Saturday, October 18, 2008
God Heard My Cry
God answers prayer. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for the answer. But God's timing is perfect.
Below is the story of the miracle we experienced last week when God answered our prayer.
Some of you will remember we have had a “rough year”. Beginning in November last year when one of the young women discovered she was pregnant. There was a huge fight among the young adults in our church mostly about who was the father since it could have been several of them and no one wanted to take responsibility, specifically to help pay with hospital costs. Some were supporting the woman and the men were supporting the one boy, who she said was the father. The church was splitting in half along “boy-girl” lines. When the men came, if they came, they came with an attitude. They would refuse to look “across the aisle”. I preached. I counseled. We had a few breakthrough moments and then it would revert back to the hatred. I really was having trouble reaching the men. Because they did not want to see or talk with the young woman, they started leaving the church. Two joined the Jehovah's Witnesses.
That's where we were on October 3, 2008. But to tell the story of this miracle faithfully, I have to go back about three years when I was reading the D.O.O.R. Costa Rica Newsletter. I was interested in it at the time because I wondered if some of our leaders might benefit from going to Costa Rica to participate in their training. (It’s a center for training deaf church leaders.) I noticed that they had pictures and biographies of about 20 deaf people from all over the south-western hemisphere. ONE name and picture stuck out for me. His name is Ian. My heart raced a little and I immediately thought maybe this man will be our leader. Maybe he will help to reach the men. I cut out the picture and put it on my wall, but waited a year until he graduated to contact him. When I emailed DOOR, they didn't reply. I didn't know how to get in touch with Ian. Over a year passed… his picture was still on the wall. I looked at it and thought, if God wants this man to come to Belize how will he even know about this ministry? Eventually I told Galen and Gloria, my mission board supervisors, because they have contacts in Trinidad where Ian lives. I asked them if they could find him in Trinidad, but that never happened. I still did not know how to reach him and put it on the back burner. This summer someone sent me an email which directed me to Facebook.com. I never have time for the many online friendship sites, but decided to try it and see if Ian was on Facebook. He was, (in fact he had just recently joined.) I sent him email. I asked him to come help us for 10 days to see how he fits with us and if the men will learn from him.
HE CAME! He came to Belize October 3 to 13. He arrived and the men who were angry and not attending church came to see what he had to say. He preached. He taught Bible at school. He had lunch with some of the men and then we had our Friday Night Girl’s Night Bible Study. We invited the young men. Ian taught and every one of the adult men and adult girls confessed and repented. They each made a public confession of wanting to follow the Lord. EVEN the very angry, sometimes aggressive "father" of the newly born baby. He confessed. He said he wanted to turn around. He said he wanted to follow Jesus. He even talked to the young mother and offered to help with baby costs and try to work on their relationship for the sake of the baby. It was a miracle.
"God is able to do far more than we could ask or imagine." (Eph 3:20.)
All of the people in our church love Ian. They use his signs (he signs some things differently) out of respect because they want to do things the way IAN does it. He knows what and why he believes but shares patiently and gently. He listens and seems to receive wisdom from the Lord. When he teaches, they WATCH. I trust him.
While he was praying alone, he thought God was telling him to come back to Belize. He thinks that God wants him in Belize to help lead the church, particularly the men. We don’t know the details of when, where he will live, what he will do for money but we are trusting God with those details. He said he will come back and stay as long as God needs him. He is starting a new job in November in Trinidad. He has commitments there. But he said he senses God calling him to Belize and does not want to "pull a Jonah".
Isn't this crazy? How can I invite someone I've only known 10 days to come and work in this ministry? How can he leave his comfortable life, church and friends for a much poorer life here in Belize?
I'm reminded of this passage in Matthew:
"When John was in prison asking, "Are you the One who is supposed to come? Or should we look for someone else?"
Jesus replied, "Go back to John and report what you have seen. The blind have received sight. Disabled people walk. Lepers are healed and Deaf people hear. Those who are dead are raised to life. And good news is preached to the poor." (Matthew 11:2-5).
I know that we fasted and prayed periodically for two years asking God to send someone. When he came he preached the Word mightily and consistently. He spoke with wisdom and patience. Some people in our group who were hardened to each other, opened their hearts and asked for forgiveness. They gave their hearts to the Lord.
Is Ian the One who is supposed to come help us? As crazy and "dangerous" and risky as this sounds:
I'm sure of it.
Praise to Him who hears our cries for help. He answers our prayer.