Below is an article (with pictures) that I wrote for the July edition of the Bookfun Magazine. It is an on-line publication featuring family and Christian oriented authors. Every month there are many encouraging articles and it is a great way to learn of new Christian authors. So if you enjoy reading and being encouraged please visit http://www.bookfun.org
Now that July is upon us it has forced me to realize that half of 2018 has already passed. Where does the time go? June was an extremely busy month for us as we hosted four consecutive mission teams from the U.S. here in Honduras. As you are thinking about 4th of July celebrations, and maybe a family vacation, I’d like to share one story with you about something that happened during a visit from one of our June teams.
Every year we are blessed by a team who comes down and ministers to children in schools, works on a construction project-usually a new church building-and shares the gospel while distributing water filters. As you might imagine there is a lack of safe, filtered\purified water in much of Honduras.
While we want to bless families with improved physical health we are ultimately interested in their spiritual health. As Christians we believe that we are eternal beings as we have been created in the image of God himself. According to the Bible the choice is ours where we will spend eternity; either in God’s presence in a place of perfection, peace and rest, or, in a place completely separated from God’s presence where there is nothing but pain, suffering, and regret.
As important as is our physical health much more important is our spiritual health. These water filters are a great evangelism tool because they serve as simple illustrations, and great segues, that help people give a clear presentation of the gospel. For example, the Bible says that Jesus is the Living Water so it is easy to move the conversation from purified water to Living Water. Another example is that the water filters are a free gift just like the gift of salvation offered by God through Jesus.
So much for the short introduction. Last month with one of our teams we visited a very materially poor community about four hours from La Campa and near the capital city Tegucigalpa. One afternoon after a great morning spent ministering to children in a small school we went door to door with our buckets and water filters in the community surrounding the new church we were building. We prayed together and then set out on foot from the construction site anxious, in a mostly good way, to see what God had in store for us that afternoon. We walked for about fifteen minutes until we reached the first house. As soon as we got started I received a phone call from one of our interpreters at the construction site. Something had come up and the vehicle I was driving had to be moved.
Just as we were starting I had to walk back to the construction site and move my vehicle. I was a little upset about this, mostly at myself because I should not have parked the van where I did. While on my way back a woman with a small child asked me if she could have a filter. She lives in the opposite direction of where the team was going but I told her we would do our best to come and visit with her and continued on my way, still a little upset.
Since it was late in the afternoon I decided to bring the van with me to where the team was since we were going to leave together anyway. The woman I had talked to earlier decided she wasn’t going to take any chances on me and went to where the team was. In addition to her a few more families had gathered at the first house.
There was an older woman named Cristina in the small group and she was not wearing any shoes. While this was an obviously materially poor community someone without shoes does not necessarily mean that they don’t have shoes. In the rural parts of Honduras, like rural parts of the U.S., some people like to go shoeless. However, we learned that this was not the case with Cristina when, after the presentation, she asked us if we had any shoes for her.
Our first thought was no, we have water filters but no shoes. And then we remembered something. One of our previous teams had left a grocery bag in the back of the van under a seat and inside that bag was a pair of slightly used gym shoes. Unknown to me Jean had asked multiple times if anyone from those teams was missing a pair of shoes but nobody claimed them. We pulled the shoes out of the bag and gave them to Cristina. We still don’t know whose they were but we are so grateful we had them.
After dinner we always have a time for the team members to share and reflect about the events of the day. Like many of our teams this team was divided into two groups. About half served at the construction site and the other half did ministry in other locations. Since we can’t be in two places at the same time there are a lot of things that happen that everyone does not get to experience directly. Because of that the evening share time is almost always a special time to hear about the things God did at the other locations.
The evening of the day that we gave the shoes to Cristina was no exception. Several members of the team shared about the different ways they had seen God at work throughout the day and how they had been impacted. But then Karla, one of our interpreters, said she had something to share. I thought to myself that there would be nothing new or exciting because I had served with her all day in the same places. I thought that whatever she had to share I already knew about.
But, our God is a God of surprises and He often humbles me when I think I know everything that He has been up to. Karla began to tell a shoe story. She began by saying she met a woman who asked her for a pair of shoes. I thought to myself, ok, she is going to tell the Cristina shoe story. But then she said she went to the woman’s house by herself so I knew this was a different shoe story. The woman Karla talked to has a son and he had outgrown his gym shoes. He needed them for obvious reasons but she said she did not have the money to get him new shoes and asked if the team had shoes.
The team did not have shoes. Water filters yes, but shoes no. And we had already come up with a pair of shoes for Cristina. But God, as He always is, was at work in this situation long before us. While Karla was at home packing and preparing to spend two weeks serving with us and our first two teams she saw an old pair of gym shoes. She heard that still small voice tell her to pack the shoes. Like most of us, she questioned the Lord about what she had heard. Why should I take these shoes? I don’t have the room for them in my suitcase. What need of another pair of shoes do I have? Imagine that, questioning the Lord of the universe who knows everything! But we all have.
The Lord was very patient with her as He is with all of us. And every time she questioned why He simply said to pack the shoes. Karla finally agreed and packed the shoes. When she went to the woman’s house and heard her story and need she then understood why the Lord had been so patiently insistent about her packing the shoes. The shoes were the exact size that the woman’s son needed.
I don’t know about you but so often I am looking for the big thing that the Lord wants to do with me or through me. There are times in our lives where the Lord does big things in and through us. There are times when He asks us to make big, life changing decisions. But there are so many more times that He asks us to do little things like pack a pair of old gym shoes. I am afraid to think about all of the times I have heard His still, small voice, and ignored Him. Or let myself get distracted to the point that I forgot about what I heard. Or questioned what I heard to the point that I talked myself out of doing what I heard Him tell me to do.
Our God is a God of the big things but He is also a God of the details, of the little things. Little things like old shoes. When you hear that voice, His quiet, gentle voice, telling you to do something that seems insignificant, I encourage you to be obedient immediately. Do what He is telling you because while it may seem insignificant to you, it is of tremendous importance to Him, and to the person He wants to bless through you.
THE SHOE STORIES BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES. OUR GOD IS SO GREAT THAT HE KNOWS THE LITTLE THINGS MATTER, TOO. We have been the recipient of God’s grace this past week ourselves and it is true that it is easier to give than to receive. But it was a lesson in kindness that Ed needed at the time to show us how to be ready at any time to help others. As in the shoes that God told the woman to pack, it is so imperative for us not only to talk to the Father, but to also listen without question when He speaks. What a great testimony He has now provided.
We continue to be so thankful for what you two are doing day by day. Stay well, stay happy and stay serving……to God be the glory for the things He hath done.
Great report Greg & Jean!
Hey Don Lewis, I missed the emails notifying me of comments posted so my apologies for being so far behind. Yes, God has been good to us. We’ve been praying for you and are looking forward to seeing you very soon.