Monday, May 30, 2016

Is Anger Your Treasure?

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It feels good to be angry.

It’s a rush of energy: the confidence that you are right, letting someone know your displeasure, and the momentary satisfaction that revenge provides.

It feels good, but we don’t stop to think about the cost. What we think in private and the way we look at the world when no one is watching affects the core of our being.

I remember holding a grudge for years. It felt good to unleash on the person in my mind in battles I always won, and it felt good to shun them in public for what they had done to me, but it was affecting me to the core. My curses affected me more than it did them – my anger led me to a great dissatisfaction with life and opened the door for more and more sin.

Jesus said that the eye is the lamp of the body, and if your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body is full of darkness. (Matthew 6:22-23).

In this context, if all you view is revenge and anger, and you’re the person who wants to give people what they deserve, it will cause your whole life to be full of darkness and in the end it will kill you. Jesus was betrayed by such a man – he was full of secret cursing and bitterness, and it ended up costing him his soul. Psalm 109 speaks of him in this way:

He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones!

What you treasure up in your heart will come out in your life. People like those in Psalm 109 can only hide their wickedness for so long before it destroys them. But it need not end that way for us. Jesus took the curse for all our cursing when He died on the cross. He paid for our sinful anger, and if we repent and turn to Him we will be saved from it!

Once we are saved, we can look to His example on the cross, He responded to cursing and bitterness by saying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

He forgave when they cursed. He returned their cursing for a blessing, and now He is forever blessed. If we follow His example and delight in blessing rather than cursing – in patience and longsuffering rather than anger, then we too will be blessed. After all, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Brothers and sisters, let us not be angry. Instead, let us return evil for good. In Jesus we were blessed in order to be a blessing to others –yes, even our enemies.

I resolve here not to cover myself in cursing any more. I resolve to speak what is good and true and loving in the example of my Lord, that I may know Him better.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Rescued from the Enemy’s Fortress

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In one of our locations in Central America, to say that the situation is difficult would be an understatement. The people are afraid, the murder rate is up, and gangs have taken the nation in fear, but just like always, when things are at their darkest, the light of Christ shines most brightly. These are the stories of some who were rescued from darkness this past December:

Military Ministry

Our friend the governor always sends soldiers to come and protect our teams when we serve in El Salvador, and it has become a natural thing to speak the gospel to the soldiers who have come to protect us. It's a beautiful exchange: they watch over our bodies and we watch over their souls.

I must commend the team I served with – no one had to tell them what to do. As soon as the soldiers arrived, they were speaking truth to them so that within a few days almost all of them had come to faith. In total, of the 11 soldiers who came to guard us, 5 came to faith.

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One of the soldiers seemed especially broken when we spoke to him, but he was quick to turn his life over to Christ. Later, he confided in us that he was in the gangs only seventeen months prior – doing “terrible things”. He escaped and returned to his family, joining the military some time later. He told us that, “I continued to do terrible things, but God brought you all here to preach the word of God to me.”

Many soldiers have come to faith over our trips, but this man was the first to obey the call to be baptized, giving his testimony in front of our group before entering the waters of the Pacific Ocean to publically declare his faith in Jesus. Please pray for him – his life is still dangerous from the gangs, and he doesn't have much in the way of encouragement right now.

Peace at Last

IMG_1309Our time in December always takes us to a local center of idolatry where people come and pour out their prayers and light candles to idols who can neither hear nor help them. This time, I was pacing the building looking for someone to speak to when I saw a group of our team members in deep conversation with a man who was pouring his heart out to them.

He had come into the building heartbroken and looking for hope, and we began to open the scriptures to him, telling him over and over that he needed to believe and be saved while he kept telling us the good works he needed to do to please God and be saved.

Yet he continued to show interest in the scriptures, so we continued expounding the truth to him until he said, “I feel that God is telling me to share this message with everyone.”

I was concerned for a moment that he was continuing to recite his need for good works for salvation but he continued to speak, “When I came in to this place, I was contemplating killing myself or doing something evil because I can’t find a job and I have no hope for my life. I was crying, but now I have peace. Now I know that all I must do is believe and be saved.

