Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who is Boss?

In my years of travel I have made several trips that made me a little nervous. The recent trip to Yemen would be included in this category. It seemed like a good idea when it was first conceived. In this country where proselytization is illegal, we had decided that a group on bikes would help to deter any problems that would come along.

All we needed were a group of guys who could see the brilliance of the plan. We would ride 250 miles together. Along the way we would pray proclaiming the territory as the Lord’s. We would pray for anyone who wanted, and maybe give away a few New Testaments. As I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but as departure day approached I must admit to a little hesitation.

The Sunday before departure the church prayed for my son, Josh, and me. It seemed right. More than that, it seemed important. I began to be a little more at peace.

I soon learned I was not the only one who had some concern. The week after the church prayed, and the week prior to our departure, a family member of one of the team member’s contacted the State Department for their opinion of the journey. The State Department was not as exuberant as the church was on Sunday. They sent a letter back to those who had inquired stating in no uncertain terms that while they couldn’t prohibit the upcoming journey, they did strongly recommend against it. They were exhaustive in citing their reasons for this opinion. They told of civil wars, land mine’s, and pockets of terrorism. They explained that Americans were not infrequently the target of kidnapping plots. If that weren’t enough they explained that unruly traffic patterns made bicycling unsafe. I think I had heard all of this before, except about the traffic patterns. I suppose it was the official nature of the letter that was disconcerting. We decided to keep our plans and go as planned.

While in Yemen we experienced something quite different than what the State Department had described. We were confronted with cheers from people on the street and honks of encouragement from passing cars as we rode. They seemed most impressed with our youngest team member, Johnny, and myself. They kept asking how an "old man" could make such a trip. I admit to wondering the same thing at points. As we rode we prayed. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say the Spirit of God was strong! As we asked for permission to pray for people we were never, not once, denied. We prayed in Jesus’s name only to be confronted by smiles. We were invited into Mosques. We talked with Imams. At the end of our ride we were presented with a newspaper. In the second section on the front paper we found our picture with the caption “Team America.”

Was the State Department wrong? Were they engaged in some form of propaganda? I don’t think so. The reality is, all that they said was true. In fact, the day after we left two Americans were kidnapped. I am left to wonder where is the disconnect?

I think I have the answer. Listen good to this one. It could take us, the church, a long way. Jesus launched a kingdom that we are now subjects of. For those of us who are believers, this kingdom is our reality. We may be “in this world” but we are not “of it”. The implication of this is that we are no longer subject to it. We are His subjects and the rules and ways of the world do not bind us. As we act in obedience to our King the world’s kings have no ultimate dominion over us. I find this truth to be good news these days!

The implications of this are huge. I think it means we need to quit taking our marching orders from earthly kings and those who operate in fear. This frees us to take a word that will not return void anywhere in the world. We can even take it across the street.

Be blessed as you go knowing your King sits on the throne.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sleep Well

It has been said that the word of God will not return void. I think it was somebody important who said that. In fact, I believe it was God.

I find relief in this. It helps to define my role in the process of things without making me responsible for the results. It’s the kind of concept that allows you to sleep at night in India when outside your window you are confronted with the starkness of a lost and dying mass of people held tightly in the enemies grip. This is true for all of us as we encounter, and even oppose, environments or deeds of darkness. We do so as light. A light that dispels darkness by way of an infusion of the word of God. Not being held to man made or religious standards of success frees us to operate in our role and allows us to emerge victorious simply because we have engaged Him and joined Him in the process. The word of God, both written and living, will not return void. It will accomplish it’s purpose.

I was recently in the Middle East where our team rode bikes throughout the country. I found this strategy to be very disarming. It allowed us to move freely and pray for literally hundreds in that place in the name of Jesus. We prayed that their revelation of God would be full and complete. It also allowed us to physically tread on the land reclaiming it in prayer for the kingdom of God. We even felt like the Lord would allow us to strategically place the written word of God in key places along the way.

As the “old guy” on the trip, there was one day of riding that was particularly difficult for me. We rode along the coast of the Red Sea. They say it was beautiful but to be honest the temperatures of 113 degrees kept me from noticing. The prayer that day was among the most powerful I had ever experienced. (More on that in the next blog.)

I felt like I had heard from the Lord that we were supposed to interact with people in the Mosque and pray. Up to this point we had been prohibited from doing so. As we rode into the final town that day it was as if the prayer along the way had generated something. I know that's a bit vague but I don’t know how else to state the tenor of things at that moment.

We were offered a walking tour of the town. Even though every muscle in my body screamed NO, we readily accepted. One of the most prominent stops on the tour was to look upon the Grand Mosque. I was told that 6000 people go there weekly to hear the Imam’s teaching and pray facing Mecca. As we arrived we were invited to come inside. I’m not sure that this is normal to invite Western visitors into the mosque but we were happy to go.

They showed us the classes they were holding for children who were reciting parts of the Koran. They showed us the place from which the Imam spoke. They explained their customs of prayer and pointed out which way you were to face as you prayed. I found it all very interesting. Some of it was sad So often we take for granted the unhindered and free access we have into the very throne room of God.

As we were leaving, the Imam, who seemed warmed by our visit, came and told us he had a departing gift for us. He took us to a book case and presented us with a tour book of his country. A small gift but a grand gesture. With some fear and trembling and at the prodding of a team member I thought of the New Testaments we had brought and slowly I began to see that we also had a gift to offer.

I asked the Imam, “What books do you study here?” He answered, “We study the Koran” and he also mentioned a couple of the other books. I noticed he didn’t mention the Injil, which is the gospels in our New Testament. So, I asked, “How about the Injil, do you study it here as well?” He seemed almost sad as he responded, “No, we use to study it but we no longer have one.” I proceeded to tell him that we had a gift for him. We presented him with two New Testaments in Arabic. At first he refused saying it was too precious a gift to accept. I told him we didn’t speak Arabic so they must be for him and that he could study them and teach his people. He indicated that he would.

And, the word of God will not return void. It will accomplish His purposes. I slept good that night recognizing the team is a part of the process and God is responsible for the results. He is an amazing God!