I’m sure that many of you have noticed that it has been quite a while since I have written. The truth is that I came home from India very ill. For the longest time, I was not well enough to write. Please know that I am feeling much better after two hospital visits and seeing numerous doctors. They have cleared me to travel again and I am looking forward to leaving for Nigeria on Saturday, May 19. As the doctors used this time to treat my body, God also used this time to treat my heart and challenge me to live a more Godly life. I am more aware than ever of my own sin and God’s overwhelming ability to deliver me from its grip.
I do not usually write about my health, but I saw God do so many wonderful things while I was sick that I feel I need to share this experience with you. The story actually begins more than two months ago, on our last day in India. I knew when I woke up that morning that I was not well. I felt so weak that I immediately began to pray, asking God to give me strength. We had planned for several shows that day so that we could have a big finish on our last day.
Our first program was at a Christ-centered school that reaches thousands of Hindu children every year for Jesus Christ. Sam and I did an assembly program with more than 300 children present, and many of their teachers. As I was telling the story, I felt God pouring his strength into me. One friend later told me that since he had seen me earlier in the morning and knew how ill I was, he was very surprised at what a good job I was able to do. I knew that it was not me, but God kindly using me to tell these children that there was hope.
The second program was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We drove quite a distance to reach another very large Christian school that was also full of Hindu and some Muslim students. We were positioned in an open courtyard, surrounded on three sides by 1,500 students and their teachers. The building was U-shaped with open porches on all three levels. Sitting on the ground floor, in the back of the assembly, were more than one hundred Hindu and Muslim parents. It was very hot that day and so we had to use every bit of shade so that the children would be comfortable enough to be able to listen to the program. As I stared at the huge crowd, I turned to my translator Hansen and said, “We are going to have to tell a really amazing story for this many children.” Please remember that I was very ill and felt so weak that I knew I could not tell the story as it needed to be told. I have found through the years that being really ill can be a great advantage. I knew that I would need to lean completely on God and trust Him to give me the strength I needed. As we began the story, I felt God’s Holy Spirit flowing through me. Five minutes into the story, I knew that when the invitation was given, the children would respond. You could see how they were listening with their hearts. At the end of the story, I invited the children to put their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and led them in a prayer. I was not surprised as hundreds of children began to pray out loud, calling on Jesus to rescue them. I had absolutely no strength and I know that this wonderful work was God alone. He is faithful!
Our third program was at another rural Christian school full of children who were very happy we came. Two years ago, we had visited this school and done a program. They were so excited to see us return that the entire student body burst into applause when we entered the room. Again, I saw God pour His Spirit out on the children. He gave me wonderful strength and many children put their trust in Jesus. He never fails!
You would think that this would end our day as were to begin our journey home later in the evening. However, we had one last opportunity to teach a number of seminary students ways of telling children about Jesus. I opened the class, but it was Sam who taught the entire lesson. He did an amazing job and I believe that many more children will hear God’s good news from the students he taught.
A FUNNY STORY
While in the hospital, I had many opportunities to share with doctors and nurses. There was one time that was particularly funny that I think you will enjoy. I had been taken to get X-rays, and was sharing about Jesus with a lovely French lady. She was very kind and had a very strong French accent. When I finished telling her about Jesus, she said “Oh! You are like zee Tim Tebow!” For those of you that don’t know, Tim Tebow is a well-known American football player with a strong testimony for Jesus Christ. I have never been compared to a super athlete before and found the experience very entertaining!
SHARING IN GEORGIA
As I began to feel better, we did some local puppet shows. These were very sweet opportunities, and encouraging. It is a joy to see people from nearby churches interested in seeing children reached for the Gospel both here and in other countries. I greatly appreciate all of you who read these emails and pray for us. I am thankful for all the churches who enable us to touch the children of the world. Always remember that even though the children only see those of us who make the trips, God the Father sees your faithfulness.