We took him out of the place of idolatry, because our time was nearly over, and we prayed with him. Someone on the team gave him a Spanish Bible and he clutched it tight, saying, “This will be my most prized and priceless possession. I know that you did not give me this; God gave me this gift.”

This, my friends, is a changed life. We left him, mightily encouraged that it was not us or our superior wisdom but the word and the power of God that had ultimately convinced him. This is the power of opening up the scriptures with someone – the word of God never returns empty, not even in a center of idolatry.

I remember what may have been the day of my conversion – I too was reading the scriptures when an incredible peace came over me, and my life has never been the same since.

The Power of Belief

What–or more precisely whom you believe changes everything. If you truly believe that your eternity rests on the work of Jesus Christ and turn to Him for your salvation, He will not leave you the same person.

One who has not had their life transformed by the work of Jesus does not truly believe. If we truly saw His agonizing death on the cross as our only way to eternity and believed that He was our resurrected Lord, our entire life would look completely different.

But it is impossible for anyone to believe in their own strength. God is the one who grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), God is the one who saves (Titus 3:5, Mark 10:26-27, Ephesians 2:8), God is the one who calls us to a holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9), and I am so grateful that I was saved by His grace.

Once I hated people, now I desire to see them full of the joy of the Lord.
Once the men we spoke to in December were doing terrible things and thinking about terrible things, now they have begun their new life of hope.
Once we were lost – now we are found.

I pray that if you are reading this, you are either encouraged by the news here and glorifying God, or that you will be challenged to trust in Jesus yourself and experience the true salvation that does not depend on our ability to be good. Being good and religious is exhausting, and it will never satisfy you, nor the wrath of God due for our sins.

Only the perfect life of Jesus and His death on the cross were sufficient to cover over our wretchedness and give us true peace. Only He can rescue us from Satan’s fortress and place us into the kingdom of light. To Him be all the glory for what He has done.

Grace and peace to you,
- Paul

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ministry in a Dry and Weary Land–July 2015

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Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

A Month Down South

IMG_8868This past July I served with about eighty other brothers and sisters in Christ as we preached the gospel, hosted a community soccer tournament, ran conferences for the youth, and ministered in some of the roughest areas of the country. God taught us all the amazing power of prayer as He worked amazing things and protected us time and time again.

Drought and Strife

Unfortunately for El Salvador, not only is the country experiencing a severe drought. We spoke with many farmers who had their entire crops dry up and die, leaving them waiting and hoping that they could plant again before the dry season. Food prices are going up in the impoverished nation at the same time that the violence is spiking. People in the country are concerned for their lives and the prospect of violence. One man we met even wears a mask to work and sent his family away because of the threats he’s received from gang members.

It’s a tragedy what is happening there, and it’s the result of the idolatry of the people. Empty religion and tradition has done nothing to change the hearts of the people, and you can see and hear the emptiness. Yet through all of this there is hope, because in their desperation people are waking up to their need for the Lord. I have seldom seen such openness when we’ve gone to preach the gospel.

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Open Doors

Near the beginning of the month, we were planning to minister outside a school after the students were let out. As we were trying to figure out how to accomplish this I started talking to two men who were standing in a pick up truck outside the school and explained what we wanted to do. “That will never work,” they said. “You have five minutes until the busses come and pick up all the students. Let’s go inside and talk to the teachers.”

They led us inside, and we explained what we desired to do. The teachers were initially hesitant, but somehow the Lord opened the door for us to actually go inside the school and present dramas and the gospel later on the same day. I was floored; God opened the door for us.

As we waited for our opportunity in the town square nearby, we spoke with a group of young men from an accounting school about the gospel and the hope in Christ. None of them had come into a relationship with Christ, but three of them expressed that they desired salvation by the end of our conversation. Right as we had to leave to minister inside the school, a leader from our church arrived and continued the conversation with the young men, answering their questions and leaving them his contact information. That’s God’s timing.

The ministry inside the school was so successful that the teachers asked us to come again later on in the trip. In fact, we were able to minister the gospel in 5 different schools from the mountains of Honduras to a massive public school in the nearest city that holds about 2,000 students.

