Thursday (the 4th official ministry day) came way to soon. When Thursday hits on a Global Ventures trip, it is always bitter sweet. You know that you only have two ministry days left and if you blink, you’re apt to miss them. Trust me – I have missed a lot. That however, is another blog for another day…
There Is No One To Go…
One of our final ministry locations was what we call a “make it happen” site. Global Ventures coined this phrase years ago to describe times in our team schedule where there is not a set school that has been scheduled. During these times, as team leaders we try and find a location within the area, where we can simply break out our team’s portable speaker and microphones and share the Gospel with as many people as we can gather. Often times this will happen in a busy market or crowded street corner. In the villages in Takeo, there just simply weren’t many places where multiple people gathered, so we found our teams doing more of house-to-house evangelism.
That afternoon, my team and I, found ourselves ministering to a man who had not had the opportunity to receive Jesus. I wish I could tell you his name, but I’ll be brutally honest… I am not as good with names as I would like, and sometimes, Asian names are the hardest for me to pronounce correctly – let alone remember. I’m working on it though.
Moving along… So my team and I shared the simple Gospel story with him and he was quick to receive. The fact that this encounter happened was not at all surprising to me. I have had many similar encounters around the world. What was surprising, were the words he shared with us. “There is no one to take the story of Jesus to my village.” Right away, he was concerned about others getting to hear. Can you imagine? His recreated spirit knew that what he was receiving others needed as well.
(Above are pictures of my team and I, ministering to that precious man. Photos courtesy of my friend and team member, Courtney Canfield )
A Great Famine.
I’m reminded of the story in 2nd Kings, chapter 7, one that my mentor, Ms. Martine Smithwick, has shared with me many times. She shares it much better than I will, but read on – it’s worth your time. 😉
There are 4 lepers at the city gate – these were outcasts, people who were looked down upon and literally had lost everything. Theirs’ was a bad situation on a “good day”. The fact that there also happened to be an intense famine happening in the land didn’t help matters.
Lets talk famine for a moment: If you go back a little bit and read in chapter 6, you can get a better idea of just how bad things really were.
In verse 24, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his army and marched upon and laid siege to Samaria. This siege lasted a really long time and the famine that occurred as a result, was unimaginable in comparison to anything I have ever experienced in my 31 years on earth. The famine was so terrible, that people were eating each other’s children.
2 Kings 6:26-29
New International Version
26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!” 27 The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
Can you imagine being in a position where food was so scarce and things were so bad, that you would even contemplate eating another human being, much less your own child? I don’t know about you, but I can’t begin to understand what they were going through. What I can tell though, is that things were bad. Not “I don’t have enough money to get my iced cappuccino and so I’ll have to suffer without, until my next paycheck” bad. Not even, “I’m out of groceries and will have to live off the microwave popcorn that has been sitting in my pantry for 3 years” bad. This was “I’m going to die if I don’t eat…” I cringe just thinking about it.
Back to the Lepers. If you think that women eating each other’s kids was bad, imagine suffering like that AND having a skin eating disease that literally cut you off from society and would inevitably kill you. That is a bad day, for sure. These guys literally had nothing to lose.
2 Kings 7:3-9
New International Version
3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
If they go into the city where the famine is, they will die. If they stay outside the city gate, they will die. If the go into the enemy camp and surrender, there is a 50/50 chance they may be killed, but maybe the enemy will show them mercy and allow them to live. Anyway you slice it, these guys are probably going to die – so what have they got to lose? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If the enemy kills them, they will be no worse off than if they had stayed right where they were.
Let’s read on a bit further in verses 5-7…
5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
God had opened a door and their enemy was scattered, abandoning their camp and all their valued possessions.
8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.
After a terrible famine, these men found themselves alone in the enemy’s camp surrounded by food, lots of food. Probably more food than they or anyone in their city had seen in quite some time. So they ate. And drank and enjoyed the goodness in what they had found. And it was good. All of it. So good, that they took things and hid them, so they would have more for later… Then they came back and took more things to hide.
It wasn’t long though, before their conscience got the best of them. Even though they were enjoying the finer things life had to offer (many of which they had not had for a really long time) they couldn’t help but remember the people in Samaria who were still suffering from the famine, hopeless and dying.
9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
They themselves had once again found hope. And it would have been easy to keep it to themselves, but they knew the people of Samaria needed what they had found.
***The same was true of the man that we ministered to in Cambodia. He could have received salvation and the hope of Jesus Christ and been content to have God’s blessings in his own life but right away, he began to think about the rest of his village, people who didn’t have the Gospel, people who hadn’t heard the good news. He had found what his heart was searching for and even if he didn’t realize the fullness of what was happening, he knew that his village needed this message too.
What if every Christian felt the same way? What if our biggest concern was not in what we had received, but in what others had not?
One of my favorite quotes is from Oswald J. Smith.
“No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” — Oswald J. Smith
This encounter with a stranger in Cambodia only served to remind me of just how important sharing the good news with people truly is. In that moment, I didn’t have all of the answers and I did all that I knew to do. I encouraged him that he had now received the good news of Jesus and that he could go back and share with his village. We also connected him with the church we have been working in the area, in hopes that they could help him in getting the Gospel to his people. I encourage you – please, pray for this man. Pray for his village. Pray for the countless more villages out there that have yet to hear the Good News.
It has been very interesting, but my time in Asia has also opened my eyes to how important it is to continue to bring the good news to those at home, those around me each and every day. But more on that topic later. For now, I am thankful for all that God has been doing and honored to be a part.
IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – EXPLORATION & CHANCE ENCOUNTERS PART 2 – MINISTRY MOVEMENTS & MIGHTY MEN, PART 3 – OF SKIRTS & SALVATION, OR PART 4 – MIRACLES & MEMORIES, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!
For more info, check out Global Ventures.