What an incredible week. I don't know that I have felt this "alive" in a long time.
This week we started a church plant by way of giant rented tent-revival and crusade style. Nightly devices in an un-reached community. They are so hungry for the truth of the Gospel.
I was introduced as the "preacher" for the night by my dear friend Pastor Richard(who we are planting the church with) from Mganduzweni. He said "you all know that these kind of people don't come this deep into our community, especially late at night"...let me translate that for you to sink in a bit...whites don't come err because it's not safe.
I thanked him and stepped across the dirt floor. It had been quite warm during the day and we haven't seen rain in months. The dust was hanging in the air from the dancing and worship that took place for the hour and a half prior(oh how we love worship here). I greeted them all in my best Siswati and apologized that I could not preach in their language. They were gracious and accommodating (as we have found this amazing culture to be). I said I was here to share a real life story of struggle and triumph and that I am here protected by Psalm 91(hopefully you are looking that up right now...go ahead, I will wait for you)...I saw them reach for their bibles. There were 4 men, 65 women and nearly 100 children in attendance this 4th night of the crusade.
Only 3 people had bibles, and they were a tattered mess. People hungry for the Word and clinging on to every breath a "Pastor" breathes. No wonder we see such abuse from pulpits in Africa-no one is able to connect to The Lord directly through His word.
I spoke about my testimony of the past year. I spoke from the third person, so no one knew I was speaking about myself...just a guy that loved The Lord and had a horrible experience. I spoke showing how God was there every step of the way and His word says He promises to fight on our behalf, that the Victory is ALWAYS His! That whomever we are and whatever we are facing, He will rescue us and draw us closer to Himself through the struggle or trial.
They seemed to cling to every word of the disastrous story, and all of the scriptures of Hope that went with it. I then felt the Holy Spirit ask me to do something that they would never forget...I identified myself as the very man I was speaking about and that one yea ago I could barely walk. I reminded them of Gods faithfulness and needed them to see. I lifted my shirt and showed them my beautiful scars. I explained that I am fortunate, I have a physical reminder every day and every hour of the Lords faithfulness.
It was so silent, jaws were on the floor as a gasp came over them all. A small whisper began as they pointed and nudged their neighbors(I bet this is what Lazarus experienced). I said "look at this. Let this image burn into your head as a reminder of what He can and will do". I then invited them to come forward for prayer in their life-many people came, not with physical illnesses, but with spiritual sickness. They wanted to leave the old behind and press on to His prize at the winning goal.
Praise God for what He is doing, we are so blessed to be a small part of His well orchestrated, amazing plan. And so blessed to have one more week of "crusade" to assist with.
"Mganduzweni for Jesus"
Side note-we prayed against evil, darkness and witch craft/doctors(called sangoma) and the gathered group responded with applause and celebration. I believe many are on the way to experience freedom and fullness in Christ. Soon, Pastor Gideon will have a church to run under Pastor Richards leadership. So blessed to have partners to advance the kingdom with.
May God continue to bless you on your Journey, and please know that the God of the universe leans down to listen to you and dance and celebrate over you. You are so dear and special to Him. Zeph 3:17