THIS IS WORTH THE WHOLE READ!
Normally I am writing to you "from" the Amazon and reflecting on something that the Lord has done there or in my life while there. Today I come to you with my thoughts reflecting "on" the Amazon and the people I see clearly in my mind who live there.
Last night I watched Oprah's special about the school she built in Africa for the girls. I watched her offer her wealth and time to those girls in order that South Africa would be changed one day because of the education the girls would receive. I couldn't help but compare our ministry with the work she is doing. Mark and I are giving everything we have so that Barcelos and the villages surrounding it will also be changed one day. We give all of our resources (and yours!) to build churches and Sunday School rooms for our people to have a place to meet as well. We give clothes, glasses and food away to help those who are struggling and in need of "physical" help. Instead of Sydney Poiter or Mary J. Blige or Mariah Carey coming to see our work, we have youth groups and preachers from the States coming to help every now and then. The correlations are there, but there is ONE remarkable and distinctive difference. JESUS CHRIST and the value of what we do is not temporal, it is ETERNAL. It will not effect political change, but spiritual change.
I love my girls that I work with in Barcelos and the villages. I sense a great personal joy when they run up to me and tell me I am like their mama and how much they love me. I will cry the next time I desembark from the boat in our town and see the people from our church lined up waiting for our family with open arms and sometimes toothless smiles. I have seen some of these families through the greatest tragedies and joys of their lives. We are forever bound by the blood of Christ now that many of them have accepted Him as their Saviour.
Oprah said her whole life was leading up to this moment of opening her leadership academy for those girls. She said her very essence was defined by what she sees in these girls. Oprah has millions of dollars and influence to effect change here in the world and with the South African girls. I have no doubt she will see many results and it is because she cares and is passionate about her heritage. My view of that is this: What is wrong with Christians that we don't care enough to effect eternal change in the world? Our heritage is that of the ONE who came and loved us and died for us and took the sting of death away from us! Eddie Goddard preached here at my home church this week and he said our problem is we just don't care. Are we going to sit by and let Oprah and her false beliefs be more wide spread than the TRUTH that Jesus Saves and can deliver ALL men from their sins and give them Peace and a new life?
I tell you what, the fire in my heart to go back to the field in a few months burns strong. Sure I remember the flies that constantly sit on my food and the heat that burns my back when I walk down the street. I remember the dogs that lay dying from mange and the buzzards keeping watch for their meal. I remember the power outages, no water, no dryer, no meat. I remember the drunks and the party goers, the theives, the rapists, the molesters and the multitudes going to hell. I remember, I can smell the stench as if Iwere there right now. I will not return with the romantic view of going to save thousands and having a church that holds great fame among those here in the States. I am not the one who will stand in the gap....I go back because I MUST. My very essence is that of the Holy Spirit who draws me to just do my job, go after those still lost and groping around in the world in the dark. A darkness so painful that they seem to have no hope at all of getting out. I go back for them.
Don't ask me when I come to your church if we plan on going back because the answer is a resounding YES, I must! I may not win another soul for the Lord there, but I will go and try. Oprah isn't going to care more than I do. God give us strength to face what lies ahead and Bless each of you that make it possible for my family to go back.
Look, we Christians just have to care. We have to.
Until next time,