Monday, October 01, 2001

Joshua to Jabez

Success even in the Christian realm is too often measured numerically: number of Bibles distributed, professions of faith, gospel heard by. The people we reached in Africa in that one week were ten times the number generally seen by our ministry in an entire year. So by that unit of measure it was a resounding success. I was overwhelmed to realize the people exposed to the gospel (60,000+) and the children served (16,000+). In 130° heat, in a culture unfamiliar with even the most basic modern conveniences of clean water and indoor plumbing, I saw the Lord at work in His way in His time. The experience reminded me of the twelve spies sent to report on the Promised Land. Ten returned speaking of insurmountable odds, but two came with a vision of what God on their side could accomplish:

… Do not be afraid of the people of the land, …the LORD is with us. Numbers 14:9

Yes, there were mobs of people we couldn’t control, there was pandemonium, there was disorganization. Everything was in place for human failure – but God was with us. He showed up in the dust and dirty pathways, down avenues to tribal villages held in the clutches of Islam. The Word was preached and His name held above all names.

The images in my heart and soul will remain: the upturned faces, the bright shining smiles, the babies tied to their mother’s backs, the way “beyond dirty” feet, the politeness of some, the greed of others and the dust, Lord, the dust! Father, You have been faithful to this oftentimes unfaithful servant; You blessed us indeed; You enlarged our territory.

In a mighty way Lord, in days of weakness, You were our strength. In times of trial and discomfort, our only comfort. In hours of aloneness, our friend and confidant. Lord you watched carefully over us. We were challenged by the crowds but not overwhelmed. We were sustained by Your word and shared it freely with others. As surely as you singled out Jabez, You blessed us once again with your unmerited grace. We continue to bless Your holy name.