This summer several teams, alongside ATC, were able to reach into an unreached people group. In the southern mountains of Costa Rica, which borders Panama, there resides not only thousands of acres of beautiful virgin rainforest, but an unreached people group as well, the Guaymi Indians.
I left our facility with a team in tow to visit and do some ministry with this unreached indigenous group. We decided we would take teams to this region and finish the construction needed on a one-room-school-house. We thought this would allow us to cultivate relationship with these people so that we could share Jesus with them.
The drive from our facility, which operated this summer as a missions base, to the mountains was about two hours. Just before the road ended we stopped at a small convenience type store in order to get last minute supplies. With some food and equipment in hand we came to the end of the road. We parked the 4 wheel drive vehicles and began walking into the mountains on foot.
The path was difficult. It gradually grew steeper. It also became increasingly narrow. The difficulty was not only in the grade and distance traveled, but more so in the shin deep mud that had to be negotiated. In any event, after a couple hour trek we found ourselves in the middle of a small village that serves as a gateway to these 3000 people.
As dinner time rolled around it was time for me to use my vast missions experience and expertise to build a fire so we could cook dinner. This can be difficult when the wood is wet and you’ve never earned your eagle scout badge. I struggled with this and was about to give up when relief came to my tired and hungry body.
From higher up the mountain came one of the locals. He was upright and official looking as he approached us carrying something I could not initially see. As he reached me I could see he had brought burning pieces of wood coals to help me start my fire. My relief was soon followed by one of the best spaghetti dinners I have ever eaten.
This was their custom; the offering of coals to help travelers start their fires. You can hardly survive in that place without fire. This was also a custom during the days when Jesus walked the earth. Paul makes reference to on one occasion and in fact, it is mentioned in the Old Testament.
Paul said, “If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.” I am thinking that we have at times misconstrued this passage. We've twisted it with the thought that if we are kind to our enemies it will cause them pain and suffering and bring them to repentance. Perhaps it has been a way for us to focus on the speck in our brother’s eye rather than the log in our own; taking pride in our good deeds even towards our enemies, maybe relishing in the thought that they may be squirming with uncomfortableness at our kindness towards them.
The meaning of this passage is displayed by the Guaymi Indians. Paul was saying that when we feed and clothe our enemy we bless him. He is saying feed your enemies; give them drink; tend to their needs. It will be a shower of blessing like coals on a cold wet night in the rainforest of Costa Rica when you are tired, weary, and hungry. The call is simply to bless, giving your enemy what he needs, not only to survive but also, to grow and flourish.
I am thinking there are a lot of enemies out there these days. I am sensing the call to employ kingdom strategies where they are concerned. Political strategies will bring a certain result, but maybe kingdom strategies will produce kingdom results.