My phone beeped at 8:30 this morning. It was Mordegai, asking if I wanted to join him for a tour of the local slums. I'm trying to be in the habit of saying "yes" to everything, so I wrote back immediately, and jumped out of bed.
It takes me a while to get going in the morning, so it didn't strike me as odd that I was feeling extra groggy as I threw on some clothes and wandered out onto the street. It wasn't nine o'clock yet, but I was already sweating by the time I had reached the corner to catch a motorcycle to Mordegai's.
I'm not a morning person. Apparently my reputation precedes me. When I arrived at Mordegai's house, he seemed surprised to see me so soon after he had sent the text. He wasn't ready yet, so I spent some time sitting on the couch playing with his children and visiting with his friends who are here from South Africa. As I sat on that couch, I realized that I was not recovering from my groggy state. In fact, it was getting worse. I was starting to get shivers and back pain.
There has been a fever going around this week. Bethany and I were just praying for Jenn last night because she is sick. The fever has already taken out several of the students over at the clinic. As I sat in Mordegai's living room, I realized that I was the next victim. I didn't want Mordegai to call me a sissy, so I didn't let on that I was feeling ill.
Mordegai took me and his South African friend, Willy, for a walk through the neighborhoods where he first ministered when he arrived here 11 years ago. He showed us houses that he had helped to repair. He pointed to the place where he cleaned and dressed his first wound, the bed sore of a paralyzed man. He introduced us to the poor who have benefited from his obedience over the last decade.
Mordegai and his family are moving to Cambodia at the end of this month. As Bethany mentioned, we are contemplating buying his truck. Impact Nations asked us if we could make good use of the truck by doing what Mordegai does. At first the idea intimidated me, but as Bethany and I discussed it with our dear friends Jenn and Joe, I began to warm up to the idea. On Thursday night the four of us went to Mordegai's home for dinner so that we could discuss his ministry and talk about how it could continue in his absence.
He was so encouraging. He told us that we don't have to know all the health care stuff right away. He learned on the job so we could too. He's going to connect us with a local doctor who can train us. He also spoke to us about what medicines he uses and where he purchases them. Mordegai continually made the point that the most important part of the ministry is just being there for the people. He has rescued many lives just by recognizing many fatal but curable illnesses and getting the person to a doctor. He says that there is a free hospital on the highway, but people cannot afford the transportation costs. By simply paying $10, he has been able to save many lives by getting them the medical attention that they need. When we left his place on Thursday night I was feeling very encouraged. I was actually beginning to think that I could do this.
This morning I felt as though I came crashing down to reality. As we stood in those hot busy streets, I was surprised by the feelings that began to well up in me. With each passing minute, my heart was becoming more hard. As Mordegai pointed to the wounds on a man's leg, I was repulsed. As strangers shook my hand, all I could think about was how dirty their hands were.
I don't like icky things. The thought of even being in the vicinity of a bed sore gives me the creeps. I still can't figure out how dentists keep from retching every time they peer inside someone's mouth. Exercise and I don't get along. I nearly died from a one hour hike a couple of weeks ago. I don't know how Mordegai does it, but he is a very different man from me.
All of these feelings were rushing through me this morning as I stood there realizing that I am, in fact, a sissy. I wasn't sure if it was the fever talking, or the enemy trying to cut me off at the knees, or perhaps I was just being reasonable. I began to think about the ministry that I had always wanted for myself. I wanted to deal with musical instruments, not medical instruments. I wanted to lead powerful worship, which doesn't usually involve pus. "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked myself.
When we returned from our walk, I entered Mordegai's house feeling dejected and lost. My fever was getting pretty bad too. I sat quietly, trying not to wallow in self pity. That's when it happened. Psalm 40. He picked me up out of the slimy pit. Willy (with the South African accent it sounds like "Villy") sat down across the living room and simply began to pour into me. I don't think he even realized that he was doing it, but he ministered to me in a very profound way this morning.
Willy started by saying that he had listened to me on Thursday night as I spoke about my desire to support the locals in their ministry. Specifically, I was referring to Beth and Murli, the two women that have helped coordinate Mordegai's trips into the mountain villages. I was simply saying that we wanted to encourage them to continue on in Mordegai's absence and that we could learn a great deal from them. My heart is to be a support to them and help facilitate their desires for the region. Willy said that he was blessed by my servant attitude.
Essentially as Willy spoke, the Lord used him to hold a mirror up so that I could see my true heart. Willy began to affirm me, speaking the truth of who God had made me to be and that God had prepared me for this time. I began to realize that God will provide me with everything I need. Even if I don't "feel" like I have a heart for the people, my obedience is a sure indicator that I do.
I sat quietly and cried as this man spoke about sowing and reaping. He told me that we (missionaries and pastors) need to stop spending so much time searching for the fruit of our ministry, but instead must continue to spread the seed. I wept as the Lord removed the incredible pressure I have put on myself to see results. The Lord was simply telling me that my obedience is all He requires of me. The rest is up to Him.
I'm still not sure what all happened this morning. It was just another of those "heart surgery" moments I guess. I'm really sick, so my mind is in a fog right now. We're gonna try to buy that truck and get some primary health care training. I don't know what adventure God has us on, but I'm just gonna keep saying "yes", even if it is way more than I bargained for.
Please pray that I don't have a fever all through the night. Last I checked I was at 101.5F. Bethany is taking good care of me though. I've attached a picture that I took of a Volkswagen. It's got nothing to do with anything, but I like it, and people seem to like pictures. Apologies for the Peggy Lee references.