Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Trust Your Purpose

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

His name was Scott, and he was doing God stuff in Africa.  In my office there is a picture.  It shows a group of people under a tree, and it is very apparent that we are not in Kansas anymore.  There is a lady dressed in African attire with her hand on the head of an African man. There are four African folks sitting and watching.  Next to the man are two men…myself and a man much my junior, Scott.  And indeed, he was there doing God stuff.  In fact, that is why we were under the tree.

You see, under the tree was a man who said he was possessed by a demon and, needed, wanted, our help.  So, we laid hands upon the man asking Creator God, the One that is not bound by time, space or borders, to intervene in this man’s life.  Soon, our time was finished. The man was at peace, the other Africans probably mystified by it all and we, the three from another time and place, were grateful for the opportunity to represent God in this hard place called Mali.

So exactly how did two American men so different in starting points, backgrounds, and generations end up under a tree in Africa?  Well, it was a God thing.  My wife Judy and I have led teams to Africa for years and that’s why we were there.  Scott, the younger man, had decided to give up a chunk of his life and go live in Africa to share Jesus with the people there. For some reason, we just hit it off.  The common denominator was Jesus and that was enough.  Our time together was marked by wandering the various villages where we would visit and tell stories from the Bible to people who had never heard them before.  It was profitable…both for them and for us.

Soon, too soon, our time on African soil came to an end and it was time to leave.  We talked about another time…perhaps next year.  Time came and went and before we knew it…it was next year.  That year we were going to do several things, but one thing was new…we were going to do an eye clinic.  We would have an eye doctor with us and with a few incredible tools we could test eyes and give away glasses.  I took the training to use one of the devices and agreed to work in the eye clinic.  And off we went to Africa.

When we arrived, there was my friend Scott.  He was excited to see me and was looking forward to wandering the villages and telling Jesus stories with me.  I told him that I would be working in the clinic and watched as disappointment filled his eyes. Over the next few days we did clinics and once or twice Scott stopped in to see if I could get away to wander. I told him I couldn’t since I was one of just a few that knew how use the machine.  Finally, on our last day of the trip I did manage to sneak away, and we wandered for a few hours, telling stories.  And that is when I got it.  I had missed an opportunity to use my calling, my purpose, my giftedness.  I wasn’t called to check eyes…I was called to wander…and tell stories…of Him. It was a powerful lesson for me.

I still wonder how I missed it that year in Africa and the picture in my office reminds me to be careful not to miss it again. Oh, and that is not only true in Africa…it is true here in my hometown.  God made each of us and in His wisdom, He gifts us to make a difference.  That is true for people who believe…and people who don’t.  All of us are created to make a difference and that is what we need to do.  I have found and know that becomes much more powerful when we ask God to come into our lives in a personal and real way…through His Son Jesus.

Someone gave me a small, white plaque that now sits on my desk.  It has three words on it, “Trust your purpose.”  That too is a reminder for me to be sure and seek and do what God has created for me.  Sometimes that looks like wandering and telling stories, but sometimes it is something as simple as being kind or giving someone a break in traffic.  We need to find our purpose and then trust that purpose…do what God on purpose created us to do.  It says in His Book that we are a masterpiece created by Him and for Him to do the things He planned for us. Trust me, that will make you get out of bed in the morning!

So today, this day, trust your purpose.  If God is your Father, trust Him to lead you as you wander today.  Not your Father?  Well, He would love to fix that.  Just ask.  And then you can have the confident assurance that He will lead you into some adventures that are bigger and better than you can imagine.  Trust me…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in missions, Uncategorized

I Can’t Hear You

“But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Acts 3:6 (CSB)

I can’t hear you.  A friend and I were standing on the shores of an island in Lake Victoria, Uganda, East Africa.  He was telling a Jesus story to a man and trying to determine if he knew Jesus.  While he was sharing another man walked up and began to listen.  At the end of the story, we asked a couple of questions.  The first man indicated that he knew this Jesus.  The other did not.  And he couldn’t hear.

Let me explain.  It wasn’t that he had a hearing problem.  His ears were working quite well.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t understand.  Our friend understood English and when we hit a bump our translator would jump in and help out.  But he couldn’t hear.  Then he explained the problem.  He said something like, “I can’t hear about this Jesus because my stomach is so hungry.”

Now hunger is not usually a big issue in Uganda.  While the food may not be the best nutritionally it is usually sufficient in quantity.  Our friend was one of the exceptions.  For whatever reason he hadn’t eaten that day or maybe the day before.  The growling of his stomach was blocking his heart from hearing the message.  We tried to explain that while we may hunger here, God had a place in heaven where no one would be hungry. I decided to tell him another story from the Bible.

I told him the story of Peter and John entering the temple.  You can read it in Acts 3:1-10. It goes something like this. There was a crippled man there who made a living begging.  When he saw Peter and John he thought they could help.  He looked up expectedly and perhaps even lifted his hand to receive a coin or two.  While his hand remained empty he got something more than a coin.  Peter said, “We don’t have silver or gold but what we do have we will give you.  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and walk.”

As Peter reached his hand down and the man reached up, his ankles received healing strength and he stood and walked into the temple.  I smugly smiled my preacher smile.  The perfect story.  The perfect truth. Eternal is better than temporary. Surely my friends would see it and everyone would go their way happy.  Only it didn’t happen.

I asked him “So what is better a few coins now or something that can change your life forever?”  I, of course, expected him to agree that the gift of eternal life is certainly more and better than a few coins or a quick meal.  His answer caught me totally off guard. He replied, “A few coins or some food.”  What?  I couldn’t believe what he was saying.  Surely he understood.  Surely I had made the story clear.

Then he said it.  “Heaven is good but I am hungry now. I need food now.”  Well, sadly, he wandered off.  Still hungry.  Still lost. My friend continued to share with the first man but my heart was heavy and my mind on the other man.  Suddenly, I saw him again standing a few yards away. It was then I heard the Whisperer whisper.  It was short and simple.  “Give him food” the Whisperer said.  I had totally forgotten that in my backpack I had some tuna, chips, crackers for my own lunch.  I dug several items from my bag, as did my friend.

I walked over to the man and said, “This isn’t much but I hope it will quieten your stomach so you can hear Jesus.” He quickly took the food and left. There’s no bow on the package, no happily ever after ending, no prayer to receive Jesus.  But I know two things. I know he knew we cared and I know he heard the truth and this time that had to be enough.  Maybe the seed would sprout later…only eternity will tell.

I learned a couple of things that day.  I learned that sometimes before we can share the Good News of the Gospel with a person we need to touch them in a real tangible way.  A casual God bless you and a pat on the back doesn’t do much for an anxious soul or a hungry stomach.  We must talk Jesus, we must share Jesus but we must be Jesus.  Someone said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In these crazy, troubling times people need more than a sermon—they need to know we care.  How do we do that?  That’s the second thing I learned.  We have to listen for the Whisperer.  We need to be sensitive to His gentle nudges. We have to still our own souls and hearts if we are to hear His gentle voice. These days call for new ways…different ways. So as you walk about life, keep your eyes open, your heart still and watch in wonder at what God can do through you.  You don’t have to be in Africa to be on mission.  That can happen, must happen right here, right now.  And in these days of fear and frustration people are more ready to hear about God than ever before.  What a privilege to be entrusted with God’s work.  Up for the challenge?  God believes so.  Remember, He’s really big on you.  So rest in Him.  He’s got this.