The Next Generation

A few days before we arrived in Central America, a gang member – a youth from our area came to Christ. We immediately gave him a job helping with construction and members of the church came around him to begin discipling him and encouraging him in the faith. We got to speak to members of his family – all nonbelievers who were amazed by the change in him. They said, “We thought he would be dead because of what he is doing.” The testimony of this youth is showing his family the power of God for salvation.

By the end of the trip, another gang member attended our youth service and two members of our team were able to preach the gospel to him as well.

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In Honduras, I had the pleasure of working alongside a young man named Alex. At 15 years old, he goes with us up into the mountains to preach the gospel in the villages, but he was very shy about it. During one of our presentations in a village, I pulled him aside and told him, “Hey, we’re going to share the gospel with someone as soon as we get done with the program here.” He looked at me with wide eyes, “Ok.”

He seemed hesitant when we walked over to speak to the first group, but he willingly shared his testimony of everything God had done for him. By the time we got ready for a massive soccer tournament, he asked me if he could share his testimony in front of the crowd of hundreds that had gathered. With the amount of time we had to prepare, he didn’t have the chance to do so, but it was amazing to watch him grow in boldness over just a few days. Pray that he will grow in his faith and continue to be bold.

Finishing Well

With so many pastors and leaders falling into sin around the world and ruining their testimony, I’ve realized now more than ever how hard it will be to be pure and holy until the day Jesus comes for me. I am not perfect–I am, like anyone a footstep away from falling into terrible sin. I would love to tell you that I am strong, but the truth is, I am weak–I am just a vessel of God made of clay, though I hold His treasure inside. The scriptures warn us with this: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

May it be said of all of us that we fought the good fight, we finished the course, and we kept the faith. Pray that God would help me to finish my race well.

- Paul

Hope Across Generations

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On our last trip to Africa, we ended up arriving an entire day late due to problems with the aircraft, already a great start for our journey, so we ended up already missing a day of ministry, something I wasn’t too happy about, but God’s plans are always higher than ours.

If you remember, earlier this year, we visited the chief of a village who subsequently came to faith as we preached the gospel. He died a month later, leaving the village without leadership. As providence would have it, the first of the only two places we were able to minister was the very village where this chief used to live.

When we arrived, it was strange being there knowing we wouldn’t see our friend there – I miss him. But we were encouraged that a sizeable crowd came out, among whom was a young man who had brought his Bible out. I figured that he was one of the church members, but after our Bible study and testimony time, he told us through a translator he was very happy in Islam and did not want to become a Christian.

Our translator also told me that he was the chief’s son. That probably explained why he stood out to me so much. Filled with compassion, we began speaking to him, but it wasn’t until the part where we mentioned Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin was death and the gift of God was eternal life that he opened the Bible to read that for himself.

He seemed moved by this word, and we told him about the faith and hope his father had that gave him eternal life, and from that point on he was riveted in the conversation. Near the end of our dialog, we asked him if a dead man could bring him back to life. 

We told him that no matter their message or lifestyle, every founder of every other religion is currently dead and in the ground, but even Muslims believe that Jesus Christ lives to this day and is at the right hand of God. “Who then is able to save?” we asked him.

Our local ministers continued the conversation from there, and at the end the man announced that he was ready to come to Christ. Praise God for the hope he now shares with his father.

Afterward, we told him that things about his life would need to change, and deep in thought, he asked us if he should quit his job as a hunter now that he was a Christian. That’s a man who is considering the cost.

We told him, no, he didn’t need to quit his job, but that God has called him to live a holy life, even at work. We prayed for him and left encouraged - if God just sent us there for that one man, then the whole trip was worth it. What price can you put on a single human soul?

Like father, like son – two generations have come from darkness to light. But this hope is not limited to them. Jesus is not just another dead religious figure, He is our living hope. If I would trust anyone with my life, it would be the One who beat death.

According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
1 Peter 1:3

Friday, August 21, 2015

How should we respond when Christians fall?

FullSizeRender (1)“Hypocrite! Christians are all hypocrites!”

We hear the same things every time someone who claims the name of Christ falls into sin. How do we respond to the accusations? How do we respond as the world gloats?

