Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Understanding the plan and desire of God

It didn't take very long for the Lord to open my eyes to His desire for my life. I knew that I was to be a communicator of the gospel message of Jesus Christ, a minister, servant of God. Donna shared the same divine impress upon her heart. Three years before we would attend the denominations school for ordination former missionaries came to visit our small Northern Michigan congregation.

The couple had spent some years in the African country of Zambia. They lived in the bush where he was involved in the secondary school and his wife was a nurse in the hospital. They presented a slide show of their work. The slide showed the children at school and the sick at the hospital. They also showed a few slides of the more exotic side of the bush, elephants, zebras, and baboons. At the end of the presentation they challenged everybody to re-think their commitments, to stewardship and to serving God. A very heavy burden was upon me to talk to them about service. We talked for some time and they left with a prayer, that our hearts and minds would be open to the Spirit of God and His leading.

After ordination I reminded our administration of my, our, desire and burden for the mission field. On many of those occasions we were encouraged about the burdens. On some of the reviews the discussion seemed to be passed over rather lightly. For ten years the inner voice was the same. O, it was more intense at times, but it never ceased. Finally, after waiting for ten years, we were informed we were going to be moving to Zambia. In fact, to the very bush station that our friends showed slides about. When I told them of the plans and where we were going, well, it was a rather emotional time.

My understanding was clear. Without a doubt or hesitation my spirit knew. It is hard to explain, but once experienced, undeniable. The Lord opened many doors as we prepared to move. It is hard to imagine how difficult it is to move a family of four thousands of miles and have everything needed for four years. After some time to settle living in Zambia was a wondrous time of faith and family. God, in His great mercy, knew that things were about to change and a great darkness was to overshadow us for some time.

Our third Christmas came and went and the New Year was soon to be upon us. On New Years Eve Donna was beaten and sexually assaulted by a minister in our denomination. We faced terrible accusations of hatred and racism. Our world was falling apart. Our girls faced death threats and comments were made about taking Ana from us. The administration knew the circumstances and decided against discipline or redemptive measures. Life was falling apart, God seemed absent and not able to be touched in prayer or in scripture.
One month later, after more threats, everything came apart. I had to send Donna, Hilary and Ana home on two days notice.

Communication and understanding from God, that was essential for my spiritual existence, came to a screeching halt. My praying seemed empty and I couldn't find or sense His peace. This was only the beginning of a very dark, and I must say, frightening time in life. Had I been so wrong in my understanding about God? Was the fifteen years of praying and waiting a mistake? Did I misread God? My mind and spirit were being flooded with questions, I couldn't stop the questioning and I was without any answer.

My answer, which began like a small snowball going downhill, was simple. God simply didn't care.
More to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Since this is more than just a personal testimony, I have a comment on the piece of writing as such and how it relates to discerning the will of God. First, what role did the denomination play in blocking/aiding God's will for you to go to Zambia? Blackaby (and others) put a lot of emphasis on the church's role. Second, as nasty as it may be to consider, at each tiny intersection after the assault, there were signposts (or not), guidance (or not), etc. How does God lead His people - you, your leaders, your family? How does He reveal Himself? His will?

    What happened is a tragedy; the piece is very moving.