hand on his head, which was still hidden under the sheet. I then told the uncle sorry and the uncle was glad I prayed, even though nothing happened.
I believe this was just a huge step of faith for me and there was no fear in me, even though people probably thought I was nuts. I just know that Jesus and the disciples were raising the dead and Jesus said we could too and so I went after that and I felt such compassion for the wife. I feel like this was a seed sown and the next time I step out in faith and pray for a dead person, something good will happen. In Luke 18:8 Jesus asked the disciples, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Jesus mentioned the word faith 46 times just in the gospels. I counted them. Faith is a huge deal to Him. I want bigger faith, I really do. I don’t want to fear man’s reaction anymore concerning what I do with my faith. I want to live the gospels in my heart and not just in my mind. It is with our mouths that we confess but it is with our hearts that we believe.
The cross is faith in action. Jesus had such great faith in what He was doing for all mankind on the cross, faith that would change the entire story of every life into eternity. He knew that people would think He was crazy, a heretic, doing things and saying things that were not normal. The Christianity of Jesus is the normal. Everything else is abnormal.
FAITH…… What does it really mean in each of our lives? I have not come even close to attaining it, but everyday I contend for it.
This week I planted almost two fields full of peanuts. Here we call them ground nuts. We have no tractors or plowing oxen, just out backs and hands and feet. It is hard and tedious work but we all work together, planting in other’s fields. This week some of us went to help a pastor’s wife plant her field. Then we planted a friend’s field, she is single and has a small child. Neither field belonged to any of us but we planted and sowed happily until it was finished. Job 12:8 says, “speak to the earth and it will teach you”. So many times, the earth teaches me about the great mysteries of the kingdom of God.
We planted another’s field with no expectation of a personal return. We just wanted to be a help to another in need. This is the fellowship of the believer’s. We shall all reap together in heaven, a great harvest. It’s not about what we reap here on the earth. I used to always think about seeing the harvest of the kingdom. I would do ministry for the reason of seeing a harvest. Now, I minister from the stance of only wanting to sow extravagantly, sowing everywhere in all fields, knowing that the harvest will come and bless those whom God has in mind to bless. I receive my blessing everyday because I know that He makes my heart grow bigger each time I sow. My heart is God’s harvest field. From that abundance I can sow extravagantly.
Last week at the hospital we prayed for a nurse, Felix, who came up in front of everyone and said that he could not quit drinking and smoking and he wanted to be set free. He was so humble and desperate for help. We prayed for him. Tuesday, he brought a friend who was in the same trouble. A week later Felix is still free from alcohol and cigarettes and he brought yet another friend! Felix is a new man and is so excited. All we did was pray with him. Jesus changed his heart and his life. We went to the hospital on Good Friday to pray for the sick and we went to visit Felix where he works on the TB ward.
He brought all the patients who could walk outside under a mango tree and we told them the good news of Jesus the Healer. We prayed for each patient and gave out Bibles. I prayed for one man in a wheel chair who hadn’t walked since January. When I finished I asked him to stand and take a few steps with me. He did! Haha! I told him to contend for the Lord’s strength and to not give up. We left and people were encouraged. Even if all we do is encourage people, it is more than not going at all. People need to hear good news. It is a sad and scary world for many and good news is hard to come by anymore. Jesus is always good news. In every situation, He is the good news.
Today is Resurrection Sunday and I preached this morning about the first sacrifice, in the Garden of Eden, when God had to kill an animal to make skins to cover Adam and Eve. I talked about how the Israelites had to depend on the high priest once a year to get atonement for their sins. Then I finished with the cross.
Well, during worship, a snake was found crawling in the overhead rafters. Everyone started focusing on this snake and it was too high up to do anything about anyway. I got everyone’s attention and asked them if they wanted to look at the devil today or look at Jesus. They all yelled, “JESUS!” and we commenced to worship again, eyes closed and taking no notice of the sneaky snake, who kept peeking out at us. When I started my message, I told them how ironic it was that Satan would attempt this day, of all days, to distract us. Satan tried a long time ago to make himself higher than God and it didn’t work then. He was cast out of heaven and made to crawl on his belly. I pointed to the cross in the center of our church and told them that Satan would never be higher than the cross, not ever! He was defeated at the cross. The church went crazy and cheered. Ha! Satan was put in his place and I gave the message with this snake hanging over our heads and never giving it any mind.
After the service, two of the older boys climbed up in the rafters and struck it down and cut off its head!!! Such a perfect resurrection message and the power of the cross and Satan being defeated!! I loved it! Earlier this week I prepared 120 little gift bags for the children, which contained plastic laces for weaving, beads and stickers and a cross bracelet and candy. They were so happy and spent the entire afternoon working on their crafts, even the older boys. A very pleasant day.