I am considering today a benchmark, a monument for His glory...not just in our time here in Haiti, but in Matt's walk with the Lord. This afternoon, he headed out with another missionary, a few visitors and some staff and students from Emmaus for the first official "evangelism day" of the year.
You may remember last spring when Matt's fourth year class put together an idea for evangelism and discipleship. Six months later, the vision continues to be lived out each Wednesday and Thursday as students go out together into surrounding areas, participating in door-to-door evangelism, locating Christians, choosing a yard or tree to meet (ie...church planting), and teaching old and new converts the Word of God, beginning with the book of Mark.
Though they have continued to go to these "house churches" throughout the summer, today they officially began, with first year students alongside, in a 'new' area not far from the Seminary.
Today, as Matt walked down a dirt path, lined with cactus fences, half-naked children playing with plastic-bottle cars and garbage-bag kites, he felt something inside him 'snap.'
"I know that I'm Jesus for people in teaching and that kind of service, but today when we were out, I felt a strong desperation to POUR myself out for everyone around me...I felt such a GREAT LOVE for them, the 'wash their feet' kind of love...for the first time since being here I honestly felt God's huge heart of love and compassion for each person I talked to...the kind that CHANGES you. I want to go out there again, right now, tomorrow, and pour myself out for them because of Christ."
While working over in his mind this 'realization' of God's love for the people around him, his eye was caught by an old woman, gray hair haphazardly woven into crazy braids all over her head, her wrinkled eyes squinting to see and her hands well-worn from years of labor. She was surrounded by youth...several girls in their twenties and their children all playing in the yard.
Matt walked over to them, stepping over a naked baby sleeping on a hand-towel in the shade. He uncharacteristically skipped all small talk, saying that he felt surprisingly led to be silent. After looking them each in the eye, he said to the old woman, "Not all here are Christians, are you?"
"I AM" she replied smiling. "But not everyone is. This one, and this one," she said, nudging two young women nearby, "they are not."
Before leaving, these new Christians led him to a young girl, about 13 years of age, who could not speak, and could not hear. Her family quickly told Matt that she loved the Lord, and had been deaf and mute since birth.
Matt quickly sat next to one of these girls, looked into her eyes and asked, "You're not a Christian?"
"No, I am not" she said decidedly.
"God has sent me today," Matt said, "to tell you how much He loves YOU, and to tell you that He wants you as His own."
Step by step, Matt talked to her about the problem we have as humans with sin. Talked to her about how not one of us is righteous, and that we are born loving ourselves more than God, more than others, leading to death and darkness. And he told her about God sending His Son Jesus, who came to offer life, and yet was despised, and nailed to a cross by people just like her, suffered because of our sin. He told her that not even death could conquer his Lord, and that Jesus rose again, setting us free from death, free from sin, free from ourselves and then left us His Holy Spirit.
"You must repent and receive His love so that your sins may be wiped away. There is salvation in no one, nothing, no place else!
"Do you want to do that?"
"OH YES, please!" she said joyfully, and they knelt together in the dirt with the old woman singing praises to God alongside of the angels and prayed for His forgiveness and new life.
As soon as they finished, Matt turned to the second girl. She smiled timidly, and he called her out.
"I know you are smiling because you know that God loves you too, and died for you just the same, and you know that I want to tell you about Him."
And so Matt did, and again found himself in the dirt next to his sister, leading her joyfully and gratefully to the Lord.
"Stace," Matt said energetically the moment he burst through the door, "We always think that Evangelism is for those gifted in Evangelism, and that we should find our spiritual gifts and stay in them! But the BIBLE says to tell people about Jesus! All who follow Him! And as I was doing so, He gave me a contentment and a joy and a peace that I haven't had in a long time! God allowed me to be a small part of two genuine conversions today...two women entirely lost, and He brought them to Himself! And I was there!"
"She was so sweet, Stace. You could see that she knew Jesus, see that she had His spirit about her."
He clasped her hand and prayed for her, praising the Lord for her life and asking that she be healed. It is his goal to return to her yard once a week every week and pray the same thing.
There is healing in the name of Jesus!
"Today, God gave me what I cannot give myself, no matter how hard I try: an understanding, a viewing, of His love for us. For you and I, for Lily, for the students, [for YOU,] for the other missionaries, for the Haitian people. I can't have felt HIS love for us each and rest in knowing that there are SO MANY that don't know of it!"
I don't know about you, but Matt's experience today inspired me again to take my faith to the next level, to be BOLD and to tell of what He has done in me and of what He wants to do in others. Step out there with us!
No matter what your gift, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, no matter how intimidating the situation or the person, no matter how sure you are that 'they don't want to hear it', no matter what the cost...We were bought with a price, family, NOT so that we could live well for ourselves, but so that we who live might live for Him who died and rose again on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:14-15)!
If you are unsure of how to share Christ, or if you don't yet have Him TO share, please send us an email and we'd love, love, love to talk to you more...
I have never heard, never once, anyone say they were sorry they told someone about their Jesus. Even if it brings us harm, might we be like the apostles in Acts 5:
They called the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak the name of Jesus ever again, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing greatly that they had been considered worthy to suffer for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Ah, I've got to go to bed!
We praise the Lord for you each...