Don’t be so quick to dismiss the claims. Are we really hypocrites? The evidence doesn’t lie – many who claim the faith and fall are often the most outspoken among us all, so we should respond to the accusations with great humility.

The truth is that we are ALL hypocrites. Jesus told us not to judge lest we be judged, yet people – Christians and non-Christians alike come out in judgment. The very people who say “don’t judge me” one moment turn and gossip in judgment on someone the next. We all have fallen short of even our own standards, let alone God’s standards.

How many times have we said, “People should act like this,” and then turn around and do the very same thing we just said people shouldn’t do? How many drivers have I been angry with in one moment, then catch myself doing the exact same thing the next?

As a follower of Jesus, I am frequently tempted to hide my struggles because I believe that if people knew who I really was and all my struggles they would never come to the faith, but the truth is that I still struggle with anger, lust, and pride on a daily basis – my thoughts are not always pure, I don’t have everything together and sometimes, yes, I am a hypocrite.

Maybe if we told others the truth – the truth that we are not good, maybe more of them would believe us when we talk to them about God’s grace. We are not saved because we look good; we are saved because Jesus is good. I’m not saying we don’t change when we come to Christ, but what I am saying is that we need to be honest and open and apologize when we do fail. The world doesn’t need another hypocrite – the world needs the truth in love. We need to come into the light and expose our works so that everyone will know that God is good, and we are not.

Christian, it is not our job to hide our sins – that’s what the world does. Jesus said in John 3:20,21 - “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

IMG_9354So I’m coming into the light; everyone needs to know that I was a wretched sinner who was saved by the grace of God. Christianity isn’t about my goodness, it’s about God’s goodness. If God can transform even the life of someone so wicked as me, He can save anyone. I’m not saved by my good works, but by the work of Christ.

And if it’s true that we all are hypocrites – that we all need God’s grace and mercy, then remember that mercy triumphs over judgment. We need to be merciful when people fall. We must not be known for eating our wounded but for our love even when someone stumbles publically. Don’t join the chorus of mockers, be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful. Look to the cross – Jesus loves sinners enough to die for them, and He told us to follow in His example. Love sinners, even fallen ones.

Knowing our weakness and knowing God’s kindness, it’s about time that we started telling people the truth about ourselves and the truth about God – that He loves sinners like us. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, so be humble and gentle in the face of accusation, and let’s come into the light and pray – pray that we too do not fall into temptation. Pray for the families of the fallen, and yes, even pray for those who have stumbled, that they may be restored.

Sincerely, the least of those loved by God,
- Paul

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Christian Love Without Hypocrisy

How should we respond to the Supreme Court ruling as Christians?

First, to any who would call themselves homosexual, I know and love people who identify with your life, and I’ve heard their struggles and felt their pain. Anyone with a heart would weep at the treatment many of you have received at the hands of your fathers, families, strangers and even friends. I know that Jesus gave Himself for all kinds of people, straight and gay, and the doors of heaven are wide open to all who would turn and believe in Him no matter what they’ve done. I mean, let’s be honest, if God saved me – a wretched, selfish, hateful legalist, then He can certainly save you, and just because my beliefs cannot let me condone your lifestyle, that does not mean I would not be up at 3:00 AM if you needed anything, nor does it mean I believe that I am a better person than you; I’m a sinner desperately in need of God’s grace just like everyone else.

Second, to my brothers who are upset about this: be careful, be very careful, because God has not called us to build an American theocracy but to build His kingdom – a kingdom made of people whom He loves. You may be able to blast your way through an argument but you are then forgetting the command to show perfect courtesy to all people and to speak evil of no one (Titus 3:2). How do you desire God to treat you when you’ve been faithless and when you have dishonored Him? Wrath or mercy? It is not God’s wrath, but His kindness that leads us to repentance and we should desire mercy more than sacrifice. If what we are saying is not in love, we gain nothing, so please pray for people instead of writing scathing words that will do nothing but drive men away from the Kingdom of God.

