07 Nov Reflections on Swaziland Mission Trip #2 October 11-25, 2014
Thursday November 6, 2014
After two weeks of being back in the U.S. we’ve had some time to process all of our experiences in Swaziland. Our second trip was just as eventful as the first, just entirely different in how/where we served. Neither one of us kept a journal this trip even though we intended to before we left, and even brought our journals with us. Neither one of us could explain why we didn’t journal when we discussed it upon returning home. That being said, there were certain things that God laid heavily upon my heart that I pray might be an encouragement to you, the reader.
Our marriage~Something that the Holy Spirit was drilling into my head time and time again on this trip, was a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for the gift that God has given me in my marriage. I don’t write this with any sense of over sentimentality or with an underlying motive to woo my wife with romantic expressions. These feelings were different. Let me explain. After sleeping in a building which had a thatch roof for the first four nights of our stay in Swaziland, it was clear that the thatch was harboring mold. I am highly allergic to mold, so the fact that I was able to sleep in that environment for four nights without dying is beyond me. My lungs became inflamed and breathing became labored. Besides that, I began having strange dizzy spells which would occur off and on throughout the trip and even after we arrived home. The breathing issues were always worse at night when I laid down to go to sleep. Since I couldn’t sleep I had time to think and pray while I waited for calm to come over me. Through conversations with God in those moments I was reminded of my temporary life in this body. In some fearful instances I was reminded that I am not promised immortality in the flesh and that we only achieve that in our spirit. We only attain everlasting life when we acknowledge the finished work of Christ on the cross and what that means for our eternity. There was an unexplainable peace in knowing that even if I end up dying in the mission field, or anywhere else for that matter, that it will be gain because of what Jesus offers to those of us who call Him Lord. Not that I feared death necessarily on this trip, it was just a reminder that death can come to any of us at any moment, and what matters most in every single person’s life who walks the earth is what they believe about the nature of who Jesus Christ is. Now, to get to how this relates to my marriage. There was beautiful reassurance of my lack of control in life. There is insane peace in realizing that I have no control. No matter how hard I try to protect Ashley, no matter how much I love her and attempt to be her savior; I will never actually be her ultimate protector. Only God calls the shots when it comes to Ashley’s safety. Only God has the final say about what her final days, hours, and minutes on this earth will look like and me trying to determine any outcome is nothing but a display of foolishness. I can pray for her safety now and continue to pray for her even as we move forward into the mission field, and I know God hears my prayers and wants me to pray continuously in all things. But it is a fool who thinks that just because he prays God will give him the answer to the prayer that he wants in the flesh. Often God answers our prayers with the answer we don’t want. That doesn’t mean the prayer wasn’t answered, it just means it was answered His way. Like children, it is hard for us to see the benefit in the moment of not getting our way. I honestly have never felt as much gratitude to God for my marriage as I do now. I pray that He continues to fuel my gratitude for the temporary gift of my wonderful wife. I pray that as long as He grants me temporary headship of this beautiful and broken union, that I never lose sight of it’s temporary state and as time moves forward, that I will adore my wife the way Christ loves His church. That I will love her without worshipping her, but love her better because of my worship of Him and the example He has given me in Christ.
On healing~I had a guy this week tell me that he believes it is God’s will for everyone to be healed. His words didn’t shock me because he has been mislead by the false teachings of the prosperity gospel. When I mentioned to him that some of the strongest brothers and sisters I have met in the faith were from the third world and that their healing didn’t come despite their faith, he became uncomfortable and quickly made an excuse to exit. Besides being dangerous and damning, the false teachings of the prosperity gospel are immensely insulting. They are insulting to our brothers and sisters who are struggling to find food and clean water and still believe that Jesus is who he says he is, even while they suffer. To the martyrs who have died to make much of Jesus, the prosperity gospel mocks their death by saying that what Jesus offers is the same sinful lust and greed that the world offers. The apostles didn’t die violent deaths, with no money in their pockets, alone and mocked so that we could be promised earthly pleasures! If that is all Christ offers, why would anyone be willing to be martyred for their faith? Who would suffer and willingly die for that? No one!!
We are supposed to pray for physical healing. It’s ok to pray for financial security. It’s not a sin to be rich or to want be healthy. But if you enjoy, treasure, or desire these earthly things more than you desire to know Jesus, you do not know Him and He will deny you when you are face to face with Him on your day of judgment. If you think the purpose of Christ’s death was for you to have what you want, for you to have “your best life now,” you will not spend eternity with Him. For scriptures which attest to this fact read my blog entitled “The Plague of the Prosperity Gospel.” If God chooses for my life to end at a young age or allows my health to decline, it does not alter the state of His goodness.
To the person who believes that it is God’s will for everyone to be healed, I give you Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I suppose the greatest missionary who ever lived, who suffered physically for his faith most of his life, who died a violent death, and wrote most of the new testament wasn’t a Christian? Because if the prosperity gospel is true, then Paul wasn’t a Christian because Christians don’t get sick and don’t suffer. You see, in order to believe the false teachings of the prosperity gospel, you have to ignore much of the word of God, and most of Christian history. I pray that everyone who is being deceived by this heresy will come to know Christ and repent of their idol worship.
In closing, this trip to Swaziland was amazing. We were able to bring many games and dolls to hopefully enrich the lives of some beautiful orphans. We were able to have devotions, teach bible lessons, tutor, have recreation time, make some art and jewelry, visit with local pastors, and make some new friends in the amazing country of Swaziland that we have grown to love so much. We can’t wait to see what God does as we pursue His will for how we will serve the orphans of this country. We owe much gratitude to everyone who shares our passion for this vision.