Today is the fourth and final village we get to be apart of and Ive been challenged to step up and start talking to people one on one about Christ. In my opinion, the best place for this is optical ministry. Its you, the translator and an amazonian. Up until this point, my walk has been really trying to understand the character and nature of god and not to much of spreading the gospel, the call to all Christians. I am determined to tell someone about Jesus today. In America, around my friends, its easier to open up and walk with someone but here, where you need a translator and you fear that you'll say something that could translate into something offensive, its tough. So I need a foundation and a guide to do this. Im the guy that took four months to understand John 3:16. Im not the sharpest knife in the drawer, ill admit. Hollie, seeing the fear in my eyes, was kind enough to go over Romans road with me (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9.) I guess she owed me because I saved her life from the demon bat. Well I read this Romans Road and studied it till I felt ready to say it. I had my small talk questions picked out and went over in my head how this was gonna go down. My past has been you are gonna do and think what I say or Im gonna punch your face in. I dont think that works well with our mark as Christians to love one another so Im pretty sure you cant punch the Jesus into somebody, although if you could... (thats a joke aunt marion).... Cameron, Scott and I are together and formed a game plan that we would rotate as the people came in since we had one translator. I watched Scott talk to an Amazonian mom who was a Christian and needed prayer for her son. He was 19 and an alcoholic. Alcohol? Out here? I also learned that they have all of the same struggles and issues that we have back home. Some are more apparent than others but god reminded me that we are all in this together. Everyone, regardless of nationality and race, we are all image bearers. So Scott prayed for her and her family and then helped her with her trouble seeing as she reads. He hooked her up with some stylin reading glasses and she got up. Go time. I opened up my journal with Romans Road ready and saw my opponent. He is an older gentleman, very stout, missing several teeth. Looks like he has been in the jungle, hunting wild boars his whole life. Im half this guy's age and obviously not the man he is. But Im relying on God to talk through me and let the conversation go. He sits down and I ask his name. He says gives his name and the translator repeats it and I pretend like I knew what they both said. Their names here are very long and they talk very fast. Ill try to get it again soon. I tell him my name and he nods. I ask what kind of problems he is having as if I am an optometrist. He says that it hurts his eyes when he reads. He then explains how he was hit in the head in a fight with a board and that he hopes I can fix it. Im thinking "bro, I have no idea if these glasses really help at all reading. Quite honestly, I thought that they were just lenses and didnt actually change the focus of your eye." Im glad its not a scam. I explain that Vonnie is a doctor and she can do surgery if he wants it, Ha. He shakes his head no and we move on. I tell him that we are here for two reasons and before I even get into my practiced speech, he says "I want Jesus in my heart". Immediately, I almost shout out NO! I practiced and read and prayed over walking with you through the scriptures and you jump all that and go straight for the desert. And then I think "wait yes". Its funny how God works. Just another example of how we are not in control of anything. We can plan and plan and watch how God says "good for you, but its gonna go down this way." This was just a minor example of that. I ask him some foundational questions and make sure he understands what it means to believe in Christ and then I pause.....Whats next? Dont you say a prayer or something now? My mind was at a standstill. I look to Scott and say "Hey, will you say a prayer with him cause I forgot what to say?" Scott jumps in and the interpreter asks what is going on? I tell her that Scott is going to say the prayer for us and for some unknown reason, she now cant understand English. I tell her again, and she says "huh?". I remembered what we had prayed for earlier about god speaking through us and I said to Scott "welp, here goes nothing" I tell him to repeat after me and we began to pray. I can honestly say that I dont know what I said. I know that I had to make sure he understood the cross and how we all fail as humans to be justified because of sin but how Christ came and died for all so that we are justified through Christ, by faith in our hearts, before God. After the prayer, I looked to Scott and he gave me the thumbs up.
The question now in my head is "was that real?" is he saved now? I know in my life, Ive said that prayer before but nothing changed, I never felt "saved or justified". I said that prayer when I was eight, sixteen and eighteen (making a joke of the Christian faith at one point) and I didnt truly believe until I was twenty five. Whats the deal? The difference, for me, is that God didnt choose to transform my heart until 25. I didnt begin to really search for the truth until I felt that I was no longer in control and for me, that was something I felt I always had to be in. God promises throughout the scriptures that "if you seek me, you will find me." (Jeremiah 29:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:29-30, Proverbs 8:17, Hebrews 11:6 and more) We are saved by grace (gods choice) through faith (from our hearts). I didnt take the time to really understand that and I truly believe that God didnt choose to save me until then. I can write alot (for me) about predestination and the sovereignty of god, although it confuses me sometimes, but my basic thought here is that only god can transform hearts. It nothing that you or I can do, because if we could, we wouldnt need a god. Whether or not god just transformed his heart is between him and god. My job was to bring about the gospel of Jesus Christ and to plant "seeds" in the hearts of these people and encourage and teach those who believe already. I can and do pray that God will move in his heart but its only a prayer and not my decision. Thats not only scary but humbling also. Now, I do know that these people desperately need a leader who can walk with them in sanctification because if they arent spending time in the word and growing in their faith, it will get messy.
I got up from the desk of glasses and felt complete at this point. I dont think anything else could make this experience better. Is that a parrot?? AJ had a real parrot on his fingers. Monkeys, parrots, bats... this is the jungle. I had to get it. I coerced the parrot,without candy, into jumping on my finger. He apparently didnt like my finger so he tried out my forearm. He didnt like that either, so lets crawl up Klein's shoulder. Still in complete control, I asked for someone very calmly to get this "pterosaur" off me. (yeah, google that, actually that bat may have not been a bat but a pterosaur also..I saw teeth). It then thought "hey, Klein's ear looks like whatever I eat all day. Lets take a bite." That thing bit my ear twice. Still in complete control, I shrugged and shrugged for it to fly off but he has to workout cause his grip was on point. Finally, someone got it off and maybe rescued me and my ear. I have to admit, I was freaking out. The pictures will tell the story. So if you havent noticed, I dont like animals. I mean I do until Im food and then we arent friends anymore.
The rest of the day ended up like the others, getting beaten in soccer. I will say this. This team could beat any team you can make up. We showed up on the soccer fields and they were practicing corner kicks, in full uniform. They had a stud who could fly down the field and was way faster than us. Jansen told them that whoever could recite John 3:16 would get his own soccer ball, which is a huge deal over there. I think seven of them recited it and were handed out soccer balls. We worshiped and Jesska gave her testimony and didnt cry (good job Jess). We handed out family packs and loaded up for the night. Last village. Talks of America have been sprouting here recently and my fear going back is not living how we live here. In community, spreading the gospel and trying to glorify god in all we do.