Monday, September 01, 2003

LOL (little ole lady)

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:8

I met Mary Jane Ponten, two years ago on a wheelchair distribution in Ghana and served alongside her once again in Cuba last year. At 72 years old, her presence on any team cuts out a great deal of potential complaining. And given the fact that she was born with cerebral palsy, has made her an inspiration to countless thousands around the world! When she invited me to go to Bolivia – I jumped at the chance. Our days together were great Harvest times. With her skills and ministry focus on training Pastors and churches to see people with disability as a viable part of the Body of Christ, and my ministry of sharing joy with underprivileged children and orphans – we were quite a force in a foreign land. Together we visited public and private schools, the Compassion International center, as well as the government sponsored Center for Cerebral Palsy (CP) and the Center for Rheumatoid Arthritis. We saw over 1500 children – with well over 300 responses to the Gospel among them.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

At the Center for CP children she met with parents to encourage them, and to say, “God is bigger than the illness and inability you see in your children.” One mother approached her at the end of the meeting to say that she had prayed for a child. She was so happy when she found out she was pregnant she dedicated the life of her child to the Lord. She was heartsick when her son was born with CP, how could the Lord use such a broken body? Through tears and with a broad smile she thanked Mary Jane and said” tonight I saw how big our God is! He CAN use my son, just as He has used you all over the world.”

We shared joy, and each night we drowned ourselves in laughter spurred on by exhaustion and finishing a good day’s Kingdom work. I heard her testimony again and again, told with a fresh spirit each time. The last time she spoke, she told the group of women gathered her life story; how at twelve she felt the call to be a missionary. Of course she was discouraged - after all she was handicapped. Her crippling disease had stolen that hope and desire – according to the world. Then tears streamed down her face as she recounted how many countries she has been in – as a missionary. Exclaiming, “I was told I couldn’t be a missionary because I was disabled, but now I am a missionary BECAUSE I am disabled!” There was a standing ovation for her that day – on earth – as I know there was in heaven!

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10-11