Third, and most importantly – to those who call on the name of Jesus and yet are condoning homosexual marriage. I have to ask what you do with the 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 passage, which states very clearly that those who practice homosexuality as a lifestyle will not enter the Kingdom of God. You say that “love wins” but how can you love what God speaks so clearly against? My flesh would love to mince words here, but God calls it an abomination. Did He suddenly change His mind? God says He doesn’t change, and that means if He felt it was an abomination back then, He feels the same way today. The New Testament reaffirms the same sentiments about homosexual practice (Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:10-11, Jude 7), so we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that this law was merely a portion of the ceremonial or cultural law of ancient Israel.

So is it loving for you to see someone walking into a minefield and to say nothing? Or worse yet, to tell them to continue onward? You have made the mistake of being the mouthpiece for the serpent. You have asked the deceiver’s question, “Did God really say…?” when God has made Himself clear. You have told people, “You will not surely die” when the scriptures make it clear that they are marching toward destruction. This is neither accepting nor loving; you are ensuring that your hearers are not accepted – that they never enter the Kingdom of God. Please do not fall into this error – we are called to live not as the culture dictates, but to speak the truth in love. We are called to be counter-cultural, which means that some of our beliefs will always be unpopular, whether we speak out to forgive our enemies or to love untouchables, or whether we speak against slavery, gladiatorial fights, abortion, gossip, or homosexuality. If you have fallen into sin in this area, God is faithful and just to forgive – repent and speak what is true, and do it in love.

FullSizeRenderUnderstand that I did not pen this because I think I’m better than anyone (for I was a terrible sinner when God called me), nor is it because I enjoy judging anyone – that’s infinitely above my pay grade to do so. Rather, it is because I believe what the scriptures say: that we already stand judged in our sins, all of us, but Jesus died to rescue us from every sin: from lying and from homosexuality, from gossip and even from murder. So when one comes to faith, he is no longer a liar or a homosexual, but a blood bought Christian who needs nothing else to identify himself with besides Jesus. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:19

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Can Jesus Set Me Free?

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A Tale of Two Chiefs

Since my second trip to Africa, we have been following up with two chiefs of two distant villages, both very old, and both Muslim leaders in their separate communities. With both chiefs, we befriended them and shared the gospel with them, and both listened initially, inviting us to share more of the gospel with their village.

Then the division happened. One of the chiefs, “Ramen”, who had initially invited us to build a church structure then closed off his village to our church, kicking us out from land he’d given us after we’d built a water well there. He still accepted our visits, but we heard darker and darker stories about him. First of all, he and the village elders kicked out the only believer in the village who was still attending church. Then, as he felt himself growing more and more sick, he turned increasingly to black magic and sorcery to keep himself alive, causing great harm to his family and those around him.

The other chief, “Elijah”, continued to welcome us to his village, repeatedly encouraging his people to attend the church services and listening intently as we preached the word of God. He seemed confused at first, stating that both Mohammad and Jesus could save him, but as we went along, he became more and more solid in his understanding until last January (2014) where we were certain he had trusted Jesus completely with his life. He too was sick, but the situation in his village was more peaceful. Yet the story wasn’t done…

Near the end of 2014, we received news that Ramen had died apart from Christ. He’d relied on his own powers to keep him alive, but there is no magic, no money, and no ransom that can keep you from the grave, and he ended up doing a great amount of damage in doing so, to the point where the people around him were afraid of him. We also received word that Elijah was ill and death was looming; he might not be alive the next time we visited. At the time I received that news, I was on a break from the ministry, but I purposed in my heart that if at all possible, I wanted to return to see Elijah one last time before he died.

So in January when we arrived, my first question to the ministers there was how Chief Elijah was and how he was doing in his faith. They looked at me and told me, “He is alive, but he is confused.”

“Confused?” I asked.

“He thinks he needs to hold on to the gods of Africa to protect him in addition to Jesus, and he is afraid.”

Crestfallen and saddened by the news, I asked further, wondering if they were mistaken. But as they explained his situation, I came to the sobering conclusion that the chief had only accepted the Lord as yet another protection on him, and he was concerned that if he left behind the religion of his fathers, the gods would come after him “like the mafia”, as our African brothers put it.

We set to work praying for him, and began urgently trying to get in contact with someone who could take us back to the chief’s house in the nearby city where he had taken up residence in his illness.

