Thursday, August 27, 2009

Panamanian Policemen patrol the park

We appreciate those of you who commented about continuation. It has been a long and incredible journey and we have seen the Lord do absolutely amazing things. I never want to write for the sake of writing, but want to do so to bring glory to the Lord.
After a time of seeking the Lord, we have decided to continue to update here, but perhaps a bit less frequently.

I am excited about several upcoming opportunities. I have the privilege of marrying a young couple this weekend. I met the young woman on one of our mission trips. I guess I actually met her when I spoke at her sorority at Oklahoma State University. I got to know her and her incredible testimony on the mission field and since.

I am also praying through upcoming opportunities to speak everywhere from my home and local churches to some in Texas and Florida (along with Christian schools). I am excited to see what the Lord has in store. Deanna is speaking to a women's group on the 4th anniversary of BJ's home going! Please join us in praying that we will be obedient to what the Lord wants.

I know I have still not shared any stories for Peru this past summer. I hope to get there as it was an incredible summer, and we had a team that truly loved each other and Jesus, and made great strides is laying down their lives and serving Him.

I want to share about the policemen pictured above.

One morning in Panama, we arrived at the above Park and my partner and I unloaded with our interpreter to find a place to do ministry. Upon seeing the policemen, we felt compelled to seek their permission.

We do not always ask for permission. It is usually a situation of trying to be Spirit led. Sometimes they come and watch and others, they steer clear with little to no notice. Sometimes they shut us down.

We had been trying to teach this team about authority. They were a great team and seemed mature for their ages, but we noticed that they had apparently never been expected to follow through with issues of respecting authority.

We approached the policemen in this park feeling it was what the Lord wanted.

What we did not expect was the journey that resulted. Wanting to be of service, yet not having the authority to grant us permission, they escorted us from place to place in the neighborhood, trying to get us to the right people to get permission to do ministry.

We went from building to building visiting various "authorities," each of which said they did not have authority to grant us permission. Each in turn sent us on to another.

Not too long into this quest, I began to wonder if we had made the right decision. We were eating into precious ministry time. Perhaps we had misread what the Lord intended. This seemed to be turning into a waste of time. I remember turning to my partner and saying something like, "either we are fools, or the Lord has huge plans at this park."

We ultimately landed in the office of a government official. We sat in the crowded outer office waiting... wondering.

He emerged and headed out the front door. His assistance saw us and went after him. She returned with him and called our interpreter into a staging area to talk.

When they returned, they gave us a letter of permission to do ministry in the park.

To be truthful, it seemed like overkill. It did not matter. We headed to our bus where our students had been waiting and as we found out, praying, for nearly and hour and a half. We told them about the policemen and how they escorted us to each place trying to help. We told them we thought God had large plans for this site.

Enthusiastically, we unloaded, and headed out (with our letter) to do ministry!

The policemen strolled in a circular pattern around our group. During ministry, they arrested two men and hauled them off to jail. However, they remained close enough to see our story throughout most of it.

There were many people here who needed Jesus on this day. One particular woman was a drug addict who seemed to be on a bad trip. This resulted in her overreacting to every aspect of the drama. She even got up and mimicked what she saw, as it unfolded.

When the crucifixion scene came, she cried out loudly, "NO, no, no!" She hid her face and tears streamed. There was so much truth in her experience. This was more real to her than to most who view it. It was if she were actually there when Christ died, and reacted appropriately.

However, many pointed to her and laughed at her overreactions. We prayed for her.

At the conclusion, a team went and shared the Gospel with her, and led her into a relationship with Christ! She gave them a stuffed bear she had been carrying, among her meager possessions.

The young man on my team who portrayed Christ, came up and asked if anyone had spoken to the policemen. I told him I had asked another young man to do so, but he hadn't gotten to them, so sent this young man to share.

Both men gave their hearts to Christ! We rejoiced!

I gathered the team in and recast this whole experience in terms of authority. Reminding them that Scripture says, "All authority (good or bad) is God's," we discussed the fact that had we arrived, set up and began ministry, that it was very likely these two men would have shut us down, or at the least been unreceptive to the Gospel.

The fact that we felt led to seek their approval (as authorities in this park) and did so, kept us under God's umbrella of protection. The result was that we had permission to be there, we got to know these two men a bit and they respected our approach, and finally, their hearts were softened and moved to receive Christ! My God has all authority! When we remain under it, we have his protection, as he directs our paths.

The young man who had shared with them returned to me. He said, "when God told me to go to those two men, I was nervous, because I remembered the story about your son in Peru and the policemen he ministered to."

We rejoiced over all the Lord had done, and was doing, together!

Over the course of our time together, we would have to revisit the authority teaching again. Many parents, teachers and others in authority over these students had a loud bark, but no follow through. This team, though seeking after God's heart, had clearly learned that when the authority gave them instruction, they did have to follow it, as few ever inspected them after giving direction to them.

We were different, and required their follow through. It was a growing experience.

This is such an important teaching. Scripture reveals in many places that all authority belongs to God, and we are to submit to it.

Sometimes, He even provides powerful tools for teaching these truths, when we least expect it!



At 3:07 PM, Blogger KK said...

Thank you for the reminder of the experience today...


At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for choosing to continue with the posts. It is amazing to see how God works when we can look beyond ourselves and are obedient to His word!

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless,
Greenfield, IN

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for continuing the blog. I read it daily. I don't usually say anything, but each and every day blesses me so much. Thank you, again. Leah


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