In our first village meeting this morning, the people are all still stirring and waking. The family that we visit with is very old, just a lady in her 80’s. Some of her neighbors come over too, and they all sit and listen as we share about Jesus and what He has done in our communities. They slowly chew on their beetle nut and nod their heads. Then the team asks the owner of the home to try and move her arm. She lifts it up and praises God with it. Everyone shouts for joy. I ask Brian, “What’s going on?”, and he tells me, “the left side of her body has been paralyzed for years, and she hasn’t moved her left arm in three years. Just last week one of the members came by her house and prayed for her. Now she can use her left side of her body, including her left arm.” She lives right across from a small “convenient store”, which is actually someone’s house where they purchase a lot of small items and then sell them to those who pass by.
Everybody there is staring at me, this blonde-haired foreigner out in the middle of nowhere. As we break out into worship, one guy makes his way over to see what’s going on. He comes into the perimeter of the house and takes his boots of to come sit down. I notice him because he is covered in some sort of black soot from head to toe. Even his face is coated black. I can’t tell if it’s from working with ashes in the field or from the oil under a car.
I go to ask Brian if he will translate something for me to share with this man, and he says yes. But then the man walks away, so we follow him to another house. We approach the group of people and Brian begins to share how Jesus can remove our karma and become our merit. Brian then shares more about the love of God. The man sits and listens, as well as the other six people he is with. As Brian is talking, I begin to hear that this man has pain in his back, so I ask Brian to ask this man if he has any pain. He says, “Yes, I have lots of pain in my back.” We ask if we can pray for him, but he is so afraid! He says, “No, please don’t!” We then explain to him “we are not here because we want anything from you. We are here to bless you.”
You see, the monks here require you to pay them if they are going to bless you or do anything special for you, and they charge quite a hefty price. He still doesn’t believe that we would do it for free because this is impossible in his mind. The ladies around us who are Buddhist, but are familiar with us sharing the gospel, then convince him that it is ok that we pray for him and that we really don’t expect or want any of his money! The ladies finally convince him, and they are so interested in what is going on that they actually begin to take part in our conversation. Their hearts are moved by the love, kindness and mercy of Jesus. We pray for him and he says that he feels of an icy-hot sensation all over his back, like he the area is covered in a medicine and every ounce of pain is completely gone! He jumps up in complete amazement, and then we re-explain the Gospel to him and ask him if he believes and wants to follow Jesus. “Of course,” he says. Right there we pray with him to commit his life to Jesus. Then we baptize him, using bottles of water, in front of every person under that canopy. One of the ladies comes and asks to be baptized with him. We baptize both of them while singing worship songs to Jesus. The people in that part of the village are amazed, the presence and peace of God settles on them. We break out in words of knowledge and prayer for them. There is a great celebration and joy on the face of everyone. They all want to know, “what must we do now!? WPle still want to pay you back for this,” but we tell them, “the only thing for you to do now is to go and tell everyone that you know all the things that Jesus has done for you.” Out they go, and on we go to another village.
After we left that village, I felt the Lord showing me a new vision for the armor of God in Ephesians 6. We often put on this armor with the idea of using it in defense of the enemy and his attacks. This time though, I see the armor as something we are putting on as we run forward, attacking and destroying the powers and forces of darkness. You see, we are the aggressors, not Satan, and he is rendered completely powerless against the Spirit of God living inside of us. This is not a game of sitting around and defending ourselves. If we consume our lives, thoughts, schedules, and dreams with the purpose of obeying Jesus and advancing His kingdom, then we will begin to understand what it truly means to be free, full of life, and living with purpose. I don’t have to try and not sin, or struggle with silly little temptations not to become offended or angry when somebody does me wrong because I am instead thinking about how much Jesus loves that person from the moment I see them. Then when the sin in them comes out, I am not surprised, but instead ready for battle against the things stopping them from experiencing a restored life with Jesus. He is always the answer for every problem. Let’s get on the offensive and stop being the reason that people don’t want to follow, love or put their faith and hope in Jesus. Let’s instead be the reason that they do.