IMG_2778Visitation

Prayer pays off.

We were staying at the orphanage when we finally received word that we would get a chance to visit with him. I began to prepare what I would say to him, knowing that this would likely be the last time I would see him on this earth.

We passed through the city landscape on our way to the chief’s home, a strange, barren, and dusty part of the city without a single tree. We arrived underneath the canopy outside the chief’s house, and his wife bowed low to greet us, calling for her husband.

I got up to meet him as he walked down the hallway toward us. He didn’t smile – he looked like he was distracted.

I reached out to grab his extended hand in greeting, and the moment our hands touched, it seemed like all his life and strength were gone. At that point, I knew he didn’t have long. Short of a miracle, this was our last visit with him.

He sat down, clearly in pain, hardly able to keep himself upright. All of my plans to speak were suddenly gone – I was expecting a vibrant old man who sometimes complained of his bad health, but he was a shadow of his former self, barely present.

Knowing our time was short, we set to work, telling him of his need to come to Christ – of Christ’s sovereign rule over all and his power to protect over any African god or spirit that threatened. We encouraged him to trust in the Lord alone for his salvation. We also told him that we could not guarantee his physical protection, but promised that if he believed, Jesus would indeed raise him up from the dead.

The chief told us he wanted to get his family together to discuss the decision before he did anything, but we reminded him that this decision was between him and God alone, and that he didn’t have the promise of another day, encouraging him to turn to the Lord.

Free At Last

And at the end of the conversation, we sat in silence until he asked, “Can Jesus set me free from the oath my family made to the gods of Africa?”

This, my friends, is the question. Can Jesus set me free from my past? Does Jesus have the power to erase my past and to break the hold of every curse on me? All of us desperately need this hope, because all of us have black pages in our books.

I was overjoyed by his question. Yes – yes indeed Jesus can set you free, we told him. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed, free from every pact and bondage.

The chief thought for a moment, then said, “I have decided to become a Christian.”

Knowing that baptism is a sticking point, especially for those who are coming from a Muslim background, we pressed in, “Are you willing to be baptized then?”

He told us yes, he was willing to be baptized, and we were satisfied that he had truly crossed the line, so we closed out our conversation with joy. We brought out the pictures from our last visit with him, and his face broke into a smile for the first time since we’d arrived. It was as though dark clouds had broken, leaving a perfect day in their wake.

Knowing we only had a short time since we were leaving to minister in yet another dark place, we left him. We were almost back to the road when his wife came running after us as fast as her aging body would allow and told us to come back, because the chief wanted us to meet someone.

When we arrived back, another man stood by the place where the chief sat. He said, “I will translate for my father.”

The chief spoke again, and the man said, “My father would like you to know that he has decided to become a Christian.”

The chief really wanted us to know he’d become a Christian, apparently. I asked the chief’s son what he thought of this turn of events, wondering if he too was a Muslim.

The man smiled and said, “Praise the Lord! I too am a Christian.” He told us he was overjoyed by the news.

I would have liked to have stayed and spoken with him more, but as it seems far too often in missions, you don’t get a chance to enjoy the moment – we took our leave and departed quickly, leaving the chief and his son as we prepared to bring the gospel to a new village we had never visited before. My head was spinning with joy and apprehension as to what the new ministry would bring, and it wasn’t until later that I was able to fully appreciate what had happened.

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Homecoming

IMG_0752A month later, we received word that Chief Elijah had gone home to be with the Lord. His body may be gone, but his spirit is more alive now than it will ever be. And just as Jesus promised, one day he will rise again – free from his tortured old body, free from any pact made with the powers of darkness, and free to praise his King.

Yet though we are joyful, please pray for his wife and the family he left behind.

I miss him already; he was like a grandfather to me. I will be in Africa soon, and I regret that I will not see his smiling face this time, but I look forward to the day when we meet again, and on that day, we won’t need a translator.

Know that no matter what you have done, no matter what you face, no matter what pact you have made with yourself, anyone, or anything – there is nothing that can prevent you from being set free, because as Jesus says in John 10:18, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Look to the Son; believe and be saved.

Grace to you,